What Is the Gain?

Moderator: I’m really tempted to ask how many zealots we have in the audience by a show of hands, but I’m not going to do that. This young man’s been waiting quite a while so we’re gong to come back to this side. Oh, I’m sorry.

Audience Member: Alan Cheville from Oklahoma State University. I’d like to follow up on something that Elaine said earlier on. I was watching on streaming video Bill Clinton speak at the Montreal Climate Change Conference. He paraphrased Machiavelli by saying the hardest thing any human can attempt is to change an organization or society because everybody in that organization knows exactly what they have to lose. But it’s very very difficult to quantify what they have to gain.

We are a very receptive audience here. But we know when we go back to our home institutions, the audience is not as receptive. So, I’d like to ask the panel, how can we better quantify what gains will be achieved if we succeed with this broad quest for better understanding about how engineers learn, this year of dialogue?

Moderator: Panel? Thank you. Excellent question. It’s so good, nobody wants to take it.

[laughter and applause]

David Radcliffe: Can I come at it another way and suggest it’s about a values fit rather than gain, which is a hard thing to deal with. It’s a values fit. There are a lot of people there where you can tell the story and you can paint a picture where they are going to fit with the values and they’ll come on board relatively quickly. Like any change process, you’re going to get the early adopters and that sort of stuff. There’s always going to be the 40 percent of dinosaurs at the end who are either not going to be here at the paradigm shift or whatever or they’ll retire.

Moderator: Can I have a show of hands of how many dinosaurs we have in the room?

[laughter]

But values fit, I think, is the way to approach the issue rather than gain.

Norman Fortenberry: Related to that issue, is in terms of what we have to gain, or the values fit is that we are struggling now to recruit and retain populations within engineering. If we continue to attract, or continue to teach in ways or continue to teach things that appeal to the same segments that used to come to engineering in droves, who are no longer coming to engineering in droves, we will no longer have anyone in our classrooms. So what we have to gain in an overblown, oversimplified way, is the sustainment of our discipline.

[applause]

Jeremy Noonan: Is that what’s at stake ultimately? You really believe that the engineering discipline is threatened?

Elaine Seymour: Gary will correct my figures I’m sure if I’m wrong but it’s not so long ago that 25 percent of our Ph.D. students in the STEM disciplines were from overseas. They were born or educated at least overseas. Is the figure now nearer 60 percent?

Gary Gabriele: Yes.

Elaine Seymour: Yes. That’s what we have to lose.

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