Is the effect of having more and more input from learning scientists into engineering education research something that any of the engineers on the panel are worried about? Are we relinquishing control of this whole area?

Moderator: Elaine, you’re bringing up a topic which I want to get in to also, an issue which I’m concerned about and I think others are a little concerned, about the increasing input that engineers are getting from learning scientists in this area. You’re talking about things that engineers usually don’t talk about, and that, I think, is the effect of having more and more input from learning scientists in to engineering education research. Is that something that any of the engineers on the panel are worried about? Are we relinquishing control of this whole area?

Juan Rivera: I think we have to change. I see too much of linear thinking, what I call stratified thinking processes, in solving problems. It’s almost as if when the individuals come into industry they set artificial boundaries on how they approach problems. They like a cookbook sort of approach: Step One, Step Two, down to Step N, and at the end you find a solution. But, what I think is needed is to give the individuals and the students broader thinking skills. They need the ability to learn on their own and expand beyond those processes and those focus problems that they’re searching for and then ask grander questions.

Moderator: As someone from industry, are we doing a good enough job in that area, in our engineers?

Juan Rivera: We’re making progress, but I think we could do better so that when they come in with an undergraduate degree or a bachelor’s degree they can have some of the foundation for those skills already.

Moderator: Gary, are you afraid to insult some of the learning scientists in the group? What do you think of their creeping input here? [Laughter]

Gary Gabriele: I think it’s going to be very beneficial to get to the issues that Juan’s talking about, we’re probably the wrong group to ask. So I’ll answer in the sense that one of the things that engineering faculty can benefit from is working with and discussing problems with people far outside their domain, outside Science and into the Social Sciences because that’s the kind of skills that essentially we want our students to have as well. To get to the issues Juan’s talking about is to understand that there are different ways to approach problems than to layout what the problem definition is, what are the knowns, what are the unknowns, the kind of things we make them do in most of our engineering science courses. We have to get the students thinking more broadly. That will happen when the faculty start to see the value of that as well and that will happen when they start working with these other domains.

Moderator: And that will happen when they start getting recognized and rewarded for it too.

Gary Gabriele: Absolutely.

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