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'[OT] Of wizards and engineers'
In a recent Viewpoint ("Harry Potter and the vanishing engineer," July
issue), I speculated on how the enormous popularity of fantasy entertainment
such as the Harry Potter series might be having a detrimental cause/effect
relationship with society's (and by extension younger people's) seeming lack
of interest in and appreciation of science and engineering. Many of you
responded with so many great points—both agreeing with and taking issue with
my comments—that I felt it was appropriate to devote this month's Viewpoint
to *your* views:
"Engineering is a field in which jobs are going overseas, salaries (in real
terms) are steadily receding, and status is almost nonexistent (we are
treated as warehouseable commodities)."
"I was told many times that we are farther from the 'money stream' than
Marketing or Sales. As such, we get dumped on! From having to put in
overtime without pay to being treated unprofessionally in many ways (I can
fill a chapter on this one)."
"When was the last time you read an article in the daily paper praising the
engineer(s) who designed or invented the latest life-saving device, or a
home appliance that saves energy? This is why 'kids' are not impressed by
engineering, their elders couldn't care less."
"Once upon a time, [a major university] had the best curriculum in the
country for practical electrical engineering. Its graduates were prominent
in the industry. However, this major subject was discarded for electronics
and the computer so that now only few courses are offered in this
"I, too, have worried about what was happening to the new graduates (or more
really the lack of new graduates). Quite sadly, it has seemed at times,
people providing career guidance to college freshmen put 'engineering
sciences' very low on the scale."
"Many parents are telling their recent high school graduates to stay clear
of electronics engineering, unless you want to learn Chinese or live in
"Engineering, which I used to do, and science, which I do now, are seen as
much too difficult by the majority of our students and just not worth the
rewards. It is much more rewarding to become a lawyer."
"Our culture rewards individuals for flash and fame more readily than for
intellect and innovation. Somehow we have lost the basic fundamental that it
takes hard work to solve hard problems. Engineering can be its own reward.
Solving real-world problems can only help make the world a better place to
live in. We need to get that message to our children, and quickly."
"I think the problem is not simply that skilled mathematicians and
scientists have chosen to pursue computer-related fields instead of the more
'old-fashioned' engineering disciplines. The deeper trouble is that there is
no cultural emphasis upon achievement of any sort, including in the fields
of science and engineering."
*On magic and Harry Potter:*
"Kids today are more likely to be watching fantasy than science fiction. And
this leads them away from science and engineering. They come to treat
technology as magic. The problem is, the rules of magic are
inscrutable—there is no point to trying to figure out how they work. So,
there is no need to learn math, or how to read or write, or how to think
logically. There is *power* in knowing how something works. You can change
it, improve it; bend it to your will."
"If anything, I would say that Harry Potter opens kids' minds to acknowledge
that there are mysteries to explore. Is programming really that much
different from casting spells?"
"Harry would clearly make an excellent engineer if he wasn't saving the
world from evil wizards. In our age of Reality TV, MTV and Fox 'NEWS' we are
teaching our children that style is more important than substance. You don't
need brains and education to be a 'success'."
"The popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies represent one of the
most hopeful signs I've seen in recent times. The two heroes of the Potter
series, Harry and Hermione, are unambiguously smart. Within the context of
their 'magical' world, they solve problems with logic, reason, and
ingenuity, providing a far greater inspiration for kids than campy sci-fi
"Harry Potter is a character that offers kids the opportunity to find the
power they have within them to be discovered. Don't blame Harry Potter.
Blame parents. But most of all have faith that engineers are mostly born and
not made. Those of us who are good engineers could not be otherwise."
*R. Pell, Editor-in-Chief*
Gökhan SEVER wrote:
> "The popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies represent one of the
> most hopeful signs I've seen in recent times.
I agree, mostly for another reason: many people who never read a book in
their lives read a Harry Potter book. I'm not sure about the worth of the
content, but I'm sure about the worth of the fact that they /did/ read a
book. This is an important milestone for many.
> The two heroes of the Potter series, Harry and Hermione, are
> unambiguously smart. Within the context of their 'magical' world, they
> solve problems with logic, reason, and ingenuity, providing a far
> greater inspiration for kids than campy sci-fi films."
I've always found that good sci-fi doesn't come in the form of films.
Whatever comes as film is usually too close to possible reality to be good
sci-fi. And since it's expensive and the investors need to make money, it
can't be really controversial, either. Both are pretty strangling
restrictions in this field.
> I've always found that good sci-fi doesn't come in the form of films.
> Whatever comes as film is usually too close to possible reality to be good
> sci-fi. And since it's expensive and the investors need to make money, it
> can't be really controversial, either. Both are pretty strangling
> restrictions in this field.
No "Stranger in a strange land" coming down the pipe then.. :(
James Newtons Massmind
> No "Stranger in a strange land" coming down the pipe then.. :(
Hollywood would butcher it.
Come to think of it... I haven't read that one in a while...
IMHO....its not so much that todays EE are "inventing" new things, but improving on what exists, or applying the technology to existing things. Thats what three of my current projects are, its solving a problem using the latest technologies. There will always be a segment of the population, worldwide that are driven to do this and will persue the EE/CE degrees because...why? its pretty cool to say....yes....that was me that created that or solved that problem.
See the all-new, redesigned Yahoo.com. Check it out.
On 7/27/06, James Newtons Massmind <massmind.org> wrote: jamesnewton
> > No "Stranger in a strange land" coming down the pipe then.. :(
> Hollywood would butcher it.
> Come to think of it... I haven't read that one in a while...
A real favorite, for many reasons.
Time Enough for Love is good too, even if you don't read the "future
history" series in front. Number of the Beast is fun, if a bit wild.
'[OT] Of wizards and engineers'
Although its a bit late reply...
Here is my two highly recommended book for banishing demons & wizards from
Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction by* Charles M. Wynn - Arthur W. Wiggins
Actually i had taken Science and Technology Philosophy course when i was in
senior class that why i'm posting this kind of articles to the list.
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