Ward, G. C. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 32, Number I (October 1927)
Van Hagan, Leslie F.
School for engineering teachers held at Madison, pp. 16-17
The WISCONSIN ENGINEER SCHOOL FOR ENGINEERING TEACHERS HELD AT MADISON Be LESLIE F. VAN HAGAN, Professor of Railway Engineering FORTY teachers of mechanics and allied subjects in engineering colleges throughout the country spent the period from July 11 to 28 at Madison in attendance at the first Summer School for Engineering I -1- A; tl.,- country. An equal number of teachers w e r e in at- tendance at Cornell Uni- versity, both schools being conducted by the Society for the Promotion of Engi- neering Education, aided by a special appropriation from the Carnegie Corpor- ation of New York. The school was an experiment based upon the precedent of somewhat similar schools that are conducted in Great Britain. ro -n nenent 01 reaoerI_ r or the Denent of readecrs *o.I. R. \AURER Who are not in a position to follow closely the developments in engineering educa- tion, a little explanation of present conditions will b2 given. The engineering teachers of the country are organize(l into the above-mentioned Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, which has been conolucting an intensive investigation into all phases of engineering eolucationt under the immediate direction of Prof. WV. L. Wickenden, who was, at one time, a member of the faculty of this college. Recently he has been an engineer for the A. T. & T. The Investi- gation has involved the active participation of many of the engineering schools of the country and the question- inig of many alumni and students. Our own alumni an(d stu(Ients and faculty members have contributed their share to the progress of the work. The investigation has been both broad-visioned and searching. Higher edlucation of all kinds has been attacked so viciously within recent years that educators have been olisturbeol about their own work, feeling that perhaps they had an entirely wrong conception of the training of youth and that it was time for something revolutionary in educational methods. iMany experi- ments have been and are being conducted in our engi- neering colleges at the present time in a search for better ways of teaching. One of them that may be mentione(l is the scheme of assigning students to class sections 11pon0 the basis of their scholastic ability. This is being tried in a number of institutions including Wisconsin. The Summer School for Engineering Teachers was an experiment proposed by the Investigation and carried out under the immediate direction of Prof. H. P. Ham- niond, associate director. Mechanics was chosen as the subject about which the work of the school should center for the reason that it is a subject common to all engineering courses and one with which all engi- neering teachers are familiar to some extent. Cornell and Wisconsin were selected as the places at which to hold sessions because of the attractiveness of their surroundings, the opportunities they offer for recre- ation, their housing facilities, and the strength of their departments of mechanics. Methods of Schools are Varied The term school does not indicate accurately the nature of the sessions. The gathering was really a conference between teachers who were upon much the same ground so far as teaching experience was con- cerned. A valuable feature of the Wisconsin Session was the committee work, which gave those in attend- ance an opportunity to present and discuss their ideas about various phases of the teaching of mechanics. The reports of the committees, representing the boiled-down opinions of the majority of the teachers present, should be of value to all teachers of mechanics. There were usually two, and often three sessions each day. Sometimes members of the staff of the school would give demonstrations of their teaching methods, which would be followed by general discussion. Several sessions were spent in laboratories watching and discuss- ing demonstrations. Lectures were numerous. Out- standing among them were the addresses of President Frank and Mr. Wickenden. Both speakers avoided S. P. E. E. SUMMER SESSION platitudes, offering instead something of a challenge. President Frank challenged the proponents of scientific education with the statement that such education is failing to train men and women to think scientifically (Continued on page 26) Volume 32, No. I 16
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