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Smart, John W. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Vol. 27, No. 3 (December 1922)

French, N. E.
The engineer; trained or educated,   pp. [VII]-40


Page [VII]


Zbde '(Xisconsin E~ngLneer
                                 UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
VOL. XXVII, NO. 3                           MADISON, WIS.               
              DECE-MBER, I922
                       THE ENGINEER; TRAINED OR EDUCATED
                                            By N. E. FRENCH
                                            Senior Electrical
  Educators of the old school have long deplored the
intensely utilitarian character of modern technical edu-
cation; and late years have seen evidences, from within
the ranks of scientific workers, indicating reversion to
a broader, more liberal plan. War arrested this grow-
ing tendency; war's aftermath, a wave of gross ma-
terialism, stifled it.
  But the idea is not lost, and we are again finding
writers in the technical press advocating the 'human-
izing' of engineering courses.  The purpose, then, of
this discussion is to present an argument, a plea-if you
like-for education through the introduction of a cul-
tural element into the training of the engineer.
  There are probably as many definitions of an edu-
cated man as there are men sufficiently educated to for-
mulate them. One engineer has said:   "An educated
man is one who has developed his soul, mind and body
harmoniously and fully, with the purpose of doing his
work in the world as well as his nature permits."
  That is an admirable definition-as far as it goes-
but I am selfish enough to believe that there is some-
thing in life other than working for the common weal,
that we owe something to ourselves, as well as to so-
ciety. I should like to add to the definition, and say,
"An educated man is one who has developed his mind,
soul, and body harmoniously and fully, with the pur-
pose of doing his work in the world, and to the end
that he wtay come to an appreciation and enjoyment of
the work of others."
   One of the finest paragraphs in English prose, re-
 markable not only for the crystal clearness of its thought
 but also for the beauty in which the thought is clothed,
 is Huxley's definition of a liberal education.
   "That man, I think," said Huxley, "has a liberal
edu-
 cation who has been so trained in youth that his body
 is the ready servant of his will, and does with ease and
 pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it is capable
 of; whose intellect is a clear, cold logic-engine, with all
 its parts of equal strength, and in smooth working order,
 ready to be turned to any kind of work, and spin the
 gossamers as well as forge the anchors of the mind;
 whose mind is stored with a knowledge of the great and
 fundamental truths of Nature and the laws of her op-
 erations; one who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and
 lire, but whose passions are trained to come to heel by a
vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience; who
has learned to love all beauty, whether of nature or of
art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as him-
self."
  It has been said that the technical man is trained, not
educated; that he is taught to do certain things super-
latively well, and that outside of his rather narrow
province he is deplorably uninformed.  In particular,
the charge seems to center on the engineer; perhaps un-
justly so, for surely there are business men, physicians,
-even lawyers and clergymen--whose ignorance of mat-
ters beyond the scope of their profession is often lu-
dicrous. Perhaps we are no more at fault than these,
but I think you will grant sonme justice in the indict-
ment.
  It is true, of course, that no man can master the sum
of human knowledge; he must limit himself to a very
small part-must specialize; and ours, therefore, is
called the age of specialists. It is worth noting, though,
that the value of the specialist to the social order is pro-
portional to the general knowledge which he possesses.
   If we were to learn that Galsworthy or Hamlin Gar-
land urged a course in the 'humanities' for engineering
students, we might ask, with point, just what qualifica-
tions these literary gentlemen enjoy as advisors in a
field so foreign to their experience and talents. On the
other hand, we would be likely to listen with some re-
spect to the remarks of a prominent engineer upon the
same subject.
   Quoting, then, from an address by Steinmetz: "Spe-
 cial knowledge, no matter how extensive or intensive,
 is of very little value unless intelligently directed and
 applied. This requires broadness of view and common
 sense which only a broad, general education can give,
 but which no special training supplies; special training
 rather tends to narrow the view and to hinder a man
 from taking his proper position as a useful member of
 society."
   And again, "There have always been educated and
 uneducated, skilled and unskilled workers.  But with
 the development of modern industrialism a third class
 has arisen between the skilled and the unskilled, the
 educated and the uneducated-men trained to one thing
 only, but to do this very well and efficiently. We call
 them piecewNorkers when working for wages in a fac-


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