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Schneider, Homer J. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 46, Number 4 (January 1942)

Sheng, Ju Gee
The engineer--as a Chinese sees him,   p. 13


Page 13


THE ENGINEER ---AS A CHINESE SEES HIM
                                 ,4 Yt qcee Shmst, e'43
           Eta Kappa Nu, honoraiy elect)ical engineering fratemnity, received
this interesting pledge
           paper in Chinese. The authom has translated it foi publication
in the WISCONSIN ENGINEER.
I FIND a striking resemblance of views between the
   groups of old scholarly people at home in China and
   some people in the United States on the question of
whether an engineer is an educated man. Both maintain
that his education is very much limited.
  The China group, which has been practicing philoso-
phy, literature, and fine arts since Emperor Yao in the
year 2357 B.C. (he also wrote the oldest poems extant)
thinks that an engineer is no more than an artisan who
builds steel bridges instead of stone arch ones. They have
not liked the new things which have interfered with and
disturbed their living. They would not like to call a man
educated "simply because he learned
a few tricks from  abroad." As our
proverb says: "Know nothing; say
nothing." Let them face the facts and
discover what they are. And those in
the United States presumably know
what an engineer is, and know "how
limited" his education in colleges.
They refuse to recognize him as a well
educated man, because they find he
was "trained" in a special field in the
colleges.
  It is impossible to learn enough of
everything to be of any importance.
It is in the college that we start to
specialize in some field. I am  not
familiar with curricula of high schools
in the United States. The government-
specified curricula of Chinese middle
schools consist of no less than twenty
different subjects in three years of  E
study. Having passed the government    Ju Gee believes
supervised examinations, the student     ent strife wil
knows a little of everything, but not       return hoi
                                                     nex
much of anything. Likewise in the
college, a student may take Latin, French, Spanish and
German. What does he know when he gets out of col-
lege? To count the numbers one to ten in different lan-
guage? There are exceptions. Leonardo da Vinci lived
tm
once; it is very doubtful whether the world will see an-
other.
  A physician, a lawyer, a psychologist or anybody else
who is normal is no more educated than an engineer is.
They are in different fields. People do not expect a phy-
sician to tell why a suspension bridge failed, or a lawyer
to cure diabetes. Why should an engineer be expected to
investigate what made Napoleon so ambitious or to dis-
cuss comparative constitution?
  I do not mean to say that people should stick to their
own business and be unaware of things around their life.
But there are men, educated men, who are very ignorant
                  of common things near to their life.
                  Few people realize that the frequency
of alternating current makes not only
the tuning of their radios possible but
also their electric clocks accurate. Few
realize that carbon dioxide can put out
their lives just as easily as it puts out
fire. Few realize that "calorie" is a
unit of heat, not ounces of potato or
gravy. The biggest human desire is to
know what one does not know. Every-
body is curious and anxious to find
what hides behind that screen of mys-
stery. A smile of triumph comes only
when one is satisfied.
  The knowledge in the entire uni-
verse is like an immense field, both
wide and long. It cannot be mastered
by a single man. An engineer stands
on a part of the field, a section that
may not be beautiful but is practical.
                   He may occupy his own section with
hat an end to pres-
enable him to      opened eyes, seeing all four corners.
e within the       He may then benefit the neighboring
year.              harvest. But he makes no attempt to
raise all by himself. Another one jumps across the field
over many places. He harvests little.
   "Be a two-footed bird (completeness), rather than a
 three-footed cat."
JANUARY, 1942
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