24 March 2008

Top 5 Reasons It Sucks to Be an Engineering Student

Top 5 Reasons It Sucks to Be an Engineering Student, from Wired, via Slashdot.

I think a lot of the same ideas -- poorly written textbooks, relatively non-inflated grades, etc. -- apply to mathematics education (at least in some places) as well. By the way, I'd argue not for grade inflation in math and science courses, but for grade deflation in the rest of the curriculum, because when it gets to the point where there are only, say, three grades that one can reasonably give (A, A-minus, or B-plus) that's just silly. (I even think it's silly for graduate classes; in some courses in my program everyone gets A's. Why even bother making the professor fill out the form with the grades on it? I'd support graduate classes not having grades, which from what I understand is the norm at some places.)

Thankfully, in five weeks I will be done taking classes (for credit) forever.


Anonymous said...

Why even bother making the professor fill out the form with the grades on it?

Because the math department agrees with you (and me) that graduate coursework is beyond the need for the carrot-and-stick mentality of grades, but the administration (and the occasional other department) doesn't. So we have grades to satisfy a meaningless administration requirement designed to make all of a school's graduate programs behave superficially the same for the purposes of the bureaucracy, and we just fill in all the grades as "A" because we don't really care.

Maria H. Andersen said...

Isabel - congrats on being almost done with coursework - but... never say never! It's hard to guess when you'll decide to go back to school again and for what reason! :)

CarlBrannen said...

As a former mining engineering major, my observation is that (1) the problems you work on are stunningly boring but difficult nevertheless, and (2) the degree is very specific as to what classes you take. You have very little choice in what classes you take. A math degree suited me better.

Also, I'd disagree that engineering textbooks are bad. I buy them and read them regularly, and think they're easier to understand than most physics textbooks. Some are written as if the student is just plain stupid.

nathan said...

Well done on getting that Easter date article at Slashdot--I can only wonder if this post will now cause a "God Plays Dice" effect on Slashdot.