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Olin College — Re-Engineering Engineering 181

Posted by kdawson
from the would-you-like-thinking-with-that dept.
theodp writes "In its College Issue, the NYT Magazine profiles tuition-free Olin College, which is building a different breed of engineer, stressing creativity, teamwork, and entrepreneurship — and, in no small part, courage. But questions remain as to whether the industry is ready for the freethinking products of Olin, and vice versa. Few of the class of 2006 are going on to grad study in engineering or jobs in the field."
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Olin College — Re-Engineering Engineering

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  • by randalware (720317) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:09PM (#20797977) Journal

    Watch the graduates !

    They will have trouble with the established firms set in their ways.

    Thus they will be unemployed at a high rate.

    And because of that they will start their own companies !

    And Profit !
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:30PM (#20798101) Homepage Journal
      Or they can start their own companies right away and get short term success, maybe even long term success. Engineers without some amount of business sense might be long term failures too, or even short term failures. It's all a gamble in many ways.
      • I just graduated in December and ran around applying at places for a while. I got some pretty decent job offers (73k + full medical, dental, vision, 18 days paid vacation + 7 paid holidays... etc), but in the end I ended up just working for myself. Bad idea? Probably. I have no business experience, just software engineering. Paying off in the short term? Not as much as one of those jobs would have. Sure, some of my clients are billing out at $75/hour, some at $65, some at $45, some at $30, but it's unpr
        • Sure, some of my clients are billing out at $75/hour, some at $65, some at $45, some at $30
          Here's a bit of business advice - learn the difference between receivables and payables.
          • by Almahtar (991773)
            Good advice there. Yeah, it's also important to learn the difference between casual conversation (where you don't have to word everything correctly if people know what you mean anyway) and formal conversation (where technicalities are important).
            • Casual conversation my arse, it was in writing on a public forum. Other advice would be to not use phrases you heard but don't know the meaning of - and not be such a twat when you do it and rightly get called. You were wrong - end of story. HTH.
              • by GeckoX (259575)
                Here's a bit of business advice: Don't be a dick. Potential customers don't like it.

                You can be right, and you can be so right you're wrong.
                • You think I consider mister I'm-paid-or-maybe-I'm-paying-or maybe-someone-else-is- paying-them-15-quid-an-hour a potential customer? Or you, for that matter? You can both go fuck each other.
                  • by GeckoX (259575)
                    Here's another freebie for you:

                    Everyone is a potential customer.

                    You were being a prick, you got called on it, suck it up and deal.
                    • Everyone is a potential customer.
                      O RLY? Good luck on convincing Jack Daniels to orient their marketing towards Muslims.

                      You were being a prick, you got called on it
                      No I wasn't, you and your boyfriend were being pretentious knobends and you got called.
              • by Almahtar (991773)

                Casual conversation my arse, it was in writing on a public forum.
                LOL - if you consider posting on /. a "formal" setting you are way too uptight, man.
      • by zotz (3951)
        "Or they can start their own companies right away and get short term success, maybe even long term success."

        Not as engineers though right? I mean, engineers still need to work in the industry under a PE before they can sit for their PE license. (broad concept...) Well, I guess they could hire PEs and work under them while still being their boss in some way...

        all the best,

        drew

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biOFnAlXrV8 [youtube.com]
        UFO engineering there...
        • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
          Well, I guess they could hire PEs and work under them while still being their boss in some way...

          Yep, legal in all states to have a PE as one of the managing partners of the company and have non-PEs as the other managers. Not sure about just hiring PEs, but I'm sure that there are some who don't want to be arsed to deal with the business side of things, and would be perfectly happy as chief of engineering or something.

          Besides, not all design work requires a PE. You just can't represent yourself as an

          • by zotz (3951)
            "This still leaves a lot of opportunity open."

            Sure. I wasn't hinting otherwise.

            I graduated in 81 with a BS in ocean engineering. I sat for and obtained my Florida State Engineer Intern Certificate. (I seem to remember us calling it the EIT.)

            I never did a lick of work in the field after that and ended up teaching myself what I needed to know to get by in the area of computers.

            all the best,

            drew
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by nxtr (813179)
      And Profit !

      Perhaps this is the missing intermediate step in the underwear gnomes' formula?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ILuvRamen (1026668)
      It's just like programming. Every company is turbo-stupid in only taking interns and people with 5+ years of experience for any real programming job. So the fresh grads write their own software and a big company buys and and then they get hired.
      I like engineering being like that too cuz then you get more inventions. It takes a company forever to invent something new with all the budgeting and paperwork and meetings and higher ups and blah blah blah. If engineers can't get hired, they just invent someth
    • I agree, the present legacy S&D biz-model promotes trickle-down economics for intransigent Luddite-management that avoids innovation, risk ....

      I think, this could be another element (like OSS, Open standards ...) used to structure a more enfranchising techno-equal global economic architecture that will gradually displace by (success or failure) meritocracy the present oligarchical feudal-serf corporate-economics/governance.

      I can always hope.
  • Hard facts first (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:17PM (#20798029)
    2 stories after the "why are no American kids going to grad school?" article, we have an article that explains how Engineering is teamwork, enthusiasm, and feeling good about yourself. Coincidence?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Acrimonymous (1164185)
      I'm more annoyed that it has extended to colleges. It used to be that public schools peddled this super-sensitive horseshit. Now kids are not only learning it in high school, they're having it reinforced throughout college.

      I don't know whether to be ecstatic that my job is secure, or annoyed that my employees from now on will all be clueless idiots....
      • I hate to break it to you, but being comfortable with teamwork and having confidence in yourself and your abilities (as well as knowing when you don't have all of the information/experience that you need and when to defer to others who *do* have the requisite skills and experience) is not "super-sensitive" nor is it "horseshit".

        In fact, they are very valuable skills and attributes to have. Not just in engineering, but in life.
      • I wonder if you have ever worked on a team with someone who is a complete and utter asshole. No matter how good they are at what they do, the effect it has on you being able to do your work more then cancels any gains from his work.
    • by Valar (167606) on Sunday September 30, 2007 @12:04AM (#20798643)
      Are you suggesting that there's no teamwork in engineering?

      Interesting facts:

      Most airplanes are designed by one person.

      Most computer chips are designed by one person.

      Buildings, ditto.

      Oh wait. Hmm.

      Anyway, even if engineering specifically didn't require the ability to work in a team, modern life does. That's why companies exist in the first place-- you can make more money together than apart.
      • Yes but, last time I checked, someone who never learned proper aerodynamics isn't going to be designing an airplane, even with a bunch of them in a team.

        Teamwork is nice, but it's more important that you know what you're doing. It's not too hard to learn at least the basics of teamwork while working on a large project, but it's extremely difficult to learn the basics of what you're doing while working on the same project.
        • I disagree. I think it's far easier to teach someone the technical stuff (although they should be expected to know that too), than to teach them how to not be an asshole. How many people with poor people skills have you worked with, who later turned it around? I know my total would be 0, and I suspect many others have had the same experience.
          • by profplump (309017)
            I don't disagree per say, but how many people have you worked with that didn't have the necessary technical skills, but later turned it around? I know my total would be 0, and just like the assholes, sometimes they even drag otherwise useful people down with them.
            • It's true. I think that both technical and people skills are equally necessary to be a good member of a team. Lacking either means that the team suffers because of you. I just was saying that technical skills can be taught, whereas people skills are almost impossible to teach to adults.
          • How many people with poor people skills have you worked with, who later turned it around? I know my total would be 0, and I suspect many others have had the same experience.

            So true.

            A-holes abound in all job fields, and lots of them got their jobs because of who they know,
            vs. what they know. Butt kissing and nepotism play a big factor in some jobs in the US.

            I imagine it occurs overseas as well.

            I have seen ppl at companies here in the US who are totally unqualified for the job
            that not even decent ppl to wor
          • Of course, I've never seen a college class that could turn an asshole into someone you would want to work with. The only thing that can even mitigate that is good leadership at the current position to keep the asshole in line.

            Not that practicing teamwork skill isn't important - but aside from practice in general social manners, the only useful things I can see actually teaching someone are less teamwork and more leadership.

            In my experience, the best teams of anything aren't a group of equals - they're a gro
        • by p0tat03 (985078)
          Who says the two are mutually exclusive? Besides, one has to create the foundation for a good engineer before proceeding to stuff all kinds of technical jargon into his head.
      • by jcr (53032)
        Most airplanes are designed by one person.

        Not quite. There are many more kit plane designs than half-billion-dollar airliner designs, but if you count up the number of aircraft rather than the number of types of aircraft, the majority are types that were designed by large teams.

        -jcr

      • by nwbvt (768631)

        Are you suggesting that there is no mathematics or science or any of the other things this program has to forgo in order to have its students attend the happy feel good courses it describes?

        The problem with engineers today isn't that they look at their shoes when talking so someone like they say in the article, thats a joke, not real life. In reality, many engineers are very outgoing people, and those that are not are perfectly capable of working with a team. Real engineers rarely fit the stereotype of

    • by fermion (181285)
      From personal experience, the lack of engineers has more to do with the lack of jobs for the average person than the lack of graduates. I know many engineers, and the ones that are not working as engineers are not doing so because there were no interesting jobs available to them. Even those that are employed tend to have seen the companies reduce the overall job picture, even in oil companies.

      To digress, when I was a kid, I really thought that I would be working in energy or space. But then I realized

  • by toxic666 (529648) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:24PM (#20798073)
    I'm not that old, 43, but feel like an old timer in engineering. Son of a EE gone Chief Engineer and trained as a GeolE (1987).

    Olin is not inventing a new kind of engineer, they are trying to bring back the engineers of my father's generation. But they can put out the finest people on earth and it won't matter. Bean counters run companies now and they don't like what a good engineer has to say. Horrible things like "we need money to develop this idea", "saving ten cents per item will not save you money in the long run when it breaks and you have to replace it" and the ever-popular "outsourcing production to the cheapest labor you can find is not a good idea because it takes a little bit of skill and QA/QC to build it right".
    • by AaxelB (1034884) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:05PM (#20798301)
      I'm kinda the opposite of an old timer in engineering (a current undergrad), so maybe I can give a good opposing viewpoint.

      Bean counters run companies now and they don't like what a good engineer has to say.
      Olin College was my first choice when I was applying to colleges a few years back (alas, I got rejected) largely because the things they emphasize ("creativity, teamwork, and entrepreneurship") aren't geared to produce engineers that will simply serve the "bean counters" better. Note the emphasis they place on entrepreneurship. These "new" engineers are not supposed to take your standard entry-level engineering job, they're supposed to come up with brand new ideas and create new companies that will be founded on the same concepts that Olin was, thus actually chaging the role of engineers, not just how they're taught.

      I think they think that long term change is easier to accomplish by changing the playing field rather than just training the players differently.
      • by toxic666 (529648) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:49PM (#20798549)
        Ahh, it's good to see some thought process going on out there. But an engineering degree does not an engineer make. My education began in earnest after I graduated and worked under experienced engineers in an entrepreneurial situation. It took two years in the field -- 1987 to 1989 -- before I was ready to play. I maintain contact with college profs and its a good two-way exchange. They have the theory and new ideas, I have the practical experience.

        But to make new companies it takes experience and a business plan. Enter the bean counters. And the bean counters now control the playing field.

        It can be done, and it still happens. But primarily, engineering is no longer respected. The engineer as innovator is underfunded and engineer as quality/safety voice is unheard.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mmurphy000 (556983)

          But to make new companies it takes experience and a business plan. Enter the bean counters. And the bean counters now control the playing field.

          Speaking as a two-time — soon to be three-time — entrepreneur, there's a mix of internal and external factors at play here.

          External factors, like America's sue-happy society and mountains of regulation, can't readily be addressed by any individual firm or college program. We can only hope that enough individual firms and college programs take root th

        • My education began in earnest after I graduated and worked under experienced engineers in an entrepreneurial situation. It took two years in the field -- 1987 to 1989 -- before I was ready to play.

          I agree, you need to do your time in the trenches. If nothing else it gets your head out of the clouds. And if you're going to make mistakes - the raw material of experience - better to do them on someone else's expense rather than your own.

          I think the goals are fine, but they'd work better as a postgrad (ideall

        • Honestly, it sounds like you've just given up.

          Maybe you should apply to Olin.
          • by toxic666 (529648)
            Not given up, but realistic. When you go to several CFO's with a a six month ROI and get shot down because that's too long to wait, you get the idea. Most companies work that way, but not all. It's just tough to find the ones who think beyond the next quarter.
      • by br00tus (528477)

        they're supposed to come up with brand new ideas and create new companies that will be founded on the same concepts that Olin was

        Manufacturing stuff that blows up (people)?

    • by Kjella (173770)
      Having seen a little bit from both sides of the fence, it wouldn't hurt to see those "old school" engineers being asked questions like "ok, who wants this and how much are they willing to pay for it?" (answer: almost noone and almost nothing). Or "customers aren't willing to pay for a product that lasts 20 years, but they're willing to pay four times for a product that lasts five years. Would you rather ship the best possible product or the one we can make a living of?". Or "tell me why you think this india
      • Would you rather ship the best possible product or the one we can make a living of?".

        The best possible product that people will buy? There's such a thing as a reputation for quality.

        Or "tell me why you think this indian engineer, who's probably in the top few percentiles of indians in general, can't do as good a job as you?"

        He probably can. Good luck getting him for cheap.

    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      I'm a bit older, non-degreed and have 25 years experience in process plant design. What I often see is over-reliance on software. CAD especially seems to have caused a lot of problems (some companies do it right, but far too often it's worse than hand-made drawings).
  • Good plan. (Score:2, Interesting)

    Now, let's see it at other levels of communication.

    I, as a student of a public high school in America, take in more force-fed facts that are expected to be regurgitated, and get fewer and fewer chances to let my creative juices flow. Rather than writing that a person thinks something happened, I think someone could get more of a benefit out of writing about why it happened.

    Perhaps that's why all forms of math are just so hard for me to wrap my head around; I know that things work, but I don't see why
    • Now, let's see it at other levels of communication.

      I, as a student of a public high school in America, take in more force-fed facts that are expected to be regurgitated, and get fewer and fewer chances to let my creative juices flow. Rather than writing that a person thinks something happened, I think someone could get more of a benefit out of writing about why it happened.

      Perhaps that's why all forms of math are just so hard for me to wrap my head around; I know that things work, but I don't see why it's u
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by dragoneye1589 (970098)
        I semi-agree with you saying that you are force fed facts in university. The thing about it is, you aren't being forced to learn, its fully up to you, the informations there for you, but if you don't want it, good for you. Now I haven't had to learn a lot in one week yet (I'm only a first year engineering student), but at the speeds most high schools go at, learning that much should not be a problem. About not being "creative enough" I have been told by my professors, that they will teach us lots of fact
        • by Rakishi (759894)

          Now one of the things that always bugged me about primary and secondary education is that they were lacking the creativity to figure out ways to challenge, or at least keep interested the students that found the material in classes excessively easy.

          That is mainly a problem of parents not the schools, in that there are ways around it even right now but few parents want to take the effort to do so for their children or actually force their little brats to learn something.

          There are magnet schools, distance learning programs, grade skipping, taking classes at local college, taking classes from higher grades, learning on your own, moving to a district with better schools, sending kids to a district with better schools, summer programs, college level summe

      • by JWW (79176)
        You need to really want to devour knowledge. No teacher, no matter how good, can be a substitute for a passion to learn and thats something that isn't imparted much these days.

        I agree with you, but I'm seeing a much different problem with our schools. That problem is that the work they make students do is crap!!

        My son has a passion for learning and will absorb facts and details, but what he's getting from school for homework make it appear that teachers have a passion for drilling and for useless time wast
    • by nwbvt (768631)

      First, that has nothing to do with the No Child Left Behind Act, I can assure you public schools were like that well before Bush was ever president. Hell schools were probably like that before any Bush was president, though that would be from before my time. Many (especially here on /. where Bush isn't exactly seen in high regard (not sure how the reconcile the fact Ted Kennedy was the one who really pushed it through though)) like to blame all the woes of our education system on that act, but that belie

  • Misfits (Score:3, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:30PM (#20798099) Homepage
    From TFA:

    In some companies, he says, the freethinking products of Olin might have trouble fitting in. "Does industry want people like that? I think that's a very good question, but I think this goes beyond what industry wants," he said. "This is the right thing to do -- this is what industry needs. If the country had more people like this, we'd be in a much better situation."
    Does Olin offer courses in:
    • How to change Wall St. to stop looking only at the next quarter's results?
    • How to deal with PHB's and bean counters?
    • How to persuade the customer to fund your "freethinking" idea instead of the customer's idea?
    If not, Olin is producing useless misfits. Oh, I agree that "misfit" is something "good" to be sought after in a certain sense -- creativity is what makes us human. But that's not what the economy needs in the post-Industrial Revolution world.
    • Disruption == Key (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DaftShadow (548731) on Sunday September 30, 2007 @12:29AM (#20798805)
      One of the key ways that money is made is by disrupting the status quo. Take something that is good, and make it much better. Take something that is thought of as important, and replace it completely. Think of every great product that you know - the kind of products that changed everything how people live and work. The hammer, the wheel, the model-T, the plow, the longbow, the musket, the steam engine, the computer, automated mfg, the internet. Hell, even simple things, like the ipod. These creations have improved the possibilities of the human experience (except, maybe, the ipod ;). This is what Olin college is attempting to inspire.

      Industry is floundering because it has stopped giving engineers and creative types the responsibility of actual creation. If we, as a society, wish to bring engineering and manufacturing back to our side of the world, we need colleges and programs like the ones that Olin is taking on. We need engineers who will develop & create beyond our expectations. This is important to the future success of America.

      - DaftShadow
      • Regarding the Model T, for every Henry Ford we need a thousand assembly line workers. We would need a fundamental change in society to accommodate everyone being a Henry Ford. It would be good if we could change society in that way, and my point was that unless Olin is also teaching ways to transform society -- or at least interface with our dysfunctional society -- it is setting up its students for failure, or at least greater frustration than the rest of us.
        • If every engineer was a "Henry Ford", we could develop fully automated robotic production systems, on the cheap, that would completely do away with the need for line technicians. We would also be able to put huge amounts of brain power on challenges like solving cheap propulsion, cheap non-polluting energy, and full-bore space travel.

          Making the claim that engineers need to be by-the-book, follow orders types, is quite disingenuous. They are like that right now, and look what is happening to our engin
          • by bateleur (814657)
            There are two problems which exist in parallel.

            Problem one is how best to train your smartest students.

            Problem two is what happens to the line technicians when you automate their jobs. Because realistically they're not all going to be moving to research-level tasks. Most of them won't be anything like smart enough.
            • Problem two is what happens to the line technicians when you automate their jobs. Because realistically they're not all going to be moving to research-level tasks. Most of them won't be anything like smart enough.

              A great point. I still don't have a complete answer to this yet, although I have some ideas that I can expand upon. I should note first that all the 'line technicians' in the USA account for only 2% of the job force. That being said, GEM consortium [gemconsortium.org] has research showing that entrepreneurial a
            • by knewter (62953)
              Think you're falling prey to what Bryan Caplan calls the Make-Work bias (http://www.reason.com/news/show/122019.html [reason.com]). It's a few pages down, third heading. Anyway, the gist is that productivity isn't a zero-sum game. Better to have the robots doing the factory jobs, as it's thankless work with a high risk of injury. A good quote:

              After technology throws people out of work, they have an incentive to find a new use for their talents. The Dallas Fed economist W. Michael Cox and the journalist Richard Alm illustrate this process in their 1999 book Myths of Rich and Poor, citing history's most striking example, the drastic decline in agricultural employment: "In 1800, it took nearly 95 of every 100 Americans to feed the country. In 1900, it took 40. Today, it takes just 3....The workers no longer needed on farms have been put to use providing new homes, furniture, clothing, computers, pharmaceuticals, appliances, medical assistance, movies, financial advice, video games, gourmet meals, and an almost dizzying array of other goods and services."

              DISCLAIMER: My dad runs a robotics engineering company. I was certainly raised to cheer when a machine could put thirty humans out of their job at the factory, because /every

  • Paradigm! (Score:3, Funny)

    by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:49PM (#20798199) Homepage Journal
    Oooh! Oooh! An exciting new paradigm. Is the world really ready for this exciting new paradigm yet. I bet it isn't!

    Well, best of luck to them. My exciting new paradigm of sleeping in until midday every day hasn't caught on in the stoic and unchanging business world. They just haven't caught on to my forward and freethinking ways. But just you wait... my Slashdot story is coming soon!
  • Y-Combinator(Olin) (Score:3, Insightful)

    by univgeek (442857) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @10:51PM (#20798221)
    Interesting :-).

    Y-combinator seems to be generating 40 quickie get-big-or-die-trying companies a year. What I found interesting is that in a few years 'Alumnus of Y-combinator' is going to have a very good cachet associated with it - just as an MS from a good college does. There're going to be a bunch of successes and even those who don't succeed will have the associated aura. The guys who put themselves through Y-combinator are a self-selected bunch of motivated people, who might even have an above average chance of succeeding in life.

    Olin students might have similar self-selected characteristics. And in a few years, the results of that experiment - with widespread Olin alumni support - are going to be worth watching.

    Note, I'm in no way related to either. Just speculating on a correlation that I see.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Not convinced about that myself. The Y-Combinator companies seem to be mostly cookie-cutter "let's take this well worn problem, and do it in Rails!" type ventures. Wake me up when one has a truly new idea, executes well, and gets big. Until then it's basically riding on Grahams name.
  • by ceallaigh (584362) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:02PM (#20798287)
    Engineering based firms that hire Computer Science and Computer Engineering undergraduates are struggling to meet their recruitment goals today. Although coming up with new ways to shape the skills and experiences of engineering undergraduates is noble and necessary. It hardly helps with the overall lack of new students majoring in those subjects at university in the first place. This program is an interesting experiment at an elite school. But it hardly has any impact on the lack of students choosing this field.

    The other problem I have with it is that the ideas espoused are not terribly new. At the University of Nebraska's School of Engineering students can enter the JD Edwards Honors program with an emphasis in Business.

    http://jdedwards.unl.edu/ [unl.edu]

    I tend to not hire CompSci or CompE students from this program because as entry level hires they have incredibly unrealistic expectations about their first job. They all want to transition to management right away before cutting their teeth on engineering design. So we tend to skip them over when we get resumes.

    Sean
    • You say

      It hardly helps with the overall lack of new students majoring in those subjects at university in the first place

      you also say

      I tend to not hire CompSci or CompE students from this program because as entry level hires they have incredibly unrealistic expectations about their first job

      To me it follows that what you want is cheap, submissive employees that just do what some "manager" told them

      Really, why should somebody do engineering ?, do managment instead. You will know nothing about what you are managing (Dilber Principle) but at least you will be rewarded with a manager position and the associated money

      • No, I think the point he was making was that to be an engineer you need to go through an apprenticeship, not jump straight into management type roles.

        So he rightly said that when recruiting for engineering positions, he didn't tend to look at these schools.

        By the way, when I started work as an engineer, it was as a Student Apprentice, and I did a lot of workshop, and assembly line, work, as part of it. I have the knuckles to prove it.

  • by Wansu (846) on Saturday September 29, 2007 @11:33PM (#20798447)

      Few of the class of 2006 are going on to grad study in engineering or jobs in the field.

    This is no surprise since engineering job opportunities for US citizens have been dwindling in 21st century.
    • Few of the class of 2006 are going on to grad study in engineering or jobs in the field.

      This may not be a bad thing. I would be a much happier engineer if there were more people in the marketing, sales, and product management roles who had a better background in engineering.

  • Someone please show me where on their web site it states that the education is tuition-free. All I can find is this: Cost and Financial Aid [olin.edu]

    You have to get the Olin Scholarship, which has the equivalent amount of the tuition. But it certainly does not say anyone admitted will be qualified. You certainly will have to go through the competitive qualification process, just like any other colleges?

    If it's really tuition-free, I'll apply for a graduate engineering degree in a heart beat.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      EVERY admitted student gets the full tuition Olin scholarship.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by VanWEric (700062)
      I'm one of the Olin Alumni (Class of '07).

      Everyone who is admitted receives the scholarship. In fact, for 06 and 07s, room was included as well.

      However, we do not offer graduate degrees. Olin is undergrad only.
  • Former MIT faculty (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ellen Spertus (31819) on Sunday September 30, 2007 @12:13AM (#20798699) Homepage
    Several of the Olin faculty members are fantastic teachers who were denied tenure at MIT because (in my opinion) their devotion to teaching cut into their research, which is all that counts toward MIT tenure. (This includes my advisor, Lynn Stein.) I'd be proud to teach at Olin or to send my children (if I had any) there.
    • by belg4mit (152620)
      >which is all that counts toward MIT tenure
      Besides being up to the department to decide where to place the emphasis, within the the limits of Institute policy,
      this is an overly broad generalization. I only know of three tenure cases personally, and in at least one of them
      teaching over research was most definitely not a problem. Nobody understands what the hell happened with the second,
      and the third being the recent BE prof. is also a complex mess.
  • While I am not certain from this story what exactly Olin is doing, the general concept is not new. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology's "ABET 2000" standard was intentionally designed to allow colleges to come up with programs similar to this. Instead of mandating you will must take "Calculus I, II, & III" like older ABET standards, much more finer requirements are required, which no mandate on which course provides the lecture. For example: I intended an ABET 2000 certified engin

    • Worcester Polytechnic Institute [wpi.edu] undertook a major restructuring of their undergraduate program in the early 70's, called "The WPI Plan", known on-campus as "The Plan". Broadly, the aim of The Plan was to produce engineers who were more aware of the impact of technology on society and vice versa. Key elements of The Plan when instituted:

      A project-focused curriculum (I notice that project orientation was the first thing the NYT noted about Olin), including multi-term projects: a Major Qualifying Project

    • One example of another school using similar techniques is Rowan University [rowan.edu]'s College of Engineering [rowan.edu], which graduated their first engineering class in 2000. They base most of their Engineering Curriculum around a course called the "Engineering Clinic", where students work in small teams to generate real-world products and results. At the Junior & Senior levels, Rowan's clinic projects are usually sponsored by various companies, as well as local government agencies. The projects ra

  • by david in brasil (1103683) on Sunday September 30, 2007 @06:45AM (#20800175)
    A couple of times a year, I pull up the following and read it, trying to realign my thinking process. I don't know who originally wrote it; I've had it for years. I apologize for the long post, but it's worth it. ++++++++++++++++++++ Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.I read the examination question: "SHOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE THE HEIGHT OF A TALL BUILDING WITH THE AID OF A BAROMETER." The student had answered, "Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it,lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building." The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute, he dashed off his answer which read: "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch.Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^^2, calculate the height of the building." At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded,and gave the student almost full credit. While leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said that he had other answers to the problem,so I asked him what they were. "Well," said the student, "there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building,and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the building." "Fine," I said, "and others?" "Yes," said the student, "there is a very basic measurement method you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units." "A very direct method." "Of course. If you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of g at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g, the height of the building,in principle, can be calculated." "On this same tact, you could take the barometer to the top of the building,attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street, and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height of the building by the period of the precession". "Finally," he concluded, "there are many other ways of solving the problem.Probably the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: 'Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give you this barometer." At this point, I asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think. The student was Neils Bohr.
    • by Afecks (899057) on Sunday September 30, 2007 @12:09PM (#20801921)

      The student was Neils Bohr.
      Any relation to Niels Bohr? No, to be serious, that's just a legend and only recently have people started tacking Niels Bohr at the end, just to give the entire story a feeling of vindication.

      http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/barometer.asp [snopes.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by DanielLee50 (1154125)
        Nice verification, gotta love that Internet.

        I liked the story, I don't think it even needed a name attached to it to have value.

        There was a time in high school art class where I refused to do a project because I did not feel that the teacher had a right to grade it using her opinion of what was or was not art or good art. She gave me an F which was enough to prevent my graduating. I ended up having to stay after school and do an art project where it was preagreed that it was not to be graded. I did graduate
    • I remember in grade 5 or so we were asked to complete a test which was supposed to indicate how gifted we were. There were pictures on each page and a series of questions below. At no time during the test did the questions state "based on the picture above" or "look at the picture above" so I completely ignored them. As a result the questions meant nothing and I did horribly. I realized later that the pictures were the source of the answers. Obvious to most, but to this day I take things very, very lit
  • And they are by far some of the most intelligent hands-on people I have ever met. Although I am in no way qualified to comment on their credentials and experience - I am a Junior at Babson College - most of the successful v.c./angel pitches that are done by groups of Babson students at any one of our yearly events events include students from Olin as part of the founding team.

    Like I said, I am not qualified on their engineering talent. I do know that they only accept students who can demonstrate a committ
  • Engineering is difficult. A four year college education is just barely enough for an intelligent, hard-working student to learn enough in all the major areas of electrical engineering to not be a burden in his first year at work, unless his first job happily coincides with the areas he didn't miss. Time spent on humanities and foolishness like teamwork and courage training is time taken away from learning engineering skills.

    Teamwork comes naturally and doen't have to be taught. On the job, your manager giv

    • Teamwork comes naturally and doen't have to be taught. On the job, your manager gives you part of a project to do and tells you who to talk with to interface with the rest of the project. That talking is where teamwork comes in; you get a glimpse of other portions of the project, and if you can see deficiencies in other places you discuss them (and vice-versa for others looking at your portion). No particular courage needed.

      Teamwork comes naturally, but you need experience. The biggest problem most fresh o

  • Few of the class of 2006 are going on to grad study in engineering or jobs in the field.

    2006? Good to keep tabs on graduates, but I think it will take more than a year to gauge the effectiveness of the program in serving its graduates. Maybe wait till 2009 or 2010 to evaluate the prospects of the Olin University Engineers.

    I know the best and brightest are often encouraged to do stuff like Peace Corps after graduating. I wonder how many Olin Engineers are building bridges in developing countries and getting some hands on experience that way?

    And graduating debt free means they aren't automat

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