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How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers 350

Posted by Soulskill
from the other-than-million-dollar-signing-bonuses dept. writes: Lina Nilsson writes in an op-ed piece in the NY Times that she looks with despair at estimates that only about 14 percent of engineers in the work force are women. But there may be a solution to the disparity that is much simpler than targeted recruitment efforts. "An experience here at the University of California, Berkeley, where I teach, suggests that if the content of the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves," writes Nilsson. "That applies not only to computer engineering but also to more traditional, equally male-dominated fields like mechanical and chemical engineering." Nilsson says that Blum Center for Developing Economies recently began a new program that, without any targeted outreach, achieved 50 percent female enrollment in just one academic year. In the fall of 2014, UC Berkeley began offering a new Ph.D. minor in development engineering for students doing thesis work on solutions for low-income communities. They are designing affordable solutions for clean drinking water, inventing medical diagnostic equipment for neglected tropical diseases and enabling local manufacturing in poor and remote regions.

According to Nilsson, women seem to be drawn to engineering projects that attempt to achieve societal good. She notes that MIT, the University of Minnesota, Penn State, Santa Clara University, Arizona State, and the University of Michigan have programs aimed at reducing global poverty and inequality that have achieved similar results. For example, at Princeton, the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders has an executive board that is nearly 70 percent female, reflecting the overall club composition. "It shows that the key to increasing the number of female engineers may not just be mentorship programs or child care centers, although those are important," concludes Nilsson. "It may be about reframing the goals of engineering research and curriculums to be more relevant to societal needs. It is not just about gender equity — it is about doing better engineering for us all."

Comment: Modern approach to car safety is wrong (Score 1) 196

by sinij (#49565595) Attached to: The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues
Modern approach to car safety is wrong, instead of focusing on training and testing drivers it was decided that cars must be equipped with automatic systems that take away control from you. Like systems that will override the driver and try to stop the car for you, never mind that tractor trailer behind you that won't be able to stop in time.

Comment: Re:How you drive (Score 3, Interesting) 196

by sinij (#49565551) Attached to: The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues
Not always true. If I stand on brakes on my roadster with huge disks and sports tires I can guarantee that your minivan will rear-end me from a typical safe following distance.

When you drive, you have to always assume that everyone around you is an idiot with a death wish in a broken-down car and try to correct for this with your driving.

Comment: Static lens and no servos or sensors please (Score 4, Insightful) 106

by sinij (#49563445) Attached to: Smart Headlights Adjust To Aid Drivers In Difficult Conditions
Such over-engineered solution is probably works great on a clear night over smooth road with a new car. Try the same over potholed road, when entire front of your car is iced up, with a car that is now 6+ years old and both servos and sensors are worn.

My personal experiences with early generation of 'around the corner' adjustable headlights is that they visibly vibrate over bumps (you can see cutoff oscillate).

Comment: Re:The wetware should become hardware (Score 1) 182

by sinij (#49537757) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Claim To Have Genetically Modified Human Embryos
When we fully understand it, wetware will likely be most efficient form of hardware. Nature tends to favor efficiency for a given environment, we need to borrow this efficiency and adjust it for a different environment. Something like neuron-like nets driven by nano-based neurotransmitters implemented in ceramics?

Comment: Re:We design our hardware, why not wetware? (Score 1) 182

by sinij (#49537713) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Claim To Have Genetically Modified Human Embryos
"This rock" is a short form for a "single planet we live on". I am talking about extinction-level events. If we have two planets with sustainable human population, then humanity could survive a lot more adverse events.

Based on geological record, civilization-ending events are rather frequent on cosmological scale. If our civilization is to survive for more than couple thousand years, we have to concern ourselves with such possibilities.

Comment: We design our hardware, why not wetware? (Score 2) 182

by sinij (#49532701) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Claim To Have Genetically Modified Human Embryos
Evolution got us this far, but to go further we will have to take it into our hands. We need to become smarter, live longer, and be more rational. It will take forever and a day to get there natural way. By then all resources will be gone and we will forever be stuck on this rock.

Comment: Recently had hybrid loaner (Score 1) 622

by sinij (#49528627) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs
I recently had some extensive work done on my non-hybrid car, thankfully all under warranty. My car is vanilla gasoline engine with a manual gearbox. I was given exact same model car as a loaner but with a hybrid drive and CTV.

Well, the hybrid had stop-and-go feature, had regenerative bakes and and new engine grill shutters for supposedly better highway mileage. Over a week of communing, it saved me about 5$ in gas. Underwhelming to say the least, especially when hybrid is at $5000 premium over my model. While I enjoyed eery quietness in electric-only mode, it hardly ever stayed there, and overall fuel savings are just not there. This could be because hybrid system was "strapped" into regular car, and unlike say Prius, that was designed around being hybrid.

I am not averse to electric or hybrid power trains, but I think present EV/hybrid offerings in sub-$100K category are underwhelming. When it is time to replace my car, based on loaner experiences, I would not be considering hybrid version.

Comment: Re:Welcome to corporate future (Score 1) 254

by sinij (#49522695) Attached to: Twitter Rolls Out New Anti-Abuse Tools
Now imagine that almost everyone communicates only via printed pamphlets, but pamphlet-printing business controlled by one censorious individual eager to push his agenda to the detriment of others. Could freedom of speech exists in such hypothetical society?

In Twitter case there isn't "someone else has to do it for you", they are 'common carrier' for speech and nothing more. Starting now and moving forward online communication is more prevalent than in-person speech. It isn't inconceivable to imagine dystopian future where everyone communicates using only 'social' media, and few corporations determine what is acceptable. In such future nobody has freedom of speech, and we get there with unwise individuals pushing for "Right to not get offended".

The moving cursor writes, and having written, blinks on.