I teach a course called Introduction to Engineering in the College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte. With three diverse projects and writing assignments, it’s an work-intensive two-credit hour course that spans about 17 weeks.
Many first-year students have called the class a weed out course. Looking at the pass-fail rate (1 out of 3 repeat the course), you might be tempted to agree.
I disagree.I think the course is way more than a weed out course. Calling it a weeder says it’s extremely difficult for the sake of being extremely difficult. Like jacking the hurdles up when the hurdler’s not looking just to get my jollies. That’s not education. That’s trickery.
The course I teach is not about playing with young minds. It’s a right of passage. A reality check. The math that we use in this college course is basic high school algebra. The papers we require are under five pages. And there are only two of those. Two. We encourage innovative thinking and the use of scientific deduction. We require time management. We require team work. We encourage introspection and independent thinking. We demand hard work. We don’t hold hands. We’re building engineers.
For these reasons the course I teach is not a weed out course because I’m not a gardener. I’m a teacher. And as I teach, I envision myself holding open a door for the wannabe engineers to pass through. I want them to pass through. And no, I’m not going to stick my foot out and trip them when they’re not looking. If they trip, it’s their fault. The road to engineer-hood is a hard one. This course called introduction to engineering, in its small way, gives the students a taste of the life beyond the door.
I think this course is essential to the development of engineers. Of course, I guess I’m a little biased. Your thoughts?