Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/260

This page has been validated.
256
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

And the proof of all this lies in the fact that the speaker had sought unsuccessfully in several technical schools for a man willing to teach mechanical and electrical engineering under missionary auspices in a foreign land. His argument was strengthened by the assertion of one president that the young men in his institution were not in engineering for the good they could do in the world, but for the amount of profitable employment they could secure for themselves. And the survey of conditions led to this forecast:

I believe we are going to have to face in this land that inevitable result of our technical education. We have turned away young men and some young women from the great classical ideals of self-sacrifice in fields where they could do the most unselfish work.

These statements, made in all sincerity by one who is respected by all who know him, appeal directly to the prejudices of many who wish well to all mankind; but they are defective and the defect arises from confounding things wholly unlike and unrelated.

Technical schools are not schools for the study of science, but schools in which the principles of pure science are applied to practical operations. Like trade schools, schools of law or medicine, they are to prepare a man to earn a livelihood in honest and honorable fashion, to do well that which formerly was done in slipshod fashion. Mental and moral training, as such, have only incidental place, yet such training is as inseparable from their work as muscular training is inseparable from apprenticeship in blacksmithing. When one considers that students in such schools are taught to regard theirs as professional work of the highest grade; are taught to regard honorable dealing as the foundation stone of a successful career; are trained from the outset to recognize the great responsibility awaiting them, in that the security of vast properties and the safety of communities will depend upon their skill, accuracy and honesty; he can not doubt that even the coarse fiber of an unscrupulous man will undergo some refining during a four years' course. And the facts amply confirm the a priori conclusion. The writer knows that the moral standard among engineers of every type—chemical, civil, sanitary, electrical, mining, mechanical—is immeasurably higher than in the days when there were no technical schools, when the work of such professions was left mostly to mechanics. If the standard of professional honor were not high, very high, our national prosperity would come to an end, for all depends on the engineer.

There is no room for pessimism here. Men should thank God and take courage for the future as they see the influence of technical training, which has transformed the face of the world and led to increasing recognition of unity of interest. Improvements in mining and metallurgy have brought about improved methods of transportation and