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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/245

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sightedness of that large majority of employers who for years have required from the engineers they employ not broad training and scientific capacities, but a facility in the particular operative requirements of their industries. In part, this condition has arisen from the competition of technical schools for students, and the resulting tacit commercial agreement between institution and student that each graduate shall be found his first employment. Thus an institution chooses the heads of its departments, as far as its finances allow, not for teaching ability, but for influential acquaintanceship with men of affairs. To place the average of its product it must train for immediate usefulness. There results a number of attendant and contributory evils, such as shop methods of instruction by an inbred teaching staff, the detailed following year after year of the same outlines for courses, the performance of laboratory work as an end instead of as a means of encouraging analysis and vivifying principles, an over-emphasis of draughting and machine shop work, the construction by classes of dynamos and steam engines as advertising evidence of technical proficiency, the steady cramming of formulæ and numerical values of physical constants, the narrowing commercialized outlook upon all problems of life, the lack of esprit de corps, and the more or less entire absence of cultural studies and influences. Such an arraignment can not hold against all our technical schools, but upon the whole the exceptions are not individual institutions, but their individual departments.

Whatever may be the faults of curriculum and educational policy to which the technical school student is subjected, he learns to work hard, consistently and with scientific honesty. Upon this gospel of hard work depend almost entirely his chances of future salvation and success. In the commercial world, however, many pockets and ruts await the man of narrow training and hard-working proclivities. From these pockets, to be found in any large manufacturing or operating industry, too frequently the technical school graduate fails to rise. In many cases native disabilities are to blame, but more frequently the narrowness of an early training is the fundamental cause. This narrowness of preparation may be analyzed generally into three defects.

First, and most seriously to be charged to the account of the technical schools, is the lack of scientific breadth and depth which has been previously mentioned. Upon too thin a layer of pure science and mathematics does the engineering school build its superstructure of commercial machines and technical processes. Too soon do empirical equations and shop rules take the place of mathematical analysis and a priori reasoning, Too soon does the laboratory work become an exercise in the operation of commercial machines under conditions which require of the student only the throwing of switches and the reading