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to be arranged, it might be more advantageous to him in developing his power of thought. In large classes, however, such a plan would be impracticable, and it may be said in favor of carefully prepared blanks that they give training in system and order. The papers that have been read hence present excellent solutions of the problems forced upon us in handling large numbers of students, and it must be said that great credit is due to instructors in laboratory work for the systematic methods which they are developing.
PROFESSOR GAETANO LANZA: Only two of the matters mentioned in the interesting and valuable paper of Professor Hatt will be referred to here. First, every competent teacher must constantly put forth his best efforts to make the students think for themselves, and the more completely he can accomplish this object, the greater will be the success attendant upon his teaching; as the student who only memorizes and does not think, is not competent to undertake the solution of such new problems as are constantly liable to arise in the practice of his profession. Second, the object of a graduating thesis is, to my mind, to teach the student how to make investigation. I prefer that the student should, if feasible, select the subject himself, the professor, of course, advising him, and not allowing him to take up a subject in which it is not possible for him to do good work. Then a student should, with the advice of the professor, map out a plan for carrying on the investigation, which, again, the professor should pass upon, and when the plan is properly arranged the student should perform the work.
MR. BRADLEY STOUGHTON: One thing which you, Mr. President, have so well said at this meeting already, interested me very greatly, and I desire to refer to it again. That is, the propriety of studying, not the details of any practice, but the principles upon which that practice rests. It seems to me that, in this way, we should find a solution of the various questions we have been discussing here this evening. A student mind is a limited vessel, and if one tries to fill it too full, and especially too full of details, it begins to spill and leak very fast, so that the amount of knowledge which escapes is altogether disproportionate to the amount which remains. In our over-crowded laboratories it is a great temptation to adopt printed laboratory blanks, routine methods of instruction and systems which enable us to put a number of students through the motions of many tests in a limited time. But is this the best method of concentrating their attention on the principles which we desire them to absorb? True, they become momentarily acquainted with many details, some of the least important of which are repeated several times, but it gives them neither the encouragement nor the time for independent thought which alone impresses them with the underlying principles of their occupation, but which almost every man finds at first both tedious and unattractive.
PROFESSOR WILLIAM KENT: We have heard a good deal lately of teaching principles and not details. In order to get a correct knowledge of principles close attention should be given to details. One of my students had a knowledge of the principles of the connecting rod, but about the details all he knew was that it is a bar with two holes in it. He didn't know anything
about the strap, key, the shape or thickness. His powers of observation or his habit of attention to details had not been cultivated enough. What he needed was more knowledge of details, as a foundation for his knowledge of principles.
Our professor of electrical engineering recently complained that his junior students had not been sufficiently grounded in the fundamentals of electricity, information which they ought to get in the sophomore year. I told him to write out fifteen or twenty questions covering the points in electrical physics which every student ought to be able to pass one hundred per cent. on before he comes into the junior class. He wrote out the questions covering all the information a man actually needed before entering the junior work, and there is no reason why every one of these questions ought not have been answered one hundred per cent. They were the fundamentals and went into details all right. The professor of physics was glad to have the list of questions and asked me to give him fifteen or twenty questions on heat, the answers to which should be known thoroughly by every junior student in mechanical engineering. Physics should be taught with reference to its application in engineering work, and the same might be said of other fundamental studies, such as mathematics and even English.
PROFESSOR W. K. Hatt (by letter): Every one agrees that every effort should be used to prevent an unthinking performance of work on the part of students, and, if necessary, even efficiency of administration and the inculcation of method should be sacrificed to this end. In the paper of the speaker certain practices are described which lead the student to a thinking consideration of his work. It is also true that by properly prepared instruction sheets describing manipulation, etc., the instructor's time can be given to the desired end, and by properly prepared blank forms the student is relieved of purely clerical work and his time can be devoted to the thing in hand. It is in favor of the use of proper forms, that it is part of the duty of the instructor to inculcate system and good habits with respect to recording data. All this general discussion which has followed the paper is of interest but scarcely touches the point. The problem of the paper is one of meeting practical conditions of administration of a course so that the largest use of the equipment may be obtained without allowing the work to degenerate to a mere mechanical performance.
PLAN AND SCOPE OF THE PROPOSED INVESTI-
BY J. A. HOLMES AND RICHARD L. HUMPHREY.
The United States Geological Survey for many years has been carrying on investigations of the natural resources of this country. Requests have been coming, with increasing frequency, from engineers throughout the country for information regarding the properties of the materials of construction manufactured from these raw products.
In order to supply the needs and bring the work more directly in touch of the engineer, a new department under the title of technology and metallurgy has been organized, and the first illustration of its operation was in connection with the investigation of Fuels, which was inaugurated during the past year as one of the United States Government Exhibits of the Mines and Metallurgy Department of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
It was organized on what might be called a small commercial basis, 250 H.P., for which Congress appropriated on April 28, 1904, and available until June 30, 1905, $60,000, with a proviso that it should be used for analyzing and testing coals and lignites of the United States, to determine the most economical method for their utilization, but stipulating that all the testing ma