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the manner in which the real essential dignity of the engineer's profession had been presented, and the importance of coming to some common agreement as to the ideals, purposes, and methods of instruction on the part of those engaged in the education of engi
In that connection he wished to call attention to one phase of the subject that had not been as yet suggested, and that was the advisability of coming to some agreement as to the conditions on which engineering degrees should be conferred. He had one suggestion to make in that connection. It had been generally recognized that a technical school could not graduate engineers—that they simply graduate men who are prepared to become engineers. Now, if students are given professional degrees on graduation, it is evident that they must become engineers at the expense of their employers. It seemed to him that it was a mistake to grant such degrees, and it lowers the dignity of the title.
THE CHAIRMAN remarked that this subject was down for discussion on Friday morning.
PROFESSOR CHRISTY continued his remarks and spoke of the lecture system. It seemed to him that Prof. Swain was generally and entirely right as to what is usually given in the way of lecture instruction, but it is not, it seemed to him, essentially a bad system. He recalled to mind instruction that he received in hydraulics, which was chiefly by the lecture system. He could not imagine a better system, in the hands of the man who managed it. He knew that he went to the lecture room with no notes and lectured for two hours and held the whole class intensely interested even to fascination. He did not give a studied lecture; he had the whole matter entirely in his mind. He would call first on one man and then on another in the class, beginning at a fundamental principle that they all agreed on to develop the subject matter; he reviewed it as they talked it over, and would illustrate it as they went along, and in that way it was the most efficient instruction he had ever seen and entirely on a mathematical subject.
He wished also to say that he heartily agreed with the points made by Prof. Goodman on the question of examinations. It had been originally suggested to him by Dr. Becker of the geological survey, and was essentially this: The students are allowed to bring to the examination any books they choose, and they have the whole day to answer the papers, and it is astonishing what the effect is upon the students and examiner. If the students are allowed to bring books of reference, it forces the examiner to confine his questions to such as are not found in books of reference, and he knew of students taking examinations of this sort the first time, when they came into the room with a whole armful of books and were very much surprised to find that they did not help them.
Another point that was of great interest to all was the point brought out by Prof. Burr, viz: "The General Culture of the Engineer.” He thought all would admit that this should be an essential part of an engineer's education, but it is one of the most difficult things to right in our American technical schools. It seemed almost impossible to require a general college education as a prerequisite for the engineering school; under American conditions it seemed practically impossible. He would like to have some general expression as to what should be the minimum requirement to enter an engineering school; also what amount of technical instruction should be put in the under-graduate course. It seemed to him that a more definite statement was
PROFESSOR C. FRANK ALLEN had something to say that perhaps nobody else could say quite so well. When he returned to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about six years ago to teach, he found teaching there a professor who, on a mathematical subject, stood before his class with chalk in hand, without notes, and was able to hold the attention of his class without any difficulty whatever for two hours. About five years ago, he was told by that professor that he thought that was the proper way to teach that subject, in preference to teaching it from text-books or from printed notes. That professor was Professor Swain, who now tells you freely that the lecture system for that purpose is not the system, but that teaching from the text-books, with such supplementary lectures as
necessary, is the better way. Professor Swain tells you now that, in his opinion, this is the proper method of teaching.
PROFESSOR DEVolson Wood said, since we have two feet, what is the use of compelling ourselves to walk on one? It is not necessary, as he understood it, to con
fine ourselves to lectures to the exclusion of the text, nor to the text to the exclusion of the lectures. Much may be left to the disposition, experience and surroundings of the professor. For his own part, if he should exclude one or the other, and walk only on one foot, he would exclude the lectures and use the text, but he treated neither himself nor his students in that way. The text formed the core, the nucleus, the thing that he stood by when he had nothing else to say, and when he had something else to say, he said it. The question, therefore, with regard to the abstract part, need not be discussed by itself. There was no danger, he thought, of having too much mathematics in any of our courses. It was a question with many whether the calculus was of any practical use to the engineer. Many said that it might better be eliminated. He had met practical engineers who deprecated their using so much calculus in the colleges—said they had never used it. The speaker thought there was no danger of having too much mathematics.
In regard to laboratory practice, he thought much good, sound sentiment had been expresssed, and in connection with that he would just hint that in the use of apparatus there may be too much stress laid upon it. The fixed and universal should never be sacrificed for a knowledge of particular methods and devices which may soon be superseded.
If we were to teach only what has perpetual existence we would teach principles, for principles never grow old. If Rankine's books are forty years old, the principles are there. We possibly might have better text books for our use to-day to present those principles, but we must establish in ourselves the principles. A man who studied in the schools and went out to practice, had said to him with a good deal of earnestness, “If the schools don't teach something that you cannot get in the shop, there is no use of them.” He thought the position was well taken, and that is one of the reasons why we may teach ideals, and principles, and theory, beyond what may seem to be realized.
One of the modern practical subjects, that of electricity, was referred to very strongly by Prof. Burr, who showed that there is a seeking after scientific men. There was no department of engineering that employed constantly more trained engineers and who depend upon them more than that of electricity, one of the latest applications of scientific principles, and the demand comes at a time when the men can be secured to carry
The speaker thought we came far short in some of these things of attaining the height to which we should aim in our institutions.
One subject had struck him with a great deal of force, and he wished to add his testimony in regard to it and that was in regard to examinations. He was not aware so many did as he was doing. In all subjects where it could be done, he allowed the students to bring in their text books, and then he assigned questions that were not answered in the text books, thus throwing them upon their own resources. He also took little or no account of errors in arithmetic or algebra, but if they erred on one principle, they were conditioned, they could not pass, and would have to