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not necessarily) to prevail in schools where there are no laboratories, or where laboratory work has not been introduced to any great extent.
Let us turn our attention for a few moments to a consideration of the fact that the development that has taken place in our engineering schools during the last twenty years has been phenomenal. Whereas a variety of influences have contributed to bring this about, all tending to put the schools more and more in touch with the industrial work of the world; nevertheless, one of the most powerful and effective agencies has been the introduction of laboratory work, and especially of engineering laboratory work, into the courses. It has been the practice of the schools, for a great many years, to require students who are fitting themselves to become chemists, to perform chemical laboratory work with their own hands. The developments of later years have also proved beyond question that both laboratory practice and field work are essential to
any proper study of the various branches of the natural sciences, and both are now very generally required of students of these subjects. Physical laboratory practice, performed by the students themselves, was first introduced about twentyfive years ago.
To perform experimental work with accuracy and thoroughness, to observe, note and collate the facts as they occur, to make measurements with the proper degree of precision, and to understand and to be able to determine the limits within which the conclusions can be assumed to be correct, has proved to be one of the most efficient means of training the student. But now there has arisen, in addition to the above, another most important development in the line of teaching students of engineering to perform the work with their own hands, to observe, to experiment, and to investigate, and that consists in the establishment of engineering laboratories in the various schools. Thus we find a variety of these laboratories: as laboratories for testing the strength of materials, steam laboratories, hydraulic laboratories, electrical engineering laboratories, mining engineering laboratories, chemical engineering laboratories, etc.
*We know of a school in this country where it was done thirty-five years ago.-EDS.
Engineering laboratories as a factor in the course of instruction were proposed by Professor William B. Rogers, about 1861, and a steam engineering laboratory was established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1874, and placed under the direction of Professor Channing Whitaker; this one, so far as the writer is aware, being the first laboratory of the kind ever established. Then, one year later, Prof. A. B. W. Kennedy made address in which he advocated the establishment of such a laboratory at University College, London, but did not succeed in establishing it until 1878. The idea has been very slow to permeate the English and the European schools, but our American schools have been rapidly adopting it.
These laboratories have exerted a far greater influence than any other agency upon our engineering courses; by bringing them in touch with the live prob
lems of the day, and by furnishing to the theoretical portion of the instruction an ever wider basis of experimentally ascertained facts upon which to build. The direct objects to be accomplished by these laboratories
first, to give
the students practice in such experimental work as engineers, in the pursuit of their profession,
are called upon to perform; second, to afford
some experience in carrying on original investigations in engineering subjects, with such care and accuracy as to render the results of real value to the engineering community; third, another important function of such laboratories, which is entirely consistent with the other two, is that of taking up and carrying out systematic investigations of engineering problems. This can be done in a laboratory, whereas it is only with great difficulty that it can be done in a shop, or in a manufacturing establishment.
By publishing these results from time to time, the laboratories will serve to add gradually to the common stock of knowledge.
Of course, as a rule, it would not be suitable to expect the student to originate and carry out research without aid from his teachers, but when the necessary aid is given, and the necessary supervision exercised, a considerable amount of research can be accomplished in these laboratories.
First. The regular laboratory experiments can be so arranged by the instructor that they shall form an element in an investigation, the students taking the observations, and working up the results, the necessary amount of checking being done, and the necessary supervision being exercised to insure correct results.
Second. Original researches can be carried on in the laboratory in connection with the graduating theses. In this case it is necessary for the teacher to exercise the requisite supervision, and to furnish all the aid needed, but the student is made to look upon the problem as his own, and is taught how to carry on original investigations.
While the laboratory is the most fruitful source of original research, and has served to render it easier to require that the theses shall be of this character, and hence while most of the theses which involve investigation involve also laboratory work, nevertheless it is true that there are other lines of research possible; but the laboratories have given a greater impetus than anything else to this class of work.
CHARACTER OF GRADUATING THESES.
Having thus noted the special facilities afforded by the laboratories for theses involving original research, let us turn to a consideration of the proper characteristics of a graduating thesis. We began by laying down the principle that it should be planned solely upon the basis of the purposes it will serve in the instruction of the student. Arguing from this as our standpoint, it would seem that much the most suitable characteristic of a thesis is that it involve an element of research. A thesis, where this is the case, teaches the student in a much more effective manner how to carry on investigation than can be done in any other portion of the course of instruction, whether lecture room or laboratory work. All teachers of engineering are aware that it is very difficult to make a student feel that responsibility and self-reliance in his work which a practicing engineer must feel. The more the student can be taught to feel this responsibility, the more he can be made to take hold of any piece of work as though it depended upon him to find out how to do it (provided the teacher exercises such a degree of supervision that the work is properly done), and the greater will be his success in the work of the school, and the better will he be prepared to meet the problems of life. The gratuating thesis affords a far better opportunity than anything else to accomplish this result, if it is properly chosen and managed, and the one that accomplishes this the most efficiently, is one that involves original investigation.
Hence, it seems to the writer that we should be perfectly justified in insisting that every thesis undertaken by a student shall contain an element of investigation, and that by so doing we are not only teaching him how to carry on research, a matter of the greatest importance for his professional success, but that we are also helping him to look at all his work through a man's, and not a boy's eyes; this matter being furthered by constant consultation with his teacher. If any exceptions were to be allowed to this rule, they should be very rare, indeed, and we ought to be very sure that the student's professional and scientific education will be decidedly advanced by work upon the subject chosen, and that it will be conducive