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sends the student off to look up the literature, and to think over and propose some plan of action. We will
that it is an experimental investigation that the student has before him. When he comes next and reports the results of his reading, and proposes his general plan, the teacher criticises it approving or disapproving according to circumstances, and suggesting further steps to be taken.
A course of a similar nature should be followed in the case of a design, or of any other thesis involving investigation, which, as has been said, all theses should involve. It will be plain that such a method of procedure is just what is needed to have the proper effect on the progress of the student, and it is also the course needed to secure thorough and reliable work on the theses.
By this method, however, it is plain that almost always the greater part of the ideas proceed from the teacher, although he tries to make the student originate all he can; and this is as it should be, and it is this fact that enables the schools to accomplish valuable work in connection with the theses, while accomplishing the best possible results as regards the instruction of the students.
The thesis is, therefore, really executed by the teacher and the student together, and the teacher's part in it is almost always the greater. None of the thesis work of any school should be published, therefore, unless the teacher believes in its value and correctness sufficiently to publish it with his own name attached, as that is a guaranty of its being done with such thoroughness as he is willing to endorse.
Any thesis work to which the teacher does not attach his name, if published, comes to us as the work of raw and inexperienced hands, and hence we have no surety that we can rely upon the results of the work. Hence the rule is an all important one in the case of any school that wishes to maintain the reputation of doing reliable work, that the theses are the property of the school, and that the student has no ownership in his thesis, and hence has no more right to publish it himself than he has to appropriate to himself another man's property.
If this rule is strictly adhered to, as it should be, the reliability of the published thesis work of our schools is tantamount with the reliability of the work of the teacher who took part in it and published it. Of course it is right and proper that the teacher in publishing should mention the student or students who wrote the thesis, either by stating what they did in the body of the paper, or, better, by coupling their names with his own in the authorship. Sometimes it may be desirable to have the paper rewritten, to render the wording, language and emphasis suitable for publication.
DISCUSSION. PROFESSOR J. B. JOHNSON wished to say that this paper offered one of the best evidences they could have of the necessity for and benefit likely to come from an organization of teachers such as had been effected that morning. In this organization just such papers could be prepared and read and they would lead to very profitable results. He felt himself greatly benefited by listening to this paper.
PROFESSOR Wm. S. ALDRICH had been greatly interested in listening to this paper. It seemed to him that subjects for a thesis divided themselves naturally into those which require some work of investigation and those which do not, and that the growing tendency is to adopt those subjects for theses which require some investigation. The review of some process or the historical developments of some branch of engineering is falling into disuse not because it is a survival of the ancient academic thesis, which is often claimed, but it is not the place for literary finish. He believed the tendency of the times is more toward original work in the graduating theses of students, the feeling being that the purely literary work should have been done earlier, and that we should discourage any lengthy review of a literary character. Outside of that, however, there are very interesting and valuable topics for theses which require no laboratory or shopwork, such as mathematical investigations—which are always in order and always in place, graphical work, geometrical work, and hundreds of others. It seemed to him that these were always in order, and could be classed as mathematical topics. Aside from these are subjects of design. The true design, it seemed to him, is a very good indication of the student's engineering ability up to a certain point. Of course it calls for a certain amount of ability and is simply one way of expressing that ability, but it seemed to him that the thesis design should be worked out in the shop and should not stop on paper. After the drawings are blue-printed, and all the students who have been interested have had copies of it, the student himself should go into the shop.
Furthermore, he thought it should more and more be insisted on that the student should limit himself entirely to an all-round treatment of one particular subject and not try to gaasp the whole field as he is very apt to try to do. The idea of getting all around a subject is a very good one for the student to realize before he leaves college, for sooner or later it comes up before him as a very important feature. As he cannot do everything in this world, cannot investigate everything, he should realize the wisdom of getting down to one particular line and one particular branch of that line of work. It seemed to him that the closing months of a technical course of study is a very fitting time in which to impress the student with these facts. He can only give a limited amount of time to his thesis work unless it is carried over into vacation, after engaging in practical work. That had been permitted in certain cases. A student may become connected with a certain firm where he can carry on his investigation while doing his other work and so complete his thesis after graduation. He closed by strongly indorsing the views expressed in the paper.
PROFESSOR RICKETTS thought that the title of the paper more properly should have been Graduading Theses for Mechanical Engineers. He agreed with him of course in his ideas of the general value of laboratory work, but in confining theses in the civil engineering course to those involving original investigations in a laboratory, he would take direct issue with him. He quoted from Prof. Swain's paper to the effect that after a man learned how to make a certain test, there was no advantage in his making a thousand tests. That was the tendency to a certain extent in the theses in which laboratory work is necessary. On the contrary, for the civil engineer—and he was refering to civil engineering schools only—he did not believe a young man could do better than to take a design of a system of water works for instance, or of a bridge, and carefully work it out himself or under the instruction of his professor. They should, however, be forced to do the work for themselves as much as possible. What we should try to do is to give a man a good all-round engineering education. Although he is not expected to immediately design work himself, he would then be prepared to do so in the course of a comparatively short time. Now that could be done. He knew of a school in which prizes were given for the best thesis. The theses are submitted to engineers of national reputation, and after examination of them, although they involved no laboratory work whatever, but were mostly designs of engineering structures, the judges had reported that they showed a high order of merit and careful training. In one case they had reported that the young man who wrote it would be capable of reporting on any water supply. This illustrated his point. He did not believe it was necessary for a man to take for the subject of his graduating thesis some