The new book, A Whole New Engineer, written by Olin College faculty Mark Somerville and Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois David Goldberg and founder of Big Beacon, describes how the current engineering educational system is broken.
Less than five percent of U.S. undergraduates choose engineering as a degree, and more than 50 percent will leave the major before graduating – despite the lure of higher salaries and jobs. Women and minorities are woefully underrepresented at most engineering schools across the country and the blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry lectures doesn’t inspire students who, as natural makers, would rather be building things. As a result, we are not graduating enough or the right kind of engineer innovators needed to solve the complex challenges of the world, from energy production to cyber security.
The book explains how trust is key to unleashing young, courageous engineers; how engineers need to move from a narrow technical education to one that actively engages what Somerville and Goldberg call the “six minds”; how emotion and culture–not content, curriculum & pedagogy–are the crucial elements of change; and how all stakeholders can collaborate to disrupt the status quo.
The book, A Whole New Engineer, begins with a look at Olin’s namesake. It presents a historical perspective about the challenges faced in changing engineering education by the Olin Foundation and the evolution of the daring decision to go out of business as a foundation to help promote change by founding a new college. The book describes the hiring of the first leaders and faculty, and how one of the crucial elements of Olin's founding was an accident of the construction schedule.
A Whole New Engineer (WNE) Quick Overview
- One book. WNE tells the unlikely story of an unlikely collaboration with a surprising conclusion (Introduction)--that culture and emotional change are the key variables for successful educational change, not content, curriculum, or pedagogy.
- Two schools. WNE tells the story of the founding of Olin College (chapter 1) and the iFoundry incubator at the University of Illinois (chapter 2), and the lessons about 21st education they learned together.
- Three missed revolutions. WNE gives an historical review (chapter 3) going back to the 19th century, and the 3 missed (missed in universities) revolutions since WW2, the entrepreneurial, quality, and information technology revolutions.
- Four technologies of trust. WNE surveys important theories and practices surrounding 4 technologies of trust: intrinsic motivation (chapter 6), executive and leadership coaching (chapter 7), organizational culture (chapter 8), and change management (chapter 9).
- Five pillars of transformation. WNE surveys (chapter 5) the cultural-emotional pillars of change: joy, trust, courage, openness, and connection.
- Six minds of the whole new engineer. WNE goes beyond the narrow technical framing of engineering education to invoke six minds (chapter 4): analytical, design, people, linguistic, body, and mindful minds.
- Collaborative disruption. WNE calls (Epilogue) for the formation of a social movement called Big Beacon to promote open innovation for engineering educational transformation, leading to collaborative disruption of the status quo.