Saturday, November 17, 2007

Where are all the engineers?

Once again, Bill Gates, laments that the sky is about to fall over the national economy if we don't start churning out engineers soon. Yet, we've heard this for years and nothing is changing in the education system.

Here's a suggestion. How about a new post-graduate education program to educate non engineers into engineers. As it is now, if you graduated with a non-engineering degree you are locked out of any higher education for engineers. Why? Why can't engineering be more like med or law school that will look for aptitude and then train? Perhaps there could be a new engineering masters or doctorate degree that takes people with policy sci degrees; fast tracks them and reteaches them math and physics and engineering principles so that they can be engineers. You might not be able to do it in two years, but perhaps a three program? Perhaps, instead of lamenting that not enough people have chosen the established path to engineering jobs, we should blaze a new one?

Grey Drizzle

I a pretty bleak day here in Seattle, the sky is gray and the nice fine northwest drizzle is soaking the earth. A perfect day to be in the library, which is exactly where I am.

Finals are rapidly approaching and I'm trying to get a leg up on studying before Thanksgiving break as I have family coming and studying might take a back seat. This explains the lack of posting lately as well. I was two kids shy of making it into the top 10% of my class last year, and this year I've committed myself to doing a little better and edging my way up in class rank. As they say, "Good is the Enemy of Great" and I'm trying to prevent myself from settling, one of my worst character flaws. this translates into more hours with the books at less on the computer. So, if you like this blog, I apologize.

Anyway, not much has been going on. The only personal news of note was a conference I went to the other day on the Pakistani Constitutional crisis. It was essentially a panel discussion between a bunch of SU law professors; 2 constitutional scholars (1 of which is Indian) and one mid-east law expert; a Pakistani who is also a professor at Evergreen College; and a Pakistani Lawyer. The talk was informative and helped put the coup into perspective. There is nothing new about military coups like this, there have been 4 in Pakistan in the last 70 years, however, this is the first time a coup has ever been directed at the Judiciary. The crowd was pretty sparse, which prompted one of the professors to lament that it was too bad no one "gives a damn". Most of the crowd was professors and a few students.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Seattle University, oh, where's that?

Caution: this post tends to ramble more than others and I don’t have time to edit, you’ve been forewarned.

There was an article in the PI today about Seattle U's (SU) basketball team playing Kentucky today in an exhibition/celebration game for their national championship battle 50 years ago. The article dropped a few tidbits about Seattle U plans to move into Div I sport and a return to a more traditional collegiate atmosphere after an experiment at being a commuter campus in the 70-90s.

To be honest, I am not very connected to Seattle U. It is, merely, the school where my law school is located. I don't feel that connected to SU that I do to the U of Idaho, the campus isn't my home like Moscow's was, and I don't really know much about the school aside from the quadrant where the law school is. So, I decided to ponder SU a little more than I normally do and wonder what it is like to be an undergrad here.

As the article states, the school is moving back toward a traditional, residential campus. The campus itself, is truly urban. No other major institution in Seattle has a similar city feel. The U of Washington (UW) and Seattle Pacific University (SPU) are both "classified" as urban schools, but it isn't the same setting as SU. The UW sits on a sprawling, wooded campus on the shores of Lake Washington. While still in the city, UW's large and park-like setting make it quite possible for student to stay on campus and completely ignore the city if they chose to. Similarly, SPU, while technically within the city limits, sits in a quite neighborhood nestled between the Lake Union ship canal placid waters and the base of Queen Anne hill (quickly becoming one of Seattle poshest neighborhoods).

SU, however, is located in between First Hill (also know as Pill Hill for all the Hospitals or formely as Curse Hill) and Capitol Hill (home to Seattle oldest neighborhoods) and surround by the various Hospitals (which help explain the school stellar nursing program) that dominate the Eastern half of Seattle skyline. Yesterday, I went downtown for a haircut and it was a quick 10 minute walk to the heart of the Seattle business district and the base of the city's tallest skyscrapers. From here, I could walk ten more minutes to the shopping district or climb aboard a bus in the the city's ride free zone and move about the interior of the city with ease. It is impossible, from here, to not realize you are in one of America’s major cities.

For college freshmen, who live on campus, this must be an exciting place to be an 18 year old. At U of Idaho, a large campus in the middle of nowhere, the school is the city of Moscow. Everything in Moscow revolves around the school and it is impossible to ever leave the fact that you are a student, the you at University. Even if you leave campus the city still feels like an extension of campus, if you drive a few miles to Pullman you are still on another college campus (WSU). Thus, a student who leaves home to spend for four of five years in Moscow will have a brief respite from the rest of the world while they focus on their studies, the classmates, and the University. I don’t think that is the same experience here. A young student here basically lives in a beautiful garden in the middle of a city. A city, unlike Moscow, does not revolve around anyone institution but bustles with continuous activity. A student can simply take a step of the campus and forget their studies, their classes, and their university troubles.

I’m not sure which setting is better, I don’t really think that either is better, rather, they are different. Had I a second choice, I’m pretty sure I would choose another rural school but there are definite advantages for the urban setting.