The other day I was reading through a recent NYT article about why science and engineering students have trouble making it through classes (and subsequently, why the count of engineers in the US is low). While I was dismayed at the general fallout of students, when compared to the incoming numbers, I was encouraged by some of the programs the article highlighted. In particular, Notre Dame Engineering seems to be taking up an idea I laid out a few months ago, namely remedial tinkering classes; this would give the students the context they need in order to help them make a decision about continuing engineering school.
In the course of re-reading my article, I noticed a comment thread between me and Fluxor about the inspiration we have for engineering in the first place. How does our play influence what we might want to do in our careers? Which engineers seem to congregate around particular toys? I have noticed it while swapping stories with my engineering friends and wanted to check with the readers of Engineer Blogs as well.
I was also interested because I’ve seen a resurgence of interest in Legos recently. Perhaps it’s never gone away, I can’t say for sure. However, I’ve seen lots more focus recently, especially with the interest in molded and printed plastics becuse the ideass eem to suit custimized legos quite well. I’ve also noticed a recently published book called The Cult of Lego. All of these things have called my attention back to the toys of my youth.
Over time, we’ve seen more and more toys that are available to inspire future tinkerers and scientists, and yet less uptake in the field. Perhaps this is a phenomenon of availability or more endemic of the timese we live in. However, it’s not all sour news; I’m encouraged by the toys and tools available today and I hope that some day we’ll see children listing Arduinos and drawdio kits and other electronics as the primary motivators as their inspiration.
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