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Letter from the Guest Editor: Engineering at the University of Florida: an opportunity to embrace the "second mile"

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Letter from the Guest Editor: Engineering at the University of Florida: an opportunity to embrace the "second mile"
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Linder, Angela S.
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UNIVERSITY of FLORIDA
Journal of
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Volume 6, Issue 2
November I December 2007

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Engineering at the University
of Florida: An Opportunity to
Embrace the "Second Mile"
By Dr. Angela S. Lindner, Associate Professor,
Environmental Engineering Sciences


Introduction
In 1941, Dr. William E. Wickenden, then President of the
Case School of Applied Science (Case Institute of
Technology), gave a speech, entitled "The Second Mile," to
the Engineering Institute of Canada. He entreated engineers
to commit to travel not only what he termed as "the first
mile," composed of our tasks and duties that ensure
our survival, but also "the second mile" of "voluntary
effort," where "people strive for special excellence, seek
self-expression more than material gain, and give
that unrequited margin of service to the common good
which alone can invest work with a wide and
enduring significance." Dr. Wickenden recognized the
essential bridging of technology and culture and the vital
role that engineers must play in ensuring a smooth
juncture between the two. Engineers, he said, must "know
the meaning of literary and art forms," while those in the
arts and humanities must understand the
"fundamental meanings of technology." One of the
most important cultural contributions of engineers,
Dr. Wickenden stated, is the interpretation of technology
in terms that all citizens may understand.

Today, the face of engineering is reflected in the
rapidly increasing changes and complexity of technology
that, in turn, is rapidly altering the habits of society. The
seven papers in this issue manifest these
dramatic advancements in the research areas of
aeroacoustics (Zawodny), robotics (Sultan),
thermoelectronics (Meyer), packing distinct patterns into
a permutation (Flynn), molecular dynamics simulations
of surface coatings (Fell et al.), aesthetic computing (Corey


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and Fishwick), and characterization of unique
materials (Burnette et al.). Little question exists whether
the young engineers who investigated these important
projects (and all engineers for that matter) entered into
their field of study to ease the burden of society, just as
poet Rudyard Kipling in his 1907 poem for engineers,
"The Sons of Martha," described as "simple service simply
given to his own kind in their common need." Advancements
in technology developed from engineering research such
as reported in these papers herein have indeed improved
the quality of life for targeted populations. After nearly
one hundred years past the Industrial Revolution, however,
we are now learning that concomitant with improved
living conditions afforded by technology are environmental
and social impacts not always anticipated during our
original designs. The increased globalization of engineering
has also revealed the "great need" for appropriate
technologies to bring clean drinking water, a constant supply
of food, and greater opportunities to those living in
developing communities throughout the world.

As a result of our technology explosion, the essence of
Dr. Wickenden's call for engineers to become full members
of society, by lending their expertise and voluntary service
for the common good, has never been more essential
than today. Engineering education is currently challenged
to prepare engineers to become equally proficient in the
core competencies, or "hard" skills, of their professions
(first-mile actions) and in the "soft" skills of
understanding, predicting, and broadly communicating
the social elements of their designs (second-mile
actions). Never before has engineering education received
a more clarion call to transformation than today, and
the College of Engineering at the University of Florida is
in prime position to answer this call.

Current Challenges of Engineers

The fabric of society and technology is coursing at such a
rapid pace that the education and practice
accompanying engineering is challenged to keep
tempo; however, engineering must keep tempo because
its survival is based on its immersion into society, as
Dr. Wickenden explained.Below is a list of selected social
and technological challenges that engineers of today and
the future will face. The social challenges are among
those predicted by Dr. David Orr, noted environmental
scientist and author, to fundamentally shape the world in
which we live (Orr, 2007). The technological challenges
are those outlined in a recent National Academy of
Engineering (NAE) report that established a need for reform
of the engineering education curriculum (NAE, 2006).





Social Challenges


Diminishing Connection to Nature. As an
associate professor in the Department of
Environmental Engineering Sciences at the University of
Florida, I have the privilege of mentoring students who seek
to combine their passions for engineering and the
environment. However, an alarming observation that I
have made in the past ten years is that even my students
who have a passion for the environment are
growing increasingly less connected to the environment, and
I can only surmise the disconnect that students of
other engineering disciplines must have with nature.
Author Richard Louv has coined the result of American
adults spending 95% of our time in houses, cars, malls,
and offices and children spending up to eight hours each
day watching television or playing video games and less
time outside as "nature deficit disorder" (Louv, 2005).
The symptoms of this disorder include devaluing our
waters, forests, air and sky, land, and animals, feeling
less "rooted" in our lives, and, ultimately, as Dr. Orr
predicts, falling into a spiritual crisis "for which there is
no precedent" (Orr, 2007). The engineer who designs her/
his technology in ignorance or complacency towards its
impact on the surrounding world fails to live up to even the
first promise in the Engineers' Creed established by
the National Society of Professional Engineers: "I dedicate
my professional knowledge and skill to the advancement
and betterment of human welfare" (NSPE, 2004).
Therefore, our charge in engineering education is to root
our students fully to our surrounding world by providing
them experiences that revel in nature and then to teach
them the environmental and health effects of
engineering designs so that they do no harm to
their surrounding world and inhabitants.

Human Population Growth and Widening Affluent-
Poor Gap. In 1941 when Dr. Wickenden gave his "Second
Mile" speech, the world population was 2.3 billion (U.S.
Census, 2007). Today, the population of this planet
has expanded to 6.5 billion and is predicted to explode
to nearly 8 billion by 2020 (CIA, 2001). The greatest
increase in the human count over the next twenty years will
be experienced in countries in Asia and Africa that do not
have the social, physical, and economic infrastructure of
the developed world, and most of these people,
predominantly poor, will live in urban areas (NAE, 2006).
The average age of the world's citizens is increasing, with
the ratio of working tax payers to nonworking
pensioners decreasing from 4-to-1 to 2-to-1 in the next
twenty years (NAE, 2006). In the United States, the




percentage of minority populations will expand, with
predictions that over half of the population of Americans will
be non-white by 2050 (NAE, 2006). In a nutshell, the bulk
of the world's population will live in urban areas that
will experience an increase in density, age, and poverty.
The population in the United States will mirror these
increases while also experiencing a change of
race demographics. In response to the increasing poverty in
the world, the focus of engineering is, therefore, challenged
to address solving "problems" of not only the affluent
minority but, more importantly, those of the poor majority.
In order to effectively design solutions to appropriately
address the problems of society, the face of engineering
must also reflect the diversity of the world.

Reluctance of Engineers to Communicate with
the General Public . Engineers by our very nature are
doers. Rudyard Kipling gave us the moniker, the "Sons
of Martha," because we are very much like Martha in
Luke (Chapter 10, verses 38-42) of the Bible, who, unlike
Mary, was worried about the welfare of her house
guests. Engineers believe that our "guests" are the citizens
of this world; however, we reluctantly interface with our
guests, feeling more comfortable working behind the
scenes designing, building, monitoring, and
remediating, perhaps communicating within our
small engineering teams, but not to the outer world. As
our technologies and choices of technologies grow
in complexity, the engineer's ability to communicate
the function, merits, and potential risks of these technologies
to the citizens of this world is imperative. A current example
of this need for engineering input is our vast array of
energy options, and engineers are in the best position
to competently explain how each alternative to crude oil
and coal can potentially impact the environment, public
health, and economy. In response to this challenge,
our educational system must prepare engineers to
effectively and truthfully influence policies and
decisions regarding technology options.

Technological Challenges

No Coherent Energy Policy. Dr. Orr (2007) claimed that
the United States has known for decades that, while crude
oil sources will not likely be depleted soon, an end of an era
of cheap oil will come, and we are currently living in that
era. Our procrastination in developing a coherent energy
policy has not only heightened risk of supply interruptions
and volatile energy prices, as Orr observed, but also has
forced engineers into a position to quickly react when
these energy calamities do occur. On a global basis, 1.6
billion people have no access to electricity at all (IEA,




2004). Engineering education must respond to the
short-sightedness of our governmental and industrial leaders
by preparing students to fully participate in
design, implementation, and broadcasting of technologies
that use more sustainable sources of energy than crude oil
and coal. All engineering disciplines hold a portion of the
truth as it relates to the best energy solutions, and they
must all work together, using life-cycle thinking, with
the economists, political scientists, etc. to uncover the
whole truth and to ensure energy stability in the United
States and throughout the world.


Decay of the Environment and Depletion of
Natural Resources. The world's consciousness of the
impact of human activity on the environment has been
raised by recent increased media coverage of global
climate change. In 1941, when Dr. Wickenden gave
his "Second Mile" speech, the concentration of C02 in
the atmosphere was about 325 parts per million. By 2005,
the concentration of C02 had increased to approximately
375 parts per million by volume, and the level of heat-
trapping gases produced by human activities was 430 CO-
2 equivalents, resulting in not only a warming of our planet
but also its destabilization (Neftel et al., 2004; Keeling et
al., 2005). However, many less actively
discussed environmental issues have the risk to cause
as significant or even more significant damage to our
planet and its residents, and engineers will play just as critical
a role in solving these issues as they will in climate change.

A recent United Nations report predicted that within the
next twenty years, every nation in the world will grapple
with some kind of water supply issue (UN, 2003; NAE,
2006). Nearly one billion people in this world have
been estimated to not have consistent access to clean
drinking water.Two billion people live in conditions of
water scarcity. Four billion cases of diarrhea are reported
each year, with up to five million deaths believed to be a
result of diarrheal diseases. Approximately six million
active cases of blindness have been estimated each
year because of absence of nearby sources of safe water
for washing (WHO/UNICEF, 2000; Gleick, 2002; World
Bank, 2004; Lantagne, 2005; Lindner et al., 2006). Nearly
2.2 million children less than five years old die needlessly
each year, many as a result of diarrheal disease
and dehydration caused by contaminated drinking water.
Three million newborns die needlessly each year because
their mothers did not have access to transportation to a
health clinic (or their community lacked a health
clinic altogether) (The Lancet, 2005).




Toxic and hazardous chemicals continue to be released into
the surrounding environment. In 2002, the Toxic
Release Inventory estimated that over twenty-six billion
pounds of production-related waste were legally released
by industry to the air, water, land, and by
underground injection in the United States (Scorecard,
2007). Many of these chemicals are classified as toxic
and hazardous, having high risk of causing serious
health effects on humans. As our population explodes so too
do the quantities of solid waste in need of safe disposal and
the amount of pharmaceuticals and personal health
care products that are released into the
surrounding environment. However, decreased availability
of land for landfill storage and heightened concern
of subsequent environmental impacts of incineration of
waste have prompted engineers for improved designs
of disposal and treatment technologies and
biodegradable materials and more efficient recycling and
reuse infrastructures.

The vast quantities of greenhouse gases and toxic
chemicals released into our surrounding world and the
scarcity of clean water pose tremendous challenge to
engineers today and into the future. Compounding this
problem is the severe politicization of the environment,
despite all attempts by the Nixon administration to ensure
that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not become
a political arm of the government (Quarles, 1976).
Engineering education's call to respond to the
environmental problems often caused by the very hand of
poor engineering design is an infiltration of
sustainable engineering approaches into every
engineering discipline.

Deterioration of Physical Infrastructures. On
Wednesday, August 1, 2007, the United States
was dramatically made aware of its deteriorating
backbone. Minneapolis' I-35W bridge, overburdened
by thousands of commuters twice daily since its
construction forty years ago, lost its strength to span
and collapsed into the Mississippi River, taking with it
thirteen people who died and over one hundred who
were injured (Grose, 2007). Two years ago, the
American Society of Civil Engineers published a report on
the state of America's transportation, school, water,
energy, and waste infrastructures, and the overall
grade assigned to these systems was a "D" (ASCE, 2005;
NAE, 2006). As Grose (2007) describes, the primary culprit
of this aging of our nation's backbone is lack of funding and
a poor allocation of what little funding is provided.
Again, engineers are called to influence politicians to
allocate more dollars smartly towards new




technologies, increased inspections, better prediction, and
wiser decision-making, all categories in which engineers
will provide major contribution.

Vulnerabilities in the Information and
Communication Infrastructure. The NAE reported
that malicious attacks on our information technology
systems (e.g., computer viruses), system overloads (e.
g., disruption of cellular phone service after the September
11 attacks), and natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane
Katrina's impact on the electricity grid) are symptoms of
the instability in our information and
communications infrastructure (NAE, 2006). Strategies must
be developed in order to enable the infrastructure to keep
pace with the rapid advances in information and
communication technology, and engineers must be present
and active in every stage in the life cycle of these
technologies, including operation, expansion, upgrading,
and reduction of vulnerabilities (NAE, 2006). Students
of engineering must be prepared to understand the
legal, regulatory, economic, business, and social
aspects entrained in these problems.

Technology for an Aging Population. The average length
of life of Americans is pushing eighty years, and these
older citizens anticipate healthy, productive living
beyond retirement. Age-related technology needs have
been identified in the areas of supporting independent
lifestyles while alleviating burdens on care
providers, operational technologies to aid service providers
in reduction of labor costs and prevention of medical
errors, connective technologies to aid the elderly
to communicate with caregivers and families, and
telemedicine to provide services to patients in remote
locations (NAE, 2006). Engineering education should,
therefore, increase the awareness of students to the
elderly condition and corresponding technological needs.

Necessity of Developing Attributes beyond
Strong Analytical Skills. In response to the challenges
that face engineers, the National Academy of
Engineering (2006) has established five guiding principles
that will shape engineering activities in 2020 and beyond,
and they are as follows:

. The pace of technological innovation will continue to be rapid.

. The world in which technology will be deployed will be
intensely globally interconnected.

. The population of individuals who are involved with or
affected by technology will be increasingly diverse
and multidisciplinary.




. Social, cultural, political, and economic forces will continue
to shape and affect the success of technological innovation.

. The presence of technology in our everyday lives will
be seamless, transparent, and more significant than ever.

Engineering education is called to radically reform
in recognition that the role of engineer has changed
from development of technology for society to participation
in the "societal process through which technology
shapes society" (Kastenberg et al., 2006). Thus, the
engineer of today and the future must be equipped not
only with the core competencies of their individual
fields, including strong analytical skills, but also with other,
up-to-now less valued characteristics. These
additional characteristics are briefly described below.

Effective Oral and Written Communication Skills

Expectations of good communication from engineers
have always existed. In the future, however, the
various stakeholders with whom engineers will interact
will become increasingly multidisciplinary and diverse as
a direct result of the increased complexity and global nature
of technology. Engineers will also be held to
increased accountability and will need to shape policy
and attitudes of the public towards specific technologies. As
a result, competitive American engineers will require a
good oral, visual, and written command of their native
tongue and will benefit from having working competency
of other languages.

Sensitivity to Other Cultures

Understanding the behaviors or beliefs of a target
population for technologies has been recognized as
essential since the early 20th century when modern
advertising was born (Levy, 2007).However, as the need
for engineering in the developing world becomes
increasingly exposed, the engineer who is successful in
solving developing world problems must take into account
the differences in cultures that exist throughout the
world. Design for the developing world must consider
the unique behaviors and beliefs of the citizens in the
target communities. In fact, Engineers Without Borders-
USA requires that the engineering teams include citizen input
at the design level (EWB-USA, 2007). Many universities
are responding to this need for heightened sensitivity
of engineers to different cultures by offering
engineering courses on "appropriate" technologies
(Amadei, 2007).

Awareness of the Environmental and Social Impacts




of Engineered Systems


While a debate currently exists over whether
sustainable engineering should be a "stand-alone" discipline
or a part of every engineering discipline, no doubt exists
that every engineering student should be exposed to
the surrounding natural world in order to appreciate
the environmental and social impacts of technologies.
The increased introduction of green, or sustainable,
engineering into the university engineering curriculum has
been observed in the past ten years. The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has established
nine principles of green engineering design (U.S. EPA,
2007), and Anastas and Zimmerman (2003) reported
twelve principles of green engineering for the ultimate goal
of sustainability of designed processes at the
molecular, product, process, and system levels. All
engineering design courses should incorporate these
principles in some fashion.

Strong Leadership Abilities, Ethical Standards,
and Professionalism

As our society increases its technological character,
engineers will be placed in a unique position of
understanding the strengths, limitations, and long-term
impacts of technology on society. With this
understanding, engineers will have opportunities to be
leaders in industry, government, and non-government
sectors. A good leader must understand the importance
of professionalism, must possess integrity, must
work interdependently on multidisciplinary teams, must be
able to adapt to the rapid changes in technology and
society, must be courageous in making decisions that are
not always evident, and must recognize the broader context
of their problems (NAE, 2006).

Awareness of the Need for Lifelong Learning

Knowledge in engineering and science is said to double
every 10 years (NAE, 2006). Teaching a student everything
s/he needs to know during the 4-5 years of her/
his undergraduate education is not possible. The student
must believe that s/he needs to take responsibility of her/
his life-long development by continued learning in her or
his field but also in other areas, including history,
politics, business, languages, etc.

UF's Response to Engineering's Rapidly
Changing Face

Summarizing the essential attributes of the engineer of
2020, the NAE report (2006) concludes, "He or she will
aspire to have the ingenuity of Lillian Gilbreth, the




problem-solving capabilities of Gordon Moore, the
scientific insight of Albert Einstein, the creativity of
Pablo Picasso, the determination of the Wright brothers,
the leadership abilities of Bill Gates, the conscience of
Eleanor Roosevelt, the vision of Martin Luther King Jr., and
the curiosity and wonder of our grandchildren." How
equipped is UF in preparing its current engineers to
embody such necessary qualities? Below is a brief report of
the selected activities at UF that are effectively preparing
our students for the future and a discussion of new
approaches that will further hone our graduates
as distinguished from those of other universities.

Problem-Solving

The ability to solve problems is the root of the
engineering discipline, and this ability squarely falls
into Wickenden's "first mile" activities. The College
of Engineering at UF has twelve degree programs that
are accredited through the Accreditation Board for
Engineering and Technology (ABET). The College is
replete with faculty who are willing to devote time to
ensure quality teaching of our undergraduate
student population. Continued support of these faculty
and encouragement of all faculty to partake in such activities
is essential to ensure that every student who graduates has
the basic analytical skills necessary for each discipline.

One example of a successful mechanism for combining
theory with experiential projects is the Integrated Product
and Process Design (IPPD) Program (IPPD, 2007).
Students gain not only experience in problem-solving, but
they also learn to effectively work in teams and apply
their skills to "real-world" problems while interacting
with practicing engineers. In reality, the IPPD Program
is limited to a small number of students in the College
of Engineering. However, because of its success in
preparing students to function in the industrial
environment, the College should discover new ways to
translate this experience on a broader scale to more of
its student population.

Scientific Insight, Ingenuity, Creativity, and Curiosity

Research experiences for the undergraduate student
have proved to be a valuable tool in provoking ingenuity
and creativity. Practical benefits of undergraduate
research programs include promotion of faculty research
and recruitment of these students for graduate-level study.
The University Scholars Program (USP) at UF provides
an excellent model for undergraduate research. More
research programs such as the USP should be opened
for increased student participation, even if at a more





limited scale, to ensure capture of creative students who
are not motivated by the structure of the classroom. In
fact, focusing research towards those bright students
with lower grade point averages may very well lead
to increased motivation in the classroom as they begin
to envision a future in engineering discovery.

UF's library system provides an excellent vehicle to feed
the scientific insight, ingenuity, and curiosity of our faculty
and students. As the amount of information available on
the internet continues to explode, students today possess
a waning appreciation of the physical library structure and
are not equipped to handle the vast array of
scientific information available to them at their fingertips.
Our library system is staffed with extremely
talented specialists, and the College would be best served
to design specific training programs for engineering
students (and faculty) in using the physical and
virtual resources available. Faculty should be encouraged
to include library search activities in their courses. For
example, faculty could require all students to schedule
an appointment with a librarian to search a particular topic
or invite a librarian as a guest lecturer to speak to the
students about searching for information and discerning
good and bad information.

Ingenuity and creativity in design is severely hindered by a
lack of diversity within the engineering discipline. The
College of Engineering at UF ranked first among public
and private institutions (excluding minority-serving
institutions) in the number of B.S. degrees awarded
to Hispanics, ninth in the number of B.S. degrees awarded
to African-Americans, and second and third places in
the number of Ph.D. degrees granted to Hispanics and
African-Americans, respectively (Dean's Advisory
Board Meeting, 2007). Despite these advances, the
student population and faculty remain relatively
homogeneous. Stronger support of existing programs
and introduction of new programs to increase and retain
female and African-, Hispanic-, and Native-American
students must be encouraged within each department, and
all faculty should be encouraged and expected to
actively support activities that promote diversity in
the classrooms and the hallways on campus. A
greater presence of faculty mentoring of these students
should be encouraged, and increased communication of
the effectiveness of existing multicultural and
diversity programs should be broadcast to faculty. In
addition, an increased presence of faculty in the K-
12 classroom, such as that offered by the SPICE
Program (SPICE, 2007), is essential as a means to plant




the seed of engineering early on in students' minds and hearts.

Joseph Wood Krutch, one of America's most
distinguished literary naturalists, is quoted as saying, "The
rare moment is not the moment when there is something
worth looking at, but the moment when we are capable
of seeing." The ability to "see" in this sense often requires
time for reflection, contemplation, and deep study.
However, time is a commodity that is increasingly less
available in our "more-faster-better" culture, and the
university is not immune to this acceleration of pace
(Levy, 2007). Administrators multi-task. Faculty multi-task.
As a result, students multi-task. Multi-tasking is
accompanied by a great risk of stifling deep thought and
study, from which our greatest discoveries were born.
Nobel-prize winner, Barbara McClintock, claimed that
her discovery of the mysteries of genetics was possible only
by taking the time to look and to hear what the material had
to say to her (Keller, 1983; Levy, 2007).

By losing our allegiance to the original mission of
contemplative inquiry established by the ancestors of
today's university, Plato's school and medieval
universities, today's universities are threatened to
become training institutes, rather than places of higher
learning that serve as the cradle of curiosity, ingenuity,
and creativity. In response to this decline in reflection
and contemplation in academia, UF should foster
greater contemplative practice among its faculty and in
the classrooms. Slowing our pace in order to think deeply,
not focusing solely on numbers, keeping ever sharply
focused on education through transformation, the most
noble mission of the university, should serve as primary
goals of those of us within the university.

Conscience

Strong leadership and ethics are inseparable. While the
College must fulfill the ABET outcome of awareness of
ethical and professional responsibility, focused
leadership development is not prevalent. Students
must understand that the most effective leaders are those
who listen, recognize and value the gifts of their
colleagues, foster a strong sense of community,
communicate their gratitude often, and persevere
through adversity with their strong values intact.
Providing leadership workshops that convey these values
to students in order for them to hone their skills in this area
is essential in their preparation.

As UF has made an increased commitment to
sustainability through its Office of Sustainability
(UF Sustainability, 2007), introducing environmental and





social impacts of designs into every engineering
design classroom is of utmost importance. Courses focusing
on green, or sustainable, engineering design in
each engineering discipline should be developed, following
the model provided by the Departments of
Environmental Engineering Sciences and Materials Science
and Engineering. The College of Engineering has co-
sponsored two faculty development workshops in
Green Engineering (Delaney and Lindner, 2007),
and participation in such workshops should be
encouraged. Student participants in all engineering-
and science-related research activity on campus, including
the USP, should be encouraged to address potential
negative environmental and social interactions of their
project focus. Graduate student dissertations focusing on
new engineering designs, for example, should also
include discussion on potential environmental and
social impacts of these new technologies. Additionally,
the College could organize and encourage guided tours of
our area's forests, waters, and land as one means of
connecting new and existing faculty, staff, and students to
the natural world that surrounds us in Gainesville.

Vision

The face of engineering in the future will more directly
reflect the globalization of our culture. Providing
an international experience for our students is an
effective method of not only preparing our students
to transverse country boundaries but also to
heighten sensitivity to other cultures. With strong
collaboration from UF's International Center, the College
of Engineering at UF currently sponsors exchange
programs with eighteen universities, centers, and
boards throughout the world, and 52% of its student
population is international. Engineers Without Borders-UF
(EWB-UF, 2007) was formed in 2005, and it currently
boasts approximately 75 active student members who
are pursuing projects in Macedonia, Cambodia, New
Orleans, and in the surrounding Gainesville
community. Increasing the international
experiential opportunity for students in the College hinges
on making up-to-date, detailed information readily available
via the internet and other forms of advertising to any
student seeking such experiences.

Engineers must be able to effectively communicate their
vision. In light of increasing pressures to include more
technical content in the engineering curriculum,
writing requirements have diminished, often to only
one, semester-long technical writing course. As more
pressure is placed on faculty to pursue research-




related activities, faculty often respond by decreasing
the writing requirements of their courses in order to lower
time requirements for grading. Also, grading
responsibilities often are assumed by engineering
graduate students who are not likely to have extensive
writing experience or expertise themselves. Students
often complain that the curriculum contains a gap with
no writing requirements between their general
education courses, in which they must write a specific
number of words, and their engineering courses. A
common response of students to their first technical
report assignment is one of anxiety because they do not
feel prepared to tackle this format.

Methods must be adopted to provide increased
writing experiences for students as they approach
their engineering courses. Collaboration with the Department
of English to develop a College-wide writing program for
its students and encouraging faculty to grade reports not
only for technical content but also for writing quality
are positive approaches to ensure that Gator engineers
are good written communicators.

Determination

All engineering students must be determined to continue
the habit of learning and inquiry throughout the rest of
their careers. Students report that one of the most
effective ways to encourage the value of learning is
through summer internships in the public and private sectors.
In these positions, they realize that in order to be
competitive they must take initiative to learn how to use
new software packages and become familiar with
professional practices such as bidding and procurement that
are not often heavily emphasized in the engineering
curriculum. In this time of budget uncertainty, the
College should be a model of determination for its students
and faculty, ensuring that the effort to unceasingly improve
the quality of undergraduate education not be compromised.

Conclusions

William Wickenden was indeed a prophet in his
acclamation that engineers must strive through that
"second mile" of actions in service to society. As the field
of engineering rapidly transitions from designing
and introducing technologies at a distance from society to
doing so as full participants in our increasingly global
society, the UF College of Engineering is poised to take
great strides in preparing Gator engineers fully for this
future. "Great minds, unencumbered by a feeling for
humanity, so often seem uselessly brilliant-and
ultimately irrelevant," stated Dr. Timothy Sullivan,




former president of the College of William and Mary
(Sullivan, 2002). Engineers in the College of Engineering at
UF are documented to be among the nation's most talented
and brilliant. The question that remains is not whether they
are capable of leading engineering through its transition into
a fully global focus where technology and culture
are inextricably bound but, rather, whether the College will
lead them in this direction-towards the "second mile."

References


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