The engineering profession has been bitterly attacked by many technical college teachers (myself included) for the crude restrictive practices it maintains in engineering education. Most of the criticisms of CEI's new policy on admission to corporate membership policy have not sufficiently recognized that the profession has a real problem: its educational standards are much too low for British engineers to be competitive in the international industrial scene. The Ministry of Technology has for several years given strong backing to the move to close the door to HNC entry to full professional status because it believes strongly that engineers trained in this way would cut a poor figure in the European Community which generally admits to the status of engineer only graduates of university courses considerably longer than the standard 3‐year course of British universities. And after meeting a continental engineer who not only has a mature understanding of modern mathematics and physics, but also a reasonable knowledge of economics and fluency in two or three languages, one is compelled to admit that they have a point. I taught HNC engineers for many years and have no illusions about the academic standards or professional adequacy of these courses but I am not convinced that many university courses are substantially better. Students spend far too much time practising routines and writing those endless dull laboratory reports that can bear little relationship to work in industry. The sheer tedium of engineering courses make; students into dull engineers and worst than that it keeps many bright people out of engineering. At a recent students' meeting I heard arts and social science student: protesting that engineering students did not participate in activities outside the classroom, that they tolerated any treat ment meted out to them and that then was little interest among engineers in cross‐disciplinary discussions. I was appalled that so many of the engineers seemed inclined to accept this evaluation of themselves and several times engineering students have explained to me that it is a fact of life that intelligent people avoid the study of engineering. The CEI is trying to improve the image of the engineer but, judging from the contemptuous references to ‘spanner men’ I have heard in several universities this year, they are not likely to achieve this merely by labelling as an outcast anyone who failed to get 2 A‐levels before he left school.
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