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Practical Skills Education

06/29/2009 4:48 AM

Coming from an environment where woodwork and metalwork were taught to secondary school children from the age of 11, the claim that carpentry skills are no longer taught at some schools was received as a bit of a shock.

Is this true? If so, then how are youngsters going to be taught the basic practical life-skills needed, and what does this bode for the future of Engineering as a set of practical disciplines?

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#81
In reply to #66
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Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:25 PM

I was only referring to the new world railroad and yes I probably am eurocentric because that is where I was born. I was referring to the surveyors and construction supers who told the labourers where to place the track not the grunts actually placing it. There is lot of work behind the scenes prior to the first piece of track being laid on the ground. The navvies and chinese did not design the trestle bridges used to cross gulleys and valleys. That was done by experienced and skilled people. Nor did the chinese design the rolling stock for which the track was laid. That too is part of building the railway network.

And yes I am aware of the mesopotamian canals not to mention the quanat water conduits that predated the roman aquaducts by many centuries. There is also an example of a large water whe pump that is at least 150 years old and still functional. Its located in Syria. A friend took pictures of it when he visited. But the Roman engineers also developed sea concrete as demonstrated in their construction of Cecaerium harbor 2000 years ago in what is now Isreal. Virtually all the early technology used in the nineteenth century was imported from Europe and even during the first half of the twentieth century it was primarily european trained craftsmen who provided the skilled work force of eastern manufacturing plants. The so called apprenticeship plans used in both Canada and the USA was a poor shadow of how it was done in Europe. Factory owners saw it as a needless waste of money since so many fully trained new workers could be found at any time. It was only when this last generation of european trained workers retired or died off that the true magnitude of the shortage became apparent.

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#83
In reply to #81

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:38 PM

It was the surveyors and supervisors that told the grunts where to put the rails. It was the grunts that new how to place them there.

Two different sets of skills values.

Military:

Officers know what needs to be done. The Enlisted know how to get it done.

Different sets of skill values.

Engineers know the theory but the mechanics know how to make it happen.

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#97
In reply to #83

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 4:56 PM

You obviously have never taken a vehicle into a Ford dealership in the Central Valley. I am a engineer, and still have to double check and fix things after i have them do anything, including the fact they always overfill the oil in my pick up by exactly 1 quart. The main reason I use Ford is that they have all the correct parts available in a reasonable time, not that their mechanics have any particular knowledge that I do not. I can actually do a better job myself, but it takes time i do not have, plus vehicle down time i can not afford, and it is harder for me to obtain the parts as cheaply. I think most engineers know how to do what the mechanic does as well or better, but they have better uses for their time (though the time spent trying to explain something to labor can sometimes make it seem easier to do yourself, except the liability and lawyers definitely make that a bad idea). Conversely, I know the mechanics can not do what the engineers do, and do it even reasonably properly.

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#100
In reply to #97

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 6:00 PM

I wasn't thinking about mechanics in a garage, they're pretty much all mechanics in a garage. I used to work for Surroz Dodge, BMW and Suzuki. We supposedly had the Top Service Department in the Valley, at least that was supposed to be one of our selling points, but we didn't have any engineers at the dealership. They were all certified mechanics.

I was thinking about the engineers I work with and the assemblers in the shop that go out into the field to do warrantee work on existing machines and while they are building and testing the machines in shop.

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#115
In reply to #97

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/02/2009 12:52 AM

Ya sure the dipstick isn't too long??

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#126
In reply to #115

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/02/2009 11:14 AM

I am sure, because twice so far I have forgotten to check it when i had it in for repairs at ford, and the front end seals started leaking before i got around to checking it in the first week i had it back. and surprise it was almost a quart over full then too.

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#128
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Re: Practical Skills Education

07/02/2009 12:58 PM

I have real doubts one quart over fill of oil will effect front seals at all. It may possibly cause foaming of oil in the pan from flailing crank shaft journals and contribute to slight reduction of fuel economy; maybe. You may only know if the dip stick is correct length if the number of quarts added is correct for the crank case capacity and you don't know how many quarts they added.

The average car engine will consume one quart oil between service intervals; though I don't suspect the garage added an extra for that reason.

Are you aware of the type oil used? Or what conditions may adversely effect the front seals, what do you mean by front seals?

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#75
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Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:00 PM

Practicals skills were general life skills needed and utilized with or without school.

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#76
In reply to #75

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:05 PM

Much of which should be taught by the parents.

A couple months ago I sent my son to go close and latch his grandfather's gate. I never sent him on that erend before and he was searching around to for the latch. That told me that I needed to spend more time with him in the garage because that is a basic mechanical skill that a 10 year old should have already known. It's also something that more outside play time would have taught him rather then playing video games.

It's as simple as that.

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#79
In reply to #76

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:10 PM

Wow, it's very reassuring to see a parent that is actually taking responsibilty for his children instead of blaming the media or video games or something else.

We need more parents like you.

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#101
In reply to #79

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 7:47 PM

" ... a parent that is actually taking responsibilty for his children ... "

I assure you, Janissaries is not alone in that.

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#129
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Re: Practical Skills Education

07/02/2009 1:06 PM

Everyone benefits when everyone has practical skills training period.

A part of this discussion seems to be unaware of the capabilities within software to overcome many of the conditions which have in some circumstances of the past allowed a lack of oversight to contribute to design errors before the project reached the production floor.

The fact remains though that the society benefits when each one has practical skills training and that's the point.

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#30

Re: Practical Skills Education

06/30/2009 12:47 PM

My observations are that it is getting worse. The tools available today are so "good" they are intimidating. Every decent working shop uses CNC machines, programmable lathes, and other stuff. Tools in the home are complex and more powerful. I will admit they are much safer than older power tools. I remember in shop class we learned how to use hand tools for a task before learning to use a power tool. We learned how to select, inspect, and maintain tools.

A few weeks ago I needed to drill a hole in a wood board at a waterline. I realized all my drilling tools were power tools. I didn't trust them standing in waist deep in water. My "eggbeater" hand drill was not big enough for a 1" hole. I could not find a brace and bit at any big box store (Lowe's, Home Depot, W mart). I ended up at a flee market antique dealer. It worked great. My teenage children had never seen a brace used to drill a hole in wood!

Skills like measuring a simple dimension are lost. If there is a digital readout it is OK, you will get all the digits the display shows. Use a tape measure and there is little concept of how much accuracy for length is needed.

Basic maintenance, oiling, sharpening of blades and edges, checking for damage and general around the house maintenance is also being lost.

The same must be true for the "Home Economics" classes that taught other domestic skills (sewing, cooking, food persevering, leather work, painting, basic plumbing).

It makes me tremble!

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#82
In reply to #30

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:34 PM

Skills like measuring a simple dimension are lost.

Such as how to determine and then construct an angle having only a tape measure.

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#84
In reply to #82

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:41 PM

Measure 4 feet one direction and 3 feet in another direction and if the angle is 90 degrees the measurement between those two points will be 5 feet.

That's where your geometry class comes into play. One of those classes that students say they'll never use in real life.

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#88
In reply to #82

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 1:00 PM

I just used this while torquuing head gasket bolt. The directions were to torque to 23 Ft Lbs and then turn another 50 degree. I got my ruler and calculated the correct amount of rotation on a piece of cardboard. God I love it when trig works.

And yes, since I learned how to use tools at a very early age and developed a good mechanical sense I was able to teach myself auto repair. It's all nuts and bolts and bits, right.....

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#106
In reply to #30

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 8:55 PM

Or cut oneself when cooking at the house of one or another friend who has not the slightest idea of good steel and cutting tools or how to sharpen such much less have tool to do so.

j.

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#47

Re: Practical Skills Education

06/30/2009 6:23 PM

I'm not sure if this question is directed towards the U.K. or the U.S. but in the U.S., metalwork and woodworking classes have been dropped from most schools. I think the reason is lack of money in the school budgets. That coupled with a lack of interest by the kids. Kids just don't seem to be interested in manual skills. They would rather fool with computers and video games. I'm sure liability is a factor also.

When I went to college, I went to an institute. They combined book learning with hands-on learning. I took a semester each of machine shop, foundry, pattern making, strength of materials in addition to the usual lab classes in chemistry, physics and electrical engineering. I already had an interest in the manual skills. Later on in life, around 30 years later, I took classes in machine shop and welding at community colleges.

One of the big reasons why people of my generation have manual skills is because we didn't have all the conveniences that are now available today. My family couldn't afford to buy me a bike, so out of necessity, I built my own up from salvaged parts. Back in the early 50's, I was interested in high fidelity reproduction, but I didn't have he budget to pursue it. I made my own hi-fi equipment, amplifiers, speakers and record and tape equipment. Saturday morning was spent in the electronics shops and scrap yards of lower Manhattan, New York, searching for parts. I doubt that anyone today has that kind of interest. Even today, I still rummage through dumpsters looking for that treasure scrap that no one wants or even knows what to do with.

Go back in time 100+ years to the Midwest. Farmers were adept at building all sorts of things. They didn't have the luxury of running down to the hardware store as it didn't exist or was hundreds of miles away. They learned to machine, weld, blacksmith, etc in order to keep their equipment in working order. They built their own barns and houses and repaired their farm machinery.

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#48

Re: Practical Skills Education

06/30/2009 7:06 PM

Just before we completely fall off the pot here.. I would like to point out the educational value of Youtube. Just try a few sample searches such as:

plumbing (my favourite)

electrical house wiring

Machining

Welding

torque wrench

drilling rig

autocad

solidworks

clutch

manual transmission

2 stroke engine

etc. etc. etc. there are hundreds of training videos available. at least its a start.

and now that video cameras come with a direct-to-youtube feature, surely more of the people who do have knowledge and equipment will be able to transfer their knowledge to the next generation... maybe there won't be traditional training skools anymore?

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#99
In reply to #48

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 5:28 PM

How about tire mounting with a can of brake cleaner and a match?

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#110
In reply to #48

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 11:22 PM

Aside from one or two examples from the offered UTube education let me point out that given the huge number of UTube presentations the beginner has not the slightest idea which of those presentations is valid, i.e., who of those folks has any idea of what they are talking about, nor given that how to acquire a complete understanding.

I found the electrical stuff instructive, negatively.

For instance the fellow telling us how to change a breaker.

Consider the rank amateur who has not the slightest idea about electrons or just what is going on in a wire or in the circuits he is confronted with in a breaker panel.

First, I would have thought the "instructor" would have cautioned extreme care lifting off the panel cover so as to avoid contacting live circuits or shorting them to ground.

Before disconnecting a wire with a metal screwdriver I would have hoped he would instruct to turn off the breaker in question.

I could go on, most here I suspect will see my concerns. I wonder what liability is for UTube, let alone the producers of those videos, if someone electrocutes themselves especially standing on moist ground at those outdoor panels.

Then the video of the panel in the basement of a house.

Not a word is said about the general problems with such panels.

Specifically nothing is said about the problems with aluminum service entry cable; neither as to oxidation nor tightness of connections specific to that cable.

Recently, I had occasion to install a new circuit in a panel of a friends house that must have been thirty or forty years old.

Just as we took the panel cover, and off I heard a snap. My friend heard nothing. Nonetheless, I knew immediately what it was especially given I was going to check it given the age of the home.

When we pulled the house meter, no disconnects, and went back and wiggled the hot legs of the aluminum service entrance cable one of them was loose. You could see the black marks made by the arc that I had heard.

When we removed them from the breaker they proved not to have any of the anti-oxide coating that code now requires. They were loose because even when properly coated and properly installed, differences of coefficient of expansion between the dissimilar metals of the breakers and the cable, with changes of temperature, let alone arcing, tend to cause their loosening.

All too many houses have burned because of such problems.

The video gives not the slightest clue.

The only place you get that kind of knowledge is in the classroom or on the job with highly skilled electricians over time.

The videos, I suspect, ought to be banned as a menace inviting people to get in deeper than they are capable of knowing.

I could go on to the welding and machining. I'll let go by noting my being insulted by the chauvinist "plumbing" video.

But that is the point. Point to any craft, any skill, any engineering specialty.

All these things are closely interwoven. Theory and practice exist side by side and without an appreciation for each other what results is not up to snuff and also dangerous.

Just thinking about it now I will bet if someone did a study of injuries resulting from slovenly work and/or engineering of products, how many would be the result of narrow ignorance.

I will bet someone here will come up with just such a study.

j.

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#65

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 11:01 AM

I guess that I should confess that I was instrumental in eliminating a metal-working shop class at this university -- not because it was worthless knowledge for the students, and not that it wasn't fun for them to play with lathes and milling machines, but because the equipment they learned on was WWII vintage, very few would have ever worked for a business which used such equipment, and efficiency of space utilization was practically zero.

The kids only took one semester's worth of instruction, and they didn't learn enough to be called "trained," although their careers may be to teach at a trade school. Their instructor didn't know diddly squat about machining, as he had only taken that course a few years before -- he knew just enough to keep them from getting hurt while producing things like aluminum meat tenderizing mallets. The space was "held," for lack of a better term, by the Industrial Education department, which had moved all other classes and labs to another building. That student machine shop occupied about 1,500 sq. ft. of space that the College of Engineering sorely needed. We had already regained 2,500 sq. ft. of space formerly occupied by Industrial Education's woodworking shop.

I suggested that students who wished to learn more about machining should take several classes at a local trade (technical) school where they could at least learn much more (than they could here) on relatively modern machines.

In conclusion, I don't regret having won that battle over whose building space Industrial Education occupied, and I don't think I really cheated the students out of any significant knowledge, but I do think that youngsters should learn how to do stuff -- not just push buttons.

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#68
In reply to #65

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 11:16 AM

I'm afraid you are mistaken.

My company utilizes machinery with Fred and Barney technology. I have to outsource parts that require CNC accuracy.

The college, instead of trashing the program, could have upgraded the machinery to more state of the art. It doesn't even have to be state of the art it could have been used CNC equipment. With that equipment available for lab work to supplement the mechanical engineer's education.

It's one thing to read about factoring in the bend radius and the stretch of sheet metal but it's another to actually see how it affects the entire part in general.

Someone might think that 1/64" loss in the bend might not mean that much. If you are bending a part with several bends in it that 1/64" could lead to an 1/8" difference over all and that might be enough to make any holes in the piece from aligning with what ever holes they were meant to be used in conjunction with for bolting.

Programs like Solidworks will factor that for you in the flat patterns, but you might not have solid works available all the time. Often times the drawings are drawn on a piece of cardboard that is lying around.

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#71
In reply to #68

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 11:31 AM

I'm afraid you are mistaken.

No, I am not mistaken. The students were Industrial Education students; not machinist students, not future shop worker students, not future Fred and Barney technology users.

Some (read that as very few) may have become trade school teachers. At the time I did my survey, only a few former students ever touched a machine tool again.

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#118
In reply to #71

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/02/2009 1:29 AM

"At the time I did my survey, only a few former students ever touched a machine tool again."

But the question being avoided is were they benefited by that or harmed by it?

Put another way would they have benefited from continued use of those tools?

j.

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#120
In reply to #118

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/02/2009 8:37 AM

I didn't avoid the question, " . . . were they benefited by that or harmed by it?" Nor did I avoid it put another way. I stated in post #65 that, "I guess that I should confess that I was instrumental in eliminating a metal-working shop class at this university -- not because it was worthless knowledge for the students, and not that it wasn't fun for them to play with lathes and milling machines . . . ," and, "The kids only took one semester's worth of instruction, and they didn't learn enough to be called "trained," although their careers may be to teach at a trade school. Their instructor didn't know diddly squat about machining, as he had only taken that course a few years before -- he knew just enough to keep them from getting hurt while producing things like aluminum meat tenderizing mallets."

Also, in post #65, I stated, "I suggested that students who wished to learn more about machining should take several classes at a local trade (technical) school where they could at least learn much more (than they could here) on relatively modern machines."

So, what's your point?

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#78
In reply to #68

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:07 PM

The purpose of these classes is to introduce students to the BASICS, not to prepare them for a job.

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#70
In reply to #65

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 11:21 AM

not because it was worthless knowledge for the students, and not that it wasn't fun for them to play with lathes and milling machines, but because the equipment they learned on was WWII vintage, very few would have ever worked for a business which used such equipment,

Wrong reasons for eliminating that, You never worked in a shipyard that utilized some of the ancient tools, and I have the scares to prove it.

And with that said, you should figure out a better reason to eliminate the tools, not for the reasons you stated

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#72
In reply to #70

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 11:36 AM

He covered it in response to me.

They were Industrial Education students not machinist students. So it wasn't practical in maintaining the equipment if it wasn't contributing very much to their core educatoin.

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#73
In reply to #70

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 11:38 AM

You are correct. I never worked in a shipyard. However, I have worked in a machine shop and used some very ancient tools, and I would love to own some of the ones I have used, and I have scars also.

Because I mentioned something about a university, you may erroneously think that I am a professor or administrator who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. I assure you that I do know my ass from a hole in the ground -- I have dug ditches for a living.

My experience ranges from digging ditches to engineering research. I have used tools all my life. I am not an advocate for eliminating tools. I am an advocate for intelligent use of resources.

Anything else?

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#77
In reply to #73

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:06 PM

The point I was getting at was the reason for eliminating the tools has nothing to do with you or your perception of needs, the reason should have been safety for eliminated the tools.

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#85
In reply to #77

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:41 PM

Well and a cost effective and efficient use of resources such a college space and student education time. Somehow the old laborers think engineering students should learn engineering, but also spend time becoming how to drill holes by hand in college. There are a limited number of units and time in which to teach these students, as it stands now engineering and science students usually are right at the maximum to still qualify for a BS degree in most college curriculums, while teaching and business students curriculums are set at the bare minimum to qualify to graduate for a BA degree, and then they make special remedial course for these majors because the standard math and science requirements are to stringent. You are talking about a difference of almost 50 quarter units. Their time spent learning is a resource, and i think spending it in college learning to drill holes is probably not a good application of that time, especially when you have a huge unskilled high school educated labor force who can do it or if you wanted higher quality and production you'd get an automated robotic system. though i guess from a business perspective, a 25 year old entry level junior engineer is probably cheaper labor than a 25 year old union hole driller, and the engineer is salaried=no overtime, so that might be the cheaper labor force (unless the current class action suit proves out against the corporations who have been practicing such business activities).

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:55 PM

and i think spending it in college learning to drill holes is probably not a good application of that time, especially when you have a huge unskilled high school educated labor force who can do it or if you wanted higher quality and production you'd get an automated robotic system.

Not so much teaching basic courses in colleges, which is a waste of time and money but, you hit on a point that is from the op......and that is why does an educated engineer need a unskilled laborer to drill a hole because the engineer doesn't know how.

Sounds like a joke......doesn't it. Does the engineer give up unskilled tasks to have skills......or is unskilled labor underestimated.

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#89
In reply to #85

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 1:03 PM

Somehow we got off track. By the time someone enters college or university they should have a nodding acquaintance with normal hand tools and their use. Even a book keeper or accountant should know how to replace a worn outlet in their house or unstick a binding door by planing off a bit of the wood. As someone said they didn't want to pay $100 for someone to come a do a five minute job. Whether its replacing the power supply in a computer or replacing the air filter in a car, it still requires a screwdriver.

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#90
In reply to #89

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 1:19 PM

And these would be the simple menial task skills you learn at a young age from mentoring by a parent usually. If you are in high school and can take the course necessary to enter college, or some fluff courses in cooking or wood working, you really should take the college pre-requisites. It is the responsibility of parents to show children how to do the un-skilled labor tasks. I learned how to finish concrete, finish carpentry, plumbing and other related skills from my parents, grandparents, uncles and other family members starting before i was 10. As a Civil engineer I can tell you none of those help in my trade, because i work with unionize labor force that is comprised of the people who barely graduated high school, or may not even be citizen, and do not have the skill level I have at these activities. You end up trying to explain how to complete a task in conformance with Caltrans, ASTM or ASCE standards, and you know how it can be done quite easily, but either due to laziness or lack of comprehension they don't get it done properly or intentionally mess the task up to try and prove it can not be done properly. I have found it is much better to not know how these people do anything (except in reference to major critical items) and let them go about their work, then hold them to the contract specifications later for minor repairs. You may actually be surprised to find out how much many of those young engineers actually do know, but it is safer to let you go about doing it like you are the expert, and wait to handle issues later if they arise (rather then end up doing all the unskilled labor work themselves also). It is not a matter of people knowing how to use a screw driver, it is a matter of it being worth the peoples time investment to perform such activities. Most people just use the excuse that they do not know how , because it is easier than say I don't want to.

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#92
In reply to #90

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 1:40 PM

"I have found it is much better to not know how these people do anything (except in reference to major critical items) and let them go about their work, then hold them to the contract specifications later for minor repairs. "

I am certain (hopeful) that you decry this inspection based process in theory, but find it utilitarian in application.

I find it frightening that this might be the model for the construction of our public works as your experience is Civil Engineering.

"I hope they inspected this and repaired it to the contract specification." ( YIKES! he Shivers!)

milo

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#95
In reply to #92

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 3:03 PM

Oh I am not saying do not inspect the work. Inspection is conducted after a work task is completed. At the inspection point you indetify the discrepancies, and tell the contractor to repair to conform to the specifications. He then complains that the work could not be completed in a manner to confrom to the specifications, and the City Manager typically tries to come up with something intermediate that looks good enough on the surface for the City Council and general public, and will hold up until at least after the next election but does not force the contractor to complete the job in full conformance.

However, if you tell a contractor hwo to actually do the work so that it can be compelted in conformance with specifications during the work task, he will frequently just mess it up so bad that it is worse than what he had proposed, then try to hold you liabable for the repairs (and maybe a little extra to cover his head ache of listening to you explain how to use a hammer properly). Frequently I hear the "I have been doing this for 30 some odd years" story, but I never hear "I have been doing this correctly for 30 some odd years". (Never remind a contractor that doing it for 30 years also implies he could have been doing it wrong for 30 years.)

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#96
In reply to #95

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 3:19 PM

This is one of those times shooting the messenger is effective...

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#93
In reply to #85

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 2:48 PM

I agree with you, and I also agree with others, even though some think I've got my head up my ass and don't have a clue about the topic of this thread or what to do with my problems that they don't have a clue about.

That said, I believe a lot of our differences stems from the fact that many of us agree on the subject, but it looks/seems like we don't. From over fifty years ago to around ten years ago (we finally got tired of it), my twin brother and I would get into arguments only to find out later that we on the same side with different perspectives.

GA for you.

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#94
In reply to #93

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 2:53 PM

Agreed.

If practical application is not taught in secondary schools whom will the unhandy engineers turn to for advise?

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#87
In reply to #65

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/01/2009 12:55 PM

Obfuscation is not a point of reference

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#133

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/04/2009 8:40 AM

"The engineer works with his head. The craftsman works with his hands. The artisan works with his head, his hands, and his heart."

Don't know where I first saw that quote, but it's true. Equally true is that most folks are predominately left brained. The right brain is generally more creative in the three dimensional mode. Genius is the ability to use both sides in tandem.

Trouble is that school administrators, politicians, postal workers and telephone sanitizers are all left brain dominant. Spatial relationships are not their forte', so how can they be relied upon to design a curriculum for something they can't understand? But these are the people who are in the majority and thus decide and vote upon funding for the 'arts'.

"Use it, or lose it." describes the conundrum we are now faced with. And there is much nostalgia for 'lost arts' of our ancestors. And while it is true that I tried early to teach my son the joys of accomplishment in the crafts, his schooling was of a different emphasis. He cannot see the value of learning a trade when his contemporaries are having some fun at computer hacking. Fat lot of good that will do him.

We'll see what happens when the last artisan leaves the shop floor.

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#135

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/04/2009 12:12 PM

How did we go from learning something about the basic skills of a practical nature to saying everyone had to learn a 'trade' in school in addition to learning a profession.

The original question was: "how are youngsters going to be taught the basic practical life-skills needed, and what does this bode for the future of Engineering as a set of practical disciplines?"

Please note the phrase ' practical life-skills' .

I earn my living by using my head and a computer. But I also have to live in the real world. My income is not unlimited. Yesterday I carried out a repair job that saved me a days pay. I had to replace the universal joints because lazy mechanics had not done the job properly as requested and paid for a couple of years ago. If they had done the job properly and replaced ALL the universal joint this repair job would not have been needed.

In these slow times I am not finding full time employment. Friends have encouraged me to advertise my repair skills locally. The situation is we live a long ways ( one hour drive) from the nearest big town and people around here cannot afford to pay travelling time as well as time on the job for a service person to come to their home and do repairs. In fact many cannot afford to pay the inflated rates charged by most big commercial businesses. But things still need fixing. Many are minorn some major. Unfortunately an increasing number of people do not such have practical skills. So while they may be able to look up the information on the internet what good does that do? Someone stil has to turn a screw driver or a wrench. Someone still has to have the requisite skill to diagnose what is wrong in the first place.

Even doctors, lawyers, and accountants encounter sticky doors or broket wall outlets and light circuits that no longer work even if the breaker is on and the switch seems to move. While doctors, lawyers, and accountants, may be able to afford to pay $100 for a trades person to drive one hour to reach their home, most people are finding that cost prohibitive these days.

And if the furnace stops heating, even something as simple as a tripped thermal device on them required diagnostics. It doesn't require a trade specialist to correct, but it does require a bit of practical know how to go looking for it.

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#136
In reply to #135

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/04/2009 3:13 PM

Granted times were better a few years ago, but a few summers back I signed my sons to a 3 week class in woodwork taught out of a guys garage.

I didn't have the shop space at the time and the fee was reasonable - might kill two birds with one stone?

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#137
In reply to #135

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/05/2009 4:26 AM

Society has lost it's way...evidenced by this conversation...

practical life-skills

Can be learned but not always taught.

"He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool - shun him. He who knows not and knows he knows not: he is simple - teach him. He who knows and knows not he knows: he is asleep - wake him. He who knows and knows he knows: he is wise - follow him."

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#138
In reply to #137

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/06/2009 7:29 AM

What a delightful quote.

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#141

Re: Practical Skills Education

07/06/2009 1:43 PM

Today I read a post that seem to touch on this very subject of practical training. http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/40045/Just-Need-a-Bit-of-Help?frmtrk=CR4digest

The poster evidently is self directed in his learning process and just googles for answers. Which seems to be the recommended practice now a days. Well, he was lucky that he did not cause personal injury in the example he gave. The advantage of practical subject training in schools is that it first lays down the safety rules to prevent personal injury. Googling doesn't necessarily do that! Things like how to hold a piece of work when chiselling out a part or blocking a vehicle properly before changing a flat tire or taking precautions before connecting something to the electrical source of supply. I read up on how to make a nuclear device. Take two lumps of enriched uranium, form into half spheres and bring together with a snap. simple eh?? . . . hey it works in theory don't it? Google results says so.

Self directed education presupposes that the elementary safety practices are already known where applicable. Not always the case. I have read a number of websites dealing with how to make a wind generator using permanent magnets. Quite by accident I found a website with a caution. It graphically depicted what happens when a finger gets in between two such magnets and no physical restraints are in place.

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