General Engineering Projects/Student Introduction

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Here is an outline of an introduction to engineering class ethical code. Ethics is the negotiation of group behavior. Those that can not make the commitments below need to reconsider participating in the class.

This is not a course where one just talks/reads/hears about engineering. The goal is to participate in engineering. It demands full engagement/commitment. Each student is assumed to be an engineer for the entire semester. Students that decide they don't want to be an engineer can drop, withdraw or get a bad grade. There is no option to stop trying to be an engineer.

I WILL NEVER USE THE EXCUSE "I don't have enough time." I KNOW MY PRIORITIES.

The excuse "I don't have enough time" is not something heard in engineering. Engineers are paid a salary, not by the hour. Engineers are paid to have priority discussions, task discussions. Engineers don't need help establishing priorities. They don't over extend themselves. Most engineering activities are open ended, thus some tasks's time can not be easily estimated. But then tasks themselves are full of uncertainty. Working within these boundaries is completely different than retail jobs where hours are negotiated.

I WILL FIND A WAY TO PUSH MY PROJECT FORWARD EACH WEEK

Where there is a will, there is a way At any point, someone can find an excuse to stop working. There are no such excuses in engineering. You are committing to brainstorm alternatives until exhaustion sets in, time is used up or something realistic in the moment becomes visible. Duct tape, chewing gum, baling wire and WD-40 is a list that most engineers recite when emphasizing this principle. If you say "It can not be done" without documented exhaustion, then your instructor will feel tempted to embarrass the engineering part of yourself by doing it instantly.

I CAN AND WILL PLAY ANY POSITION WITHIN AN ENGINEERING TEAM

Every member should be willing to do anything for the team. It doesn't matter if it is something sexy like brainstorming solutions or repetitive like working on the project documentation. Expressing preferences should be done from a service motive, rather than "I want to do this because it is similar to civil engineering, and I want to be a civil engineer."

I CAN LEARN ANYTHING FAST, AND ON MY OWN

Engineers are most dangerous when bored. They are most bored when repeating something they have already done. An engineer praises the world when they are paid to learn something new on their own. It doesn't matter what. It doesn't matter who it is new to, as long as it is new to them.

I CAN DOCUMENT FAILURE

I CAN DOCUMENT WHAT WAS EXPECTED, WHAT WAS TRIED, AND WHAT HAPPENED AND EXTERNALIZE ANY FAILURE School has taught you to only document success. Engineering is about documenting frustration and failure. Edison did not test 2000 light bulb designs, he had a staff that did the testing. And they did not duplicate tests. The only way they could accomplish this was by documenting what was tried that did not work. This is what you are committing to doing.

School has taught you that instructors should teach. Future engineering classes are a little different. They teach what worked in the past. Actual engineering names things and documents what doesn't work. Tutorials are created when something does work.

I CAN TURN PERSONAL FRUSTRATION INTO A VALUABLE ASSET

I can document frustration When you learn on your own, the most valuable thing you can do for the rest of the world is document where you are stuck, what you expected, what is going wrong, and what you have tried. Then pause, hold the frustration in silence and then try some way to change yourself, change your thinking. This is where the engineering notebook becomes valuable. Creating a report of where you got stuck and what you have tried must be done before asking for help. Otherwise it looks like an emotional personal problem, rather than a problem with the world that you have uncovered. IT IS THE WORLD'S PROBLEM

I AM AVAILABLE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF CLASS

I PLAN ON WORKING 8 HOURS PER WEEK OUTSIDE OF CLASS TIME AND AM AVAILABLE TO WORK AT ___________ WITH OTHERS ON MY TEAM WEEKLY. Class time (4 hours a week) is spent in negotiation of tasks, presentations, ordering, receiving, checking supplies out, and getting certified on tools. Engineering occurs outside of the classroom. Eight (8) hours per week are expected outside of classroom. This is spent on the tasks negotiated within the classroom.

Plan on 15 minutes of fun and two hours documenting what you did. The two hours documenting typically results in something that takes 30 seconds to understand. Good documentation is hard work.

Trying to get all work done during class time is going to be impossible. There will be time to work in class, but your goal is to figure out:

  • when tools or materials or "more experienced people" are in the engineering rooms
  • when your team mates are free

If you don't know when you are free then it becomes impossible for you to work within a team.

LIFE IS NOT GOING TO GET IN THE WAY OF MY SUCCESS IN THIS COURSE

Most students fail because "life gets in the way." Now is the time to be selfish. Everyone else in your life needs to make your success at school the number one priority in their life too. Compassion, sacrifice and health all have to flow to your benefit. Transportation, friends and legal problems derail more students than money once the semester starts. All of these things should be stable and predictable before you attempt to make new commitments to an engineering team.

I CAN SPEAK ENGLISH WHILE EXPERIENCING THE EMOTIONS ASSOCIATED WITH INSPIRATION, FRUSTRATION AND FAILURE

If you can not distinguish between will do, have done, planning on doing, committed to doing, trying to do .. then you are going to have problems in this course.

If you can not say this worked, this didn't and document what didn't work then you are going to have problems in this course.

English classes teach reading, writing and listening. They don't teach taking about frustration, failure and inspiration in the moment with teammates. They don't teach thinking on your feet in front of the class or in front of the public. The only way you can avoid English conversations in this course is to discourage/avoid them. It is hard for the English speaking world to distinguish conversation avoidance from "lack of motivation", "incompetence" or "slacking" in a negative way.

Engineering is perceived as a "science" class where English is not as important. Many take Community College classes to become more comfortable with English yet they are competing with Freshman in some colleges with TOEFL score requirements of over 90. Engineering fundamentally is about working on a team. If one avoids English conversations, then success is doubtful.


Everyone has lived life in a unique way. Maybe every tool, every material, every computer program in the engineering room is a mystery. Maybe everyone else seems to be familiar with things you are not. You have a choice to

  • feel sorry for yourself
  • demonstrate what you do know
  • learn very fast and catch up

Believe that every person, at every stage of life, feels the same three options. Always start with demonstrating what you know. The best engineers find starting points within their own experiences. And then they look for a way to prove they can work hard and solve tough problems. So start looking for problems to solve!