Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/448

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442
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

GENERAL EDUCATION FOR ENGINEERS.
By Professor CHAS. D. MARX,

STANFORD UNIVERSITY.

THERE has been of late years a large increase in the number of students of engineering in our colleges and universities. An investigation made by Professor Raymond, of the Iowa State University, shows that the attendance in arts and science courses has increased in four years 15 per cent., in engineering courses 102 per cent. This tendency on the part of the young men to take up the study of the more practical lines of work in preference to the so-called more liberalizing studies is viewed with grave concern by some. 'Are we to be merely a nation of shopkeepers and engineers?' has been asked from this platform. While not sharing the fear implied in this question, I must admit that because of the tendency of the young men of the country to take up engineering studies, the proper training of the engineer is a matter of vital importance to the commonwealth. The extent to which engineering enters into some of the most vexing problems of our national and municipal life is perhaps fully realized only by men who have an engineering training. The correct solution of these problems can in many cases be given only by engineers; but these must be men trained on broad lines. The charge is brought not infrequently that the professional structure which we rear on the foundation laid in our public schools is a narrow one, lacking in windows from which to gain the necessary outlook for surveying even one's own field, let alone that of one's neighbor. The charge is well founded, but may with equal justice be brought against students in other lines of work.

The graduate from a high school who takes up engineering studies should be required to broaden his intellectual horizon before beginning his professional work. The difficulty of bringing this about is great, and the introduction of the elective system has certainly not helped matters. The tendency toward early specialization is constantly increasing, and one-sided narrow linguists, historians and scientists are as much a menace to the commonwealth as one-sided engineers. For it must be borne in mind that the work which the engineer is called upon to do is in the world, implies contact with men and things and is in its nature broadening. It is cultural in the best sense of the word, and must, therefore, react on him. This does not hold true to the same extent for the other lines of work mentioned. In a democracy