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Professor warns: “Social justice warriors” are destroying engineering

“What is won without effort is surely without merit, and what is torn down and trampled will not easily be raised up again. We had better tread carefully.”

~ Indrek Wichman

 

Indrek Wichman, a mechanical engineer professor at Michigan State University, has eyed a troubling trend of social justice warriors making their way through the humanities and social sciences and, to his despair, they now have their sights set on leveling their destruction on engineering.

WichmanHaving spent 30 years teaching mechanical engineering, Wichman acknowledges things have changed dramatically and is concerned that “feelings” and “micro-aggressions” have taken a predominant role, much to the detriment of the hard sciences.

“The world we engineers envisioned as young students is not quite as simple and straightforward as we had wished,” he states in a paper in IntellectualTakeout.org, “because a phalanx of social justice warriors, ideologues, egalitarians, and opportunistic careerists has ensconced itself in America’s colleges and universities. The destruction they have caused in the humanities and social sciences has now reached to engineering.”

He describes the approach and thought processes of an engineer in terms of aerodynamicist Theodore von Kármán. “[He] said that ‘a scientist studies what is, while an engineer creates what never was.’ In engineering, we apply scientific principles in the design and creation of new technologies for mankind’s use. It’s a creative process.”

“We engineers like to solve technical problems. That’s the way we think, that’s why we chose our major, that’s why we got into and stayed in engineering,” Wichman writes.

This pragmatic thought process of the engineer is the antithesis of what social justice warriors subscribe to, which he describes as “social engineering” – a mindset of “setting the world right – in his or her opinion” as opposed to the engineer’s mindset of “solving technical problems.”

Wichman writes that engineering is meant to be like the scales of justice, blind. “Engineering does not care about your color, sexual orientation, or your other personal and private attributes,” he writes. “All it takes to succeed is to do the work well.”

“Even as an undergraduate many years ago, my engineering classmates and I noticed that fact, and we were proud to have a major that valued only the quality of one’s work. In that sense, engineering was like athletics, or music, or the military: there were strict and impersonal standards.”

Now with the infiltration of social justice warriors sweeping into every discipline, the daily vocabulary in engineering is made up of phrases such as “diversity” and “different perspectives” and “racial gaps” and “unfairness” and “unequal outcomes.”

“Instead of calculating engine horsepower or microchip power/size ratios or aerodynamic lift and drag, the “engineering educationists” focus on group representation, hurt feelings, and ‘micro-aggressions’ in the profession,” he says.

He refers to Purdue University’s engineering education school to make his case, and says that to his dismay the school’s engineering department rests on such bizarre notions as “reimagining engineering” and “empowering agents of change.”

“What does “reimagining engineering” mean? Since engineering is basically creativity, how are we supposed to “reimagine creativity”? That makes no sense,” Wichman argues. “And, just for the record, engineers “empower” themselves and, most important, other people, by inventing things. Those things are our agents of change.”

The professor points out the newly-appointed dean of Purdue’s school of engineering education, Dr. Donna Riley, and how her thought processes go off into the wild blue yonder:

“In her words:  ‘I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics, and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups…. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism, and colonialism…. Gender is a key…[theme]…[throughout] the course…. We…[examine]… racist and colonialist projects in science….’”

That starts off innocently enough, discussing the intersection of engineering with public policy and ethics, but then veers off the rails once Riley begins disparaging the free movement of capital, the role of Western civilization, and the nature of men, specifically “colonialist” white men. How can it improve the practice of engineering to bring in such diversions and distractions?

Riley’s purpose seems not to be how best to train new engineers but to let everyone know how bad engineers have been, how they continue to “oppress” women and persons of color, how much we need “diverse perspectives,” and how the “struggle” continues to level all distinctions and differences in society.

For a bit of context, Riley received an award from the National Science Foundation in 2005 for her work on implementing and assessing critical and feminist pedagogies in engineering classrooms. According to AutoStraddle.com, “in 2008 she published Engineering and Social Justice and in 2010 was awarded the NOGLSTP Educator of the Year award for her work on combining social justice work and science pedagogy. She is out both personally and professionally as bisexual, and speaks as articulately about biphobia to the queer community as she does about homophobia to the heteronormative world.”

Wichman laments that the concept of “engineering education” emphasizes a minority- and female-based approach to diversifying the discipline of engineering within the educational system as to rid engineering of the large percentage of white males and level the playing field with more minorities, women, and others. To accomplish this, engineering education books are focusing on social justice issues and tactics with an end goal of diversifying the engineering workforce.

The professor’s view, however, is more heavily rooted in basic common sense.

“Engineering education’s basic assumption is that engineering will be improved if the profession is crafted to be more diverse, but that is completely untested. In the universe I live in, engineering is for those who want to and can be engineers. It’s not for everybody and there is no reason to believe that aptitude for engineering is evenly distributed,” Wichman points out.

“Nor should we attack engineering’s foundations, its dominantly Western character, so that non-Westerners might suffer fewer “microaggressions” and somehow feel better about studying it.”

He also rejects the notion of pushing people into a discipline of which they have limited interest or ability, which is what he’s seeing with “engineering education.”

“Nobody wants to see an uncoordinated doofus on the NBA basketball court simply to add “diversity,” he writes. “We pay to see top-notch talent compete for victory. We should apply the same standards to engineering and stop pretending that we can “game” our wonderful profession so that anyone can succeed.”

You can read Indrek Wichman’s full paper here.

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18 Comments on Professor warns: “Social justice warriors” are destroying engineering

  1. Tyler Staverman // August 5, 2017 at 1:25 pm // Reply

    What a load of horse sh!t lol. Way to go Purdue I am sure this will only strengthen engineering standards at your school and embolden future engineers. Not to mention significantly drop Purdue’s engineering standings compared to other universities

    Like

  2. So I guess the uncoordinated white kids shouldn’t join the basketball team then?

    Like

  3. “there is no reason to believe that aptitude for engineering is evenly distributed.”

    JL: That is RACIST.

    The IGNORANCE of Wichman’s words lies in the fact that during the infancy of engineering the field was dominated by White males from wealthy backgrounds.

    They vehemently believed poor White men didn’t have the aptitude to become engineers, and were thus excluded from the profession back then.
    And, of course, the same bull was used to restrict women, too.

    Now Wichman is making the same argument, but instead of class, he’s using ethnicity.

    Racists like Wichman will cite the low number of People of Color in engineering as “proof members of their group don’t have the aptitude for this occupation,” but that proves NOTHING.
    It’s more correctly about good schools in poor neighborhoods, ridding schools of teachers who have low expectations for Students of Color, etc.
    While White coaches push Black, etc., athletes to high levels of performance, White teachers are not doing the same in classrooms because of their racist “low expectations” belief.

    Like

    • I think your blather gave me eye cancer.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Horseshit.

        If you have the skills, the aptitude, and are “of color” or female or gay or trans or whatever, schools and businesses WILL BEAT DOWN YOUR DOOR to have you as part of their enterprise.

        Because there’s all these initiatives to diversify the hard sciences.

        Stop projecting your own failure..

        Liked by 2 people

      • As soon as I saw “RACIST,” I merely glanced at the rest of this whinger’s manifesto & swear it is best summed up as “reeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” What a weenie. Everything, & I do mean everything, to these fat tongued window lickers is racist except when Caucasians are attacked verbally &/or physically. I can only hope that he loses hope for humanity & chooses to opt out of the game. We need less of these sorts! While Darwinism is controlling these screechers by way of removing procreation from their desires (even between their own, they’re quite unappealing to each other), I’d feel better if they took a pledge to off themselves if ___________(insert a person or construct, such as President Trump or “the patriarchy”) doesn’t ____________(fill in w/ their usual, insane demands, for example; “doesn’t pass a law to kill 9 out of 10 white males born.”)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your idiotic rant gave me AIDS

        Like

    • Jason Weatherby // August 5, 2017 at 4:06 pm // Reply

      You contest that aptitude for engineering isn’t evenly distributed. You claim that rich white men excluded poor white and others from pursuing engineering. You claim that women were excluded from pursuing engineering. You claim that bad schools and bad teachers are the reason students of color don’t pursue engineering in larger numbers. All of these claims are made in a single post assailing an easily verifiable claim as false. You literally attack reality with your feelings and fantasies. You demand proof of the observable and offer zero to support your claims. You are what the author is talking about.

      Don’t you have some massive student loan debt you acquired through extremely poor decision making to take care of? You’d better learn to be nicer or your tip jar at Starbucks is likely to be empty.

      Like

    • It’s not racism to assume nature is random, that’s called science. No it’s not logical to assume an even distribution of appied in any field across any give diverse population.

      It is indeed a trademark of diveristy that makes some group more predisposed towards one area or anther. This is particularly true of the dramatic differences between men and women.

      I don’t this it is random when it comes to sex as female brains tend to develup to deal best with other more emotional intelligence issues than male brains. This is probably why they tend to prefer more social fields like nursing and teaching over technical fields like engeneering and hard science.

      Biology tries it’s best to direct us towards interest that will make us successful with respect to our biolgical needs and capabilities.

      Their is probably also a reason why atheics is domminate by blacks who only make up a minority of the population.

      If you wish to embrase diveristy you should actually try embrasing diveristy for what that means not claim we are diverse while insisting that we all fit perfectly in the same round hole.
      But I suppose that is a probem an engeneer would need to solve for you.

      Like

    • You are a blind fool. If you cannot see how you are exemplifying the person or persons that are being called out for this foolishness then there really is no hope for you. Stop trying to use race and gender as a weakness or weapon and go back to just trying to succeed as people. People invent things. People build things.

      Like

    • JL: The aptitude to be a good engineer is not evenly distributed, it’s random through out all, and most people don’t make good engineers. As soon as people start engineering with feelings is when people start dying from poorly designed equipment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The oldest engineer of note was Imhotep, who built the Great Pyramids of Giza. He most certainly wasn’t white.

      Therefore, your argument is invalid.

      Like

    • I am not sure what engineering courses you were in, but my whole time at UCDavis in Comp Sci and Engineering was extremely diverse. Not that we cared… Engineers don’t care about those things, just the quality of the work

      Like

  4. zaphodbeeb // August 5, 2017 at 3:42 pm // Reply

    Can’t have people trained in applying logic and analysis of theories. If too many people can do that then the entire fabric of a socialist society crumbles to pieces.

    Like

  5. I wonder if this is how journalsim and the social sciences were distroyed. They stopped focusing upon actual work and started focusing upon preceved social injustice or some other ideological crusade. All the sudden we stop getting news, history, or good stories and start getting endless one sided propaganda.

    Distroy engeneering and people are going to die as bridges and buildings collapse due to the ‘engeneering’ that built them being focused upon their ideological crusade rather than the actual engeneering technical problem at hand.

    Nobody is saying women and minorities can’t become engeneers lots of them ligitmatly do. But your professional has to be focused upon preformance and strict standards not ideological goals or people will die.

    Don’t hire anyone from this university, and don’t work in any building designed by said people. If that is their focus then it is not tecnial accomplishment like safety.

    Like

  6. There are NO nigger engineers. Zero.

    Like

  7. I work in computer science and technology.

    When we are hiring, we don’t just do employment checks, phone interviews, and ask about
    fitting into the team.

    WE DO SEVERAL TECHNICAL INTERVIEWS!

    In those interviews you have to answer IT questions, and sometimes demonstrate on whiteboard or a live system what you would do to solve a problem.

    We do not care if you are black, green, white, or pink, or cis, bi, trans, poly, multi what the hell ever.

    You have to be able to SOLVE THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGES!

    This is not feelings and emotion, or diversity or gender fluid it’s IT, and there is no way around having the chops, or not.

    Hiring an unqualified person because they fit a pigeon hole identity will not get work done

    Like

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