Engineers Are Not Smart (The Huffington Post)

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The Huffington PostIn a Huffington Post opinion piece, Associate Professor of Engineering Vicki May writes that engineers’ widespread reputation for being smart might deter some students from pursuing an engineering degree. A number of students initially interested in the field change their minds if they get a bad grade in a science or math class or simply find the class difficult and decide they are not smart enough, she writes. But SAT scores and grades are not what defines a good engineer, she writes.

“Of course I want ‘smart’ students in my classes but not necessarily the ones who can memorize facts, pass tests, and regurgitate information,” she says. “I want students who are willing to think critically, try new things, fail and learn from their mistakes. Given the right support and with the right level of dedication anyone is capable of becoming an engineer; they may not get all As but anyone can learn and grow and succeed.

“It’s not ‘smart’ I’m looking for, but in (Stanford Professor Carol) Dweck’s words, students who are ‘hard working, creative, and resilient in the face of failure.’ That’s what makes truly great engineers. Maybe more students would stick with engineering if they realized that failure is part of getting there.”

May is a Dartmouth Public Voices fellow.

Read the full opinion piece, published 7/22/14 by The Huffington Post.