Stephen Fleming, a former Venture Capitalist, who now handles commercialization of intellectual property for Georgia Tech (and has done more to create jobs in Georgia than the entire General Assembly in my opinion), penned a good blog post on UGA’s expressed interest in creating an engineering program.
Campus rivalry aside, Fleming makes the case that the money could be best spent elsewhere. More funding for K-12 Math and Science, expanding the Georgia Technical College System, or expanding the instructional facilities at Georgia Tech, would cost a fraction of the tens of millions of dollars it would cost to create an engineering program from scratch in Athens.
In addition, unless UGA planned to drastically lower its admission standards, it wouldn’t be admitting a whole lot more Georgia High School graduates than GaTech already does.
At a time when the Georgia budget is stretched so thin, is it really worth spending millions of dollars to boost the prestige of a University President?
Finally, he takes aim at the You-Must-Have-A-College-Degree-To-Succeed myth, and makes the case for more technical education:
If you’re 18 years old and have no idea what you want to do with your life… major in engineering! I don’t really care what branch of engineering. The interesting stuff happens at the edges, anyhow (merging electrical engineering with biomedical engineering leads to implantable heart monitors, etc.). But, engineering remains rigorous, engineering remains grounded in reality, and you can’t gobbledygook your way to an engineering degree. If you get the design wrong, or flub the calculations, the bridge will fall down, and not all the neo-Marxist deconstructionist twaddle in the world will change that.
Engineering will kick your butt, but you will learn something… and you’ll learn how to learn. (Something that cannot be said for the earnest young undergraduate who can regurgitate the entire works of Jacques Derrida, but whom I wouldn’t hire as night watchman in a cement factory.) And that will set you up for a lifetime of fulfilling and successful work, whether you choose to continue in engineering, or switch to medicine, or law, or farming, or building electric guitars.