Apr 152017

And the new dark age begins:

Purdue announces new head for School of Engineering Education

And who is this? Let’s check out her bio (from her previous stint at Smith College):

My scholarship currently focuses on applying liberative pedagogies in engineering education, leveraging best practices from women’s studies and ethnic studies to engage students in creating a democratic classroom that encourages all voices. In 2005 I received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to support this work, which includes developing, implementing, and assessing curricular and pedagogical innovations based on liberative pedagogies and student input at Smith, and understanding how students at Smith conceptualize their identities as engineers. I seek as an engineering educator to be part of a paradigm shift that these pedagogies demand, repositioning concerns about diversity in science and engineering from superficial measures of equity as headcounts, to addressing justice and the genuine engagement of all students as core educational challenges.

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.

In EGR 330 (Engineering and Global Development), we critically evaluate past and current trends in appropriate and sustainable technology. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism and colonialism, and the role technology plays in movements that counter these forces. Gender is a key thread running through the course in examining issues of water supply and quality, food production and energy.

In EGR 205 (Science, Technology and Ethics), we consider questions such as who decides how science and engineering are done, who can participate in the scientific enterprise and what problems are legitimately addressed within these disciplines and professions. We take up racist and colonialist projects in science, as well as the role of technology, culture and economic systems in the drive toward bigger, faster, cheaper and more automated production of goods. A course theme around technology and control provides for exploration of military, information, reproductive and environmental applications. Using readings from philosophy, science and technology studies, and feminist and postcolonial science studies, we explore these topics and encounter new models of science and engineering that are responsive to ethical concerns.


A few things:

  1. “Democratic classrooms that encourage all voices:” this is utterly inappropriate in engineering. Is it because democracy is wrong? No… it’s because some *people* are wrong. In engineering there are *clear* wrong answers. There’s no “you tried” award if there’s a “your bridge collapsed under normal loading.” With a “democratic classroom” that “encourages all voices,” the students trying to get an actual education will have to share time with the fricken’ idiot who thinks that getting a shaman to bless the bridge, or building not out of steel but some sacred rubber tree, or waving magic crystals over forming stress cracks are all cromulent ideas.
  2. “uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups,” is, I suppose, fine if your interest in engineering is the *history* of engineering… but it’s utterly meaningless if your interest in engineering is, y’know, engineering. It’s been a bit of a while since I got my degree, but as memory serves, we spent approximatley zero time on describing the peronal travails of the various people who discovered or invented the little bits of science, technology and math that we used. In aeronautics we learned about Bernoulli’s Theorem… because it’s important and relevant. What did we learn about Bernoulli the man? Doodly squat. Because WHO CARES. Whether he was a asexual autistic Italian banker, or  lesbian Swiss cheesemaker makes absolutely no difference to the theorem itself. E=mc^2, after all, whether Einstein was German or Austrian or Swiss or Japanese, white or black, Jewish or Hindu.
  3. “Womens Studies/Ethnic studies/Colonialism:” you see any of that and you know you’re in for an idiot harangue from someone who cares far more about who did something than what that something actually was.

The reasoning behind this hire seems straightforward enough to suss out. STEM fields are overwhelmingly dominated by white and Asian males; females and males Of Some Other Color are under represented. And this has become a political cause among the shouting set in recent years, because STEM graduates *tend* to make pretty good incomes (present company sadly excluded) because STEM fields are, compared to libarts, actually useful to society. So, fine, bring in more women and People Of Some Non-White Color in the the STEM classrooms. The more the merrier! But where this is a screwup is that the process isn’t to convince women to do the hard work and take the math and engineering courses… they’re trying to water down STEM to where it’s palatable to the type of person who thinks that womens or ethnic studies courses are actually a good idea.

 Posted by at 3:20 pm
  • Bob

    I keep telling everybody we’re doomed but nobody believes me.

    • Michael the Somewhat Civilized

      Maybe someone will listen to you when they start to understand that things really have to be done by humans. Riley’s mindset reveals to me a conviction that nothing ever needs to be altered in order — or maintained — to have her perfect world that is hostile to those not like her.

  • Jjak

    Reminds me of this article:

    Cell phones, robots, mesh nets, remote imaging, data mining, stealth, invisible lethal chemicals, and contagious diseases exist cheek by jowl with ox-drawn carts, subsistence agriculture, illiteracy, and fanaticism around Mosul and in other global cities. You hear the chants in the video. “Let the missile hit the tank. Let the missile hit the tank.” Epistemologically they are found objects like the Palantir or mithril coat described in The Lord of the Rings, things made in the deeps of time by wizards still rumored to exist, some say in America, Europe, or Asia for the wizards are so few in proportion to the planetary billions that most people will never meet one personally.

    • Peter Hanely

      Some of us aspire to be among the circle of those wizards. 😉

  • Nick Gaston

    Maybe they should just supplement the Progressivalist Engineering courses with mandatory readings from the Little Red Book…

    I mean, ’cause clearly, the real winner that’s going to come out of this is China.

  • BIll H

    STEM ended when, in many places, it became STEAM – adding “Arts”

  • becida

    I thought engineering was about building things…

    • Scottlowther

      How terribly western-centric and cis-heteronormative of you…

      • publiusr

        The thing is–they would hate FDR if he lived today.

        The President that many lefties love the most was probably the least green President we ever had.

        Progressivism at that time was “chop this down–dig that up–dredge this river, drain that swamp.”

        Had the Cabot/Lodge type blue-blood Republicans of that time been in office–the ironic thing is that the wetlands would have been better off–but the populace worse off. No TVA.

        Some days I think that libertarians don’t appreciate infrastructure any more than greens do–because it has become invisible to us. On the daily show, they had some person on from a school of “civil ‘and’ environmental” something or other.

        It’s a war against engineers. We are an engineering species–it is what we do. Other animals have language, tools–but we are the one species that–instead of adapting to the environment–we adapt the environment to our wishes–so the very thing that defines who we are is what they want to damn us for–and I will not cut off my opposable thumb. or kneecap myself so as to lose my upright and bipedal stance just to roll back into the cave with Alley Oop or Al Gore

        Had FDR been around today–he’d been the object of the greens–you know they would find some species of hair-lipped two anused snail darter that had to go on some list and why? Because it has a red spot above one eyebrow instead of a green spot behind the other.

        The dinos died because they didn’t have industry. Let these fools have their way–and we will be next.

        To Bill Nye and Neil de Grasse Tyson.

        The Greens aren’t your friends. They’ll take the sport utes first–but they will come for your rockets later–after all–spaceflight is such a male penetrative act–and we can’t have that now–can we? Snip snip.

  • xvdougl

    “best practices from women’s studies and ethnic studies” wouldn’t the best practice be not wasting time studying that bullshit?

  • allen

    it looks like an exercise in “what buzzwords do I need to add to get this job?”

  • I guess this is what you come up with when you can’t do math.

    • publiusr

      OK–so I want someone in environmental studies from Shark Tank. You go after mine–I go after yours.

  • CaptainNed

    Smith College. That was all you needed to say. A school so brain-dead that their 1975 100th Anniversary t-shirt (and you could still see them circa 1981 when I went to college, at this point usually worn by guys screwing Smith women) said:

    Smith College: 100 years of women in interesting positions.

  • Herp McDerp

    I think this also is yet another example of Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy in action:

    … in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

    • Retro Rockets

      From a guy IowaHawk on twitter

      1. Identify a respected institution.
      2. kill it.
      3. gut it.
      4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect

  • Thalesourus

    Stop with the misogyny! Women have a place in engineering. Mainly in test and engineering management. They will fulfill quotas set by either the government or idiot digit robber barons who are following the social myths of the day – the same way Henry Ford did when he thought the Jews were going to try and take over. Women who can actually analyze, design and do research don’t need a leg up and already are doing fine. The mediocre rest will be in jobs they can do, replacing males for the same job because women make up a majority of the electorate and are operating as a defacto sex based union.

  • Guest Ghost

    I thought Purdue was supposed to be a really good school?

  • Chris

    As soon as you wrote “Her Bio” we all knew where this was headed. The number of females qualified to run an engineering program at a prestigious (Well formerly prestigious) university approaches zero. We all know it true, even if we don’t say it.