Perspective Education

Engineering a balance

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Liberal education prepares you to examine ideas from multiple points of view, solve problems, adapt, and collaborate. By merging multiple disciplines of study, liberal education courses expose engineers to a wide range of subjects, encouraging them to think outside a narrow focus and contribute with more original solutions using design thinking, creativity and critical analysing methods. It is a highly sought-after skill-set in modern workplace dynamics. But why?

Today, many solutions today require STEM education but tackling some of the most significant issues requires the ability to think critically and consider human contexts. Therefore Humanities and Social Sciences are as vital to innovation as engineering and science.

Art of communication

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, believed that the key to good design is a combination of empathy and knowledge of the arts and humanities. A modern corporate engineer needs to be an effective communicator to get his/her ideas across various levels and also needs to be user-centric in his/her viewpoint. Never has it been more difficult to predict what life will be like over the next decade, or what job roles are going to be in demand. Careers we haven’t yet thought of could emerge and the current roles are likely to be transformed. According to a study by Dell and IFTF, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. Therefore, engineers need an education that empowers and allows them to create and collaborate in a rapidly changing society and economy.

This broad knowledge of the wider world will prepare them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. A liberal education background will also help them develop a sense of social responsibility as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills, such as communication, analytics, problem-solving abilities, and the ability to apply it in real-world settings. Therefore, a mix of technical knowledge with artistic and social sensibilities is a key requirement in today’s age.

Moreover, employers consistently want to hire engineers who have a broad knowledge base and can work together to solve problems, debate, communicate, and think critically. In a fast-paced world, engineers often fail to analyse situations deeply and their personal life is also affected by the rat race. Liberal education is the first step to strike that balance.

While a technical education gives engineers the knowledge to make a livelihood, a liberal education will provide them with the skills to go beyond the constraints of a regular job and turn them into lifelong learners. A liberal studies background will also make them more adaptable, flexible, and well-equipped to handle career changes and shifts in the job market.

The writer is Founder, DALHAM Learning

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 6:27:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/why-liberal-education-is-the-need-of-the-hour-for-engineers/article33168928.ece

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