ence in real problems with real customers. These include Engineers Without
Borders, Junior Enterprise, and the
growing number of design competitions and coding academies. These activities attract students in droves. Some
engineering schools are collaborating
with them. However, these activities
are outside the engineering school
and do not promote engagement with
the curriculum inside the engineering
school. The New Engineer principles
offer a means to reform the culture of
mainstream engineering education so
that it too will engage students.
What does this mean for you? Can you
get these skill sets for yourself without
having to go to Olin, iFoundry, or Neumont, enroll in a more mainstream
engineering school that uses these
principles, or wait for reform of engineering education? Current education
of professionals emphasizes the analytical mind; how can you backfill design,
people, body, linguistic, and mindful
mind for yourself (and your kids)?
The current spread of design thinking beyond industrial design into the
business world is encouraging. It offers practical coursework that gives
experience in interviewing customers,
constructing linguistic frameworks
for customer domains, asking open-ended questions, listening with empathy, and working collaboratively (see
my December 2013 Communications
column). Working with a coach is one
way to accelerate your progress. Companies are making coaching services
available or you can hire a coach.
Coursework in emotional intelligence, leadership presence, and business mindfulness has been customized for engineers by Chade-Meng Tan
6 His course is a cost-effective
way to get started.
If you have an activist streak, you
can lobby education leaders. Because
they generate high value with students,
the New Engineer principles should be
of interest in universities struggling to
survive in increasingly challenging financial environments. You could share
the book or one of the manifestos mentioned here with your favorite dean or
If you are a teacher or educator, you
can transform your own teaching and
educational context with these principles. Olin offers regular courses in their
collaboratory (see http://www.olin.edu)
that teach personal and organizational
change for educators. You can also take
training as a coach (see http://www.
coachfederation.org), which will tur-bocharge your ability to offer your students New Engineer principles.
The principles were easier to ignore
in the 1990s when there were few working examples or financial challenges.
Today, we have at least three success
stories to imitate and an urgent financial need to upgrade the value of engineering and computing education.
Analytical skills are not enough. Let us
all work together to prepare for a future
world in which the professional’s heart
is as important as the mind.
1. Denning, P. Educating a new engineer. Commun. ACM
25, 12 (Dec. 1993), 83–97.
2. Flores, F. Conversations for Action and Other Collected
Essays. CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Platform, 2013; http://conversationsforaction.com.
3. Gardner, H. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple
Intelligences, 3rd ed. Basic Books, 1983.
4. Goldberg, D. and Somerville, M. A Whole New
Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering
Education. ThreeJoy, 2014.
5. Goldberg, D., Somerville, M., Pollock, M. and Garcia,
E. L. Big Beacon Manifesto, 2013; http://bigbeacon.org.
6. Tan, C. Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path
to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace).
7. Weise, M. and Christensen, C. Hire Education: Mastery,
Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution.
Clayton Christensen Institute, 2014; http://www.
Peter J. Denning ( email@example.com) is Distinguished
Professor of Computer Science and Director of the
Cebrowski Institute for information innovation at
the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, is
Editor of ACM Ubiquity, and is a past president of ACM.
The author’s views expressed here are not necessarily
those of his employer or the U.S. federal government.
Copyright held by author.
for coordinating, communicating, disclosing, building trust, and orchestrating productive moods.
˲ People. Ability to use emotional intelligence to read and listen to people
and interact effectively with them.
˲ Body. Ability to develop leadership
presence and blend with the movements and energies of other people.
˲ Mindful. Ability to be thoughtful
and reflective, learn from mistakes,
find meaning, and choose the observer.
This way of organizing the skill set is
inspired by Howard Gardner’s multiple
3 The “whole engineer” is
one who has integrated all these skill
sets into his or her own style.
They also designed the learning environment to produce these six skill
sets in the context of five “pillars”:
˲ Joy. Finding delight in engineering, science, solving problems, building artifacts, and in satisfying and interacting with clients.
˲ Trust. Earning the assessment that
you are competent, sincere, and reliable—you have people’s best interests
at heart and will not betray them.
˲ Courage. Willingness and emotional fortitude to take risks and deal
with the consequences.
˲ Openness. Willingness to listen to
others without judgment and to seek
out new ideas by interacting with people who do not think like you.
˲ Connectedness, collaboration, com‑
munity. Willingness to work with others, form communities, and mobilize
These five pillars might also be
called prevailing moods or dispositions (see my December 2012 Commu‑
nications column). Not only are all the
faculty practitioners in these moods
but also they cultivate dispositions for
these moods in the students. The students leave with more than a memory
of a wonderful school; they leave with
the dispositions to operate in these
ways in their own workplaces.
Goldberg and Somerville have
mined the bountiful literature of brain,
social, and organizational science for
pragmatic methods of transforming
education. Other engineering educators can use their methods of developing intrinsic motivation, coaching, culture, and change management.
There are many other efforts to engage students in engineering and sci-
The New Engineer
a means to reform
that it too will