Tag Archive for: A Whole New Engineer


Big Boys Don’t Cry

The 21st century transformation of education is profoundly emotional, but why is “emotion” such an uncomfortable subject?:

The idea that we might acknowledge emotion directly in education runs up agains a taboo for men (in many cultures).  From an early age, men are urged to suppress their unhappiness, sadness, or other negative emotion that leads to the emotional display of crying.  Sometimes this is done with understanding and concern, but oftentimes boys are shamed if they do cry, and the shame continues until they stop.

Read more, here.

Jazz & 21st Century Learning

David Goldberg shares how learning jazz guitar has shown him new ways to best empower students to learn:

Whereas many music sites and teachers treat their students as largely unmotivated and incompetent, Jimmy trusts that students who come to his site are motivated and competent to take on substantial challenges on their own.

Find out more, here.

Six Minds and Petroleum Technology

The Journal of Petroleum Technology recently published a piece by David Goldberg on how the Six Minds of a Whole New Engineer can be applied to the petroleum industry:

Petroleum engineers have played a pivotal role in the rise of the modern engineer, and they can once again join hands to rejuvenate their own discipline and engineering as a thriving whole.

Read the full article, here.

Studies of Expert Engineers Show Us Why Engineering Education Needs to Change

Misunderstandings about what it means to be an engineer are outlined in James Trevelyan’s “The Making of an Expert Engineer”— a book based on extensive studies of several hundred engineers in four countries, several of them true experts in their own domains.

An unfortunate reality exposed by this research is that engineering education has become almost completely divorced from practice:

The separation of practice from the curriculum allows students to develop many misunderstandings, partly because real stories about practice are absent, and partly because of myths that are repeated without being questioned or critically examined.

Learn more about these misconceptions, here.

The Coming Revolution

Olin College admissions officer Grant Hooton reviewed Dave Goldberg and Mark Somerville’s A Whole New Engineer.

The purpose of the book is to give insight on how to bring about change successfully, and explain and justify the necessary changes. These are captured in the five pillars of education transformation: ‘joy,’ ‘trust,’ ‘courage,’ ‘openness,’ and ‘connectedness, collaboration, and community.’ The authors propose that letting these pillars guide our instruction, we will produce the kinds of constructive education experiences that are necessary for tomorrow’s engineer. This should not be surprising to Oliners, because we live and breathe these pillars in all aspects of our lives.

Read more of Hooton’s thoughts, here.

Six Minds of the Whole New Engineer

David Goldberg and Mark Somerville’s A Whole New Engineer outlines the challenges facing engineering today and offers solutions on how to adapt to 21st century needs.

Today’s civil engineer increasingly needs to combine the leadership spirit of the profession’s pioneering days in the 1800s with today’s technical and social knowledge and know-how. This situation calls on today’s civil engineers to be more broadly educated and capable than in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when a narrower kind of training and practice were the norm.

What are the Six Minds? Learn more here.

A Whole New Engineer Ready for Pre-Order on Amazon & 800-CEO-READ

The book, A Whole New Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education is available for pre-order on Amazon or for bulk orders at  800CEOread.com.

  • Amazon: Pre-order here.
  • 800-CEO-Read: Bulk-order here

See the link here about the making of the book (here), a press release from Olin College (here), and an early review of the book by Gary Bertoline at Purdue University (here).  

For more information about the book write to Dave Goldberg (deg@threejoy.com).

Journey to the emotional floor of A Whole New Engineer

Mark Somerville and I are wrapping up production on our book A Whole New Engineer: A Surprising Emotional Journey (see more here), and I was reflecting on large writing projects such as books and how easy it is to underestimate the amount of work required and the amount of learning that goes on in writing one.  The tendency is to think, “This will be easy. I’ll just write down what I know about subject X and it will be good.”  Of course, you start the project, and find that (a) you didn’t know as much as you thought you did, and (b) you had a lot of learning and figuring out to get to the end.  Of course, some of this is the human tendency to underestimate difficulty and overestimate capacity as pointed out in The Invisible Gorilla and related research.  If we were more realistic about the scope of such projects, few would start them.

This time, however, with A Whole New Engineer, the misestimation took on an a different flavor.  Yes, I both underestimated the task complexity and learning required, but this time I also missed the deeper nature of the task.  In the past, what started as largely a textbook or monograph project turned out that way.  This time, I thought Mark and I were writing a how-to manual on engineering education reform with some personal anecdotes, but the deeper nature of the project didn’t reveal itself until we were well into the project.

And the subtitle, A Surprising Emotional Journey, starts to characterize the book we found inside of us.  As we started to tell the stories of what happened at Olin (www.olin.edu) and iFoundry (www.ifoundry.illinois.edu), we started to recognize that the usual rational code words used to describe educational reform (content, curriculum, pedagogy, learning outcomes, active learning, project-based learning, etc., etc.) were inadequate to describe the underlying experience of authentic reform.

Instead, we needed to admit that the secret sauce to both efforts was profoundly emotional in nature and that words like “trust,” “courage,” “joy,” “connection,” and “openness” (the pillars of Chapter 5) were necessary to convey and understand the experience.  And this was excruciatingly hard for a couple of engineers to grok, but once we did, we knew there was no going back.  Those distinctions sounded like were talking about the underlying essence of authentic reform in foundational terms in a way that previous descriptions lacked.

And once we reached the emotional floor of the enterprise, we recognized that many of our colleagues would have the same difficulty we originally had in accepting and understanding this emotional language, that the natural tendency would be to reject these terms as “too soft” or “insufficiently rigorous” and to retreat to easy and safe words like “content,” “pedagogy,” “X learning (where X = active, experiential, project-based, etc.).  Nevertheless, once the journey had come to this place, we knew that our job was to tell the travelogue as we had experienced it, as we had felt it.

And we hope that this is one of the lasting contributions of the book: to shift a discussion that continues to be held in largely rational terms to one that can unapologetically use the language of emotion in ways that contribute to a more effective and holistic educational system.

A Whole New Engineer: A Surprising Emotional Journey will be ready in Fall 2014.  Keep an eye on www.bigbeacon.org/book on twitter @deg511, @threejoy, and @bigbeacon, or write to me at deg@threejoy.com or deg@bigbeacon.org about hosting book-related talks, workshops, and events.