A mechanical engineering professor at Michigan State University says “social justice warriors” are destroying the field because they’re injecting social issues where they don’t belong.
Indrek Wichman, who has taught engineering for more than 30 years, told Campus Reform that social issues have “no place in a technical science-based education” where individuals should be judged by their merit.
“The door to engineering is open to everyone, just as the floor of the basketball court is open to everyone, or applying to the [Navy] SEALS is open to everyone,” he said. “The question then is, are you good enough?”
Mr. Wichman penned an essay about the issue last week, arguing that a science-based education should be “blind.”
“Engineering does not care about your color, sexual orientation, or your other personal and private attributes. All it takes to succeed is to do the work well,” he wrote. “Even as an undergraduate many years ago, my engineering classmates and I noticed that fact, and we were proud to have a major that valued only the quality of one’s work. In that sense, engineering was like athletics, or music, or the military: there were strict and impersonal standards.
Mr. Wichman lamented that “a phalanx of social justice warriors, ideologues, egalitarians, and opportunistic careerists has ensconced itself in America’s college and universities. The destruction they have caused in the humanities and social sciences has now reached to engineering.”
Mr. Wichman cited Purdue University’s recent appointment of School of Engineering Education Dean Donna Riley, who stated in her former bio at Smith College that she sought 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.”
Mr. Wichman took issue with two classes formerly taught by Ms. Riley at Smith College, which tackled issues like globalization, capitalism, feminism and “racist and colonialist projects in science.”
Mr. Wichman said those issues serve as a distraction to fact-based science and should be left out.
“Engineering education’s basic assumption is that engineering will be improved if the profession is crafted to be more diverse, but that is completely untested,” he wrote. “In the universe I live in, engineering is for those who want to and can be engineers. It’s not for everybody and there is no reason to believe that aptitude for engineering is evenly distributed.
“Nobody wants to see an uncoordinated doofus on the NBA basketball court simply to add ‘diversity,’ ” Mr. Wichman said. “We pay to see top-notch talent compete for victory. We should apply the same standards to engineering and stop pretending that we can ‘game’ our wonderful profession so that anyone can succeed.”
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