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Teaching Mechnical Engineering in iMechanica is an Engineering topic or an Education one, or even a Management Strategy

shengke zhi's picture

To Henry and All,

To Henry and All,Regarding to Henry's distinguish idea about Teaching Mechanics in iMechanica, I am wondering is it an Mechanical topic or an Education one, or even a Management Strategy? The same phenomenon does not only exist in Mechanics education but also in all engineering fields.   

Why we struggle Engineering teaching?

It is significantly shown that teaching Engineering is less interesting to most of students. Most of them believe they don’t need engineering in their lives, because they can purchase everything in shops and eBay. However, they forget all the things are designed and produced by engineers, who survive our planet a lot. Similarly as other subjects which seem more interesting to students, like Business, Politics, Medical etc, if students have motivation to learn, nobody can stop them. That could be a sociology question whether the engineering career can afford people’s requirements in the future. Normally, an engineer is paid less than businessman, doctors, and lectures in the same level. Students may think spending money and time to learn knowledge today is going to pay for their lives in the future. In that case, knowledge is not knowledge, it is a production. If they can’t get the enough benefits, why they need to buy it?

Based on above discussion, assuming we accept knowledge, such as engineering theory, is a production, what is the market, who are Rivals, and what are promotions?

What is the Engineering Science market?

It is disclosed student. Is it all? Of course not. The potential market is also including the engineers, the people who would like to know more about it etc. Does nowadays engineering education cover all the markets? It is hardly to achieve, but some universities and institutions approximately achieve. Undoubtedly, students are the major market. An “AIDA” step tracks this behavior.

A=Attraction, the engineering knowledge is attracting students to pay attentions;

I=Interesting, when they see the outline of engineering, they are interested in this subject;

D=Desire, It is easy to have a desire to understand more about their interesting topics;

A=Action, finally, students can take action to learn it.

We now focus on their “action” step, saying fewer students learn engineering. Why not reverse back to first two steps? Do we give students more attracting sights? Do we make them interested in engineering?

When we do business, we understand that we have to bring up the market first, run this market, and finally look after this market. During the business period, we need to know the rivals in this market.

Who are Rivals?

Somebody says it may be other subjects, like music, arts, etc. Somebody says games and funny stuff. Somebody says business. Thousands of people have thousands of idea. In my view the rivals for lectures and professors in universities and institutions are other education channels such as libraries, internet and multimedia. Why are they? Because students can get the same engineering knowledge from other channels rather than only sitting in class room and listening to the talks.

It is appeared that the theories in engineering are already existed. We hardly know some new engineering theories have been discovered nowadays. But we do know more inventions are produced based on established theories. It seems that if the people who are interested in engineering get existing knowledge through whatever channel, they can try to make invention. In that case, some students from original few students who are interesting in engineering decide to learn by themselves or other channels rather than from lectures. That makes engineering students fewer.

That’s the reason that we have to use modern technologies to attract students in engineering. That’s could be easy to understand why lectures use multimedia ways to distribute engineering knowledge.

Henry begins a new way which knowledge is delivered by an existing website and call for participation from locally and internationally. The unique advantage is that it is an open study. The more people involved, the better effect it has.  The optional open new channel is established for engineering students. That’s a new way that Henry makes rivals to be partners to achieve his goal.

What are promotion?

Henry has around 170 students. He does not need to promote it at all. He could only summarize the regulation for students and push them to do it in such way. How to promote this education way to other universities? The only way maybe see the effect of Henry’s challenge. If he success, some people maybe track it.

However, if we make the university education join this new channel, it seems superb. Students will not be separated by different subjects. All of them can access a new channel which is built up by lectures and internet. They can choose whatever they like to join in and learn as much as they can. After a semester, the score is automatically come out. When they get enough credits, they can apply for the promotion, such as for a degree, master and even a PhD. I believe this thing happened in 2000 years ago in Greece and China. One intelligent supervised tens of students in a village without subject limitation. The students could ask as many questions as they can, even cross subjects. Though the time flies thousands of years and the education channels changes several times, the aim is still there.


Based on above brainstorm, do you think Henry’s mechanics teaching is an Engineering question? Of course not. It is like an Education question. However, for how to shape this system it is more like a Management one. As a result, I believe it is a Business question if we believe knowledge is a production which we can provide to our customers—students. The roles can be presented as:


Channel—classroom, internet, library

Consultancy—lectures and tutors

Market—people who require knowledge


Consequently, one more question is coming out: Who is going to develop our production? Scientists, intelligent or even customers?


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