Engineering vs. Teaching

So often, as an engineer in academia, I hear about the tension between research and teaching.  In most cases, it appears that professors tend to fall into either the role of teacher or researcher, and then they spend almost all of their time in this single role.  Ironically, engineering is a discipline that commonly finds ways to meet multiple objectives without compromise.  For instance, does anyone know of a phone, that also takes pictures, and lets you watch youtube videos?  Or for a more esoteric example, how about an alternative to CFCs (that aerosol that contributed to the hole in the ozone layer) that would be effective and economical (this solution worked out so well, that most non-engineers don’t even think about it)?  And even when it is not possible to meet every objective, engineers are taught to compromise, except we tend to use the word optimize.  And when we are trying to optimize a scenario, it is not typical that a solution involves all of one thing and none of another.  Therefore, I am proposing that the optimal role, as an engineer in academia, will involve a healthy amount of both teaching and research.

1 thought on “Engineering vs. Teaching

  1. I think your objective function decides the optimal solution here.. In some cases I have experienced a person may be good in research but not a good teacher.. of-course one can improve, but it again depends on personal interest. At the same time one may be more oriented towards teaching. So there may not be a good solution always but still it may be optimized, due to lack of infrastructure (here it is teachers).

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