Engineering and Terrorism

The article to which I’m responding, “Does Engineering Education Breed Terrorists?” can be found at http://chronicle.com/article/Does-Engineering-Education/235800.

If the title of my Blog (Transportation Engineering) is not obvious, I’m a PhD student studying transportation engineering.  According to a current study of the causes of terrorism, it’s been claimed that the majority of known terrorists have studied engineering.  Based on this random coincidence, apparently there’s a question of whether “… engineering programs select a certain kind of person … who is predisposed toward acts of terror,” and whether engineering programs incite students to have extremist views.  First, as much as I’d like to be offended, I’m not, but I’d interested in knowing what personal biases have not been considered by those conducting these studies.

However, the study considered “500 Islamist extremists”.  Of the 500, 207 could have their college degrees determined.  The statistics arising from these 207 showed that “45% had studied engineering”.  In the prior paragraph, I stated that I’m not upset by the claim they’re proposing, however, a number of replies to this study by a majority of engineering professionals were that of disgust and anger.  Some asked the very question I asked, are there personal feelings toward engineers that the authors of this study were harboring?  However, the fact is, (as one reply stated) people turn to terrorism for a variety of reasons.  Its more favorable to consider the possibility that terrorists favor recruiting engineers due to an engineer’s “problem-solving abilities and technical skills”.  If this likely possibility is true, then a majority of terrorists will having engineering backgrounds.

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