Academic Astronomy Not Yet Endangered

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mikemarotta
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Location: Austin, Texas, USA
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Academic Astronomy Not Yet Endangered

Post by mikemarotta »

I am currently writing textbooks for a series of classes in factory and automation maintenance. This is for our local community college, an American system after high school and sometimes but not necessarily leading to university. Often, they train technicians in a wide range of fields including healthcare, manufacturing, and computers. One of the textbooks I got from our local library took me to a name that I recognized from my own community college years in the 1970s. It seems that he went on to bigger things. He is a member of his local astronomy club, in fact. I found this paper he wrote on having to train engineering students who have absolutely no experience in hands-on learning.
"... our experience is that many students entering electrical and computer engineering (ECE) undergraduate programs lack basic skills and knowledge that were once taken for granted by instructors, e.g. how to use hand tools, how to solder, and the use and function of basic electronic components. Indeed, it seems that the number of students attracted to the ECE discipline by working on radios, automobiles, electronic kits, etc. before entering college is steadily decreasing. Now, many students have never even built the simplest electronic circuit and yet they have chosen to pursue an ECE degree. Thus ECE programs are expected to prepare students from the ground up. The result is that many students often have no passion for ECE and thus lack the motivation needed to complete the difficult pre-engineering curriculum. Indeed, some students discover much too late that engineering is not a good fit for them and still attempt to complete the degree given their enormous investment of time and money. The end results are low retention rates and too many underachieving students."

"Benefits of a Hands-On Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering" by Frank L. Severance, Maria Suchowski, and Damon A. Miller; Western Michigan University. Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education.
I have yet to meet an astronomer who did not begin with a telescope in the backyard.
Michael E. Marotta
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mike49mercury@gmail.com
brian livesey
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Re: Academic Astronomy Not Yet Endangered

Post by brian livesey »

Learning dexterity, as practical engineering on the factory floor demands, has given some people the patience and skills to make their own telescopes, including the optics.
There are some superb amateur-constructed ‘scopes out there, not only for the quality of their optics, but for being aesthetically pleasing in their overall design.
In an age of off-the-shelve instant products, long live the art of the creative DIYer.
brian
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