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Palfinger August 2022

Depth versus width of engineering courses.

One of the issues which was discussed during the 2012 International Conference on the Education and Professional Development of Engineers in the Maritime industry was depth versus width of engineering courses.

There are more and more specialist options that undergraduates can take. For example within Naval Architecture you can now specialise in small boat design, offshore engineering, subsea engineering, pipeline engineering offshore renewable energy, etc. What types of engineers does industry really want? For the ancient Greeks philosophers it was possible to study all subjects; art, music, mathematics, natural science, etc. In the 19th century it was still possible for engineers to cover many different fields. Brunel was involved in railway, bridge and ship design. Even the father of modern hydrodynamics William Froude also worked on designing agricultural equipment, measurement instrumentation, railways lines and even produced a paper on the “soaring of birds”

However, are large engineering projects today so complex that it is impossible to anyone to totally understand the whole process? Is the best that that can be hoped for is a project manager/systems engineer with a broad understanding of the various engineering disciples who managing a team of specialist engineers?

Whether undergraduate or graduate, what are your views?

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