You are on page 1of 2

WHAT TERMAN SAYS

Joseph Stanovsky PhD Introduction Frederick Terman’s father, a professor at Stanford University, had a long and illustrious career in psychology. It was Terman’s father who introduced the French IQ test developed by Dr Binet in France. In the US that test is the Stanford-Binet IQ test. Dr Frederick Terman was an engineering student at Stanford, then a member of the engineering faculty and then Dean of Engineering at Stanford University. Dr Frederick Terman was Provost at SMU after retiring from Stanford. Dr Terman developed a reseach activity about students of engineering and published his results in The Journal of Engineering Education in Feb. 1969. The purpose of Terman’s research is described in “What Terman Says.”
WHAT TERMAN SAYS In a memorable paper about students in engineering, Frederick E. Terman says that he discovered common student traits, features about the make-up of classes, but most importantly he concluded that there was an almost fixed relationship between the number of male students graduating yearly in engineering and the number of male students graduating in all disciplines at schools in every state. His paper was published in 1969 (His research should be continued). ◊Terman says: students majoring in engineering attend classes with other engineering students at the sophomore level and higher, but only occasionally with students from other disciplines, and that students from other disciplines are never present in any courses in engineering. Engineering students attend chemistry, physics and mathematics courses with students majoring in those fields, but never in classes with students majoring in the liberal arts, business or education. ◊◊Terman says: that practically every student who completed a baccalaureate degree in engineering says he was serious about a career in engineering before he finished high school. ◊◊◊Terman says: that universities with space available for more students, ‘an under-utilized’ facility, can not increase the number graduating because the supply of undergraduate students in engineering is severely limited. ◊◊◊◊Terman says: the supply of undergraduate engineering students available to universities can not and will not increase even if high school students are encouraged to attend seminars about careers in engineering. Unfortunately, these seminars are more often advertisements than they are an educational forum. These seminars tend to appeal to the base instincts of students. In the seminar content there is information about employment opportunities and the initial salaries offered. ◊◊◊◊◊Terman says: perhaps the most unusual observation revealed is that in which the number of male engineering graduates represented one-sixth of the total number of men awarded all baccalaureate degrees. Specifically, the range was 1/8<1/6<1/5 and 1/6<1/9<1/8, fractions that applied to large states with many colleges of engineering and smaller states with few schools. ◊◊◊◊◊◊Terman says: a student group that had been noted as ‘under-represented’ might be admitted as a student of engineering in the future. But first, these students must complete rigorous courses in mathematics, physics, biology and the language arts beginning at the sixth grade and continue through high school. They must avoid all of the ‘simpler-alternative’ courses available, and they must rank in the upper seven percent of their high school graduating class. Engineering education has changed considerably since 1969, but students continue to have little contact with students in the liberal arts, education and business administration; students in these disciplines typically enroll in courses inferior to those required of majors in physics or chemistry or mathematics. What has changed is the emphasis on theoretical applications rather than practical solutions, and the extensive use of computational methods and models. Instead of requiring professional experience, candidates seeking faculty appointments must have graduate degrees in engineering. Thus, few faculty have experience in the practice of engineering. New specializations have also been introduced into the traditional engineering departments. One of the largest of these is computer science. Students in this department alone will skew Terman’s results. by

-1-

WHAT TERMAN SAYS
Te rman’s research is not continued, it will not be possible to know if the traits common to students of engineering have changed, if they apply to women and minorities, if the pool of engineering students is larger now that it was before 1969, or if colleges of engineering have reduced the degree of course difficulty. Today there are many stories known only to faculty and administrators about students that do not fit Terman’s profile of a typical student but have been admitted to engineering courses by admistrative fiat. One class member, by special admission, cried for help just three weeks into a statics class. The cry for help came after the professor announces the first examination. She waits for the class to leave and then approaches the professor. She confesses that she had not done any of the assignments or reading and thus was not prepared for a test. Then coyly asks: “what are all those sines and cosines you keep talking about?” Obviously, engineering students should be qualified. Qualified students are admitted.

ROTATING WHEELS [Lagniappe] The wheel shown, of radius R, might be attached to an automobile, bicycle or wagon. But because the velocity of a roadway is always zero, and if this wheel rolls without slipping, the center of rotation of the wheel is the contact point between wheel and roadway, and not the axle where the wheel is attached to the automobile, bicycle or wagon. The center of rotation is a point on the wheel where the velocity is zero at a particular instant. In a very short interval of time, the point on the wheel that was in contact with the roadway is replaced by a new point on the wheel. This process repeats for particles on the circumference of the wheel until you arrive at your destination.

⊕ Roadway

Axle R Center of rotation

∆s = R ∆ϕ ∆ϕ

∆s = R ∆ϕ ∆s/∆t = R ∆ϕ/∆t v = -R ω 1 3

THOMAS TREDGOLD (1788-1829) [Lagniappe] In Article [197] Todhunter and Pearson review an 1822 book: Thomas Tredgold’s “A Practical Essay on the Strength of Cast Iron.” In that review they say that “Tredgold exhibits here as in his Treatise on Carpentry the same ignorance of theoretical elasticity, and seems to be acquainted only with the work of Thomas Young. A footnote in his preface is so characteristic that it deserves reproduction: “I have rejected Fluxions in consequence of the very obscure manner in which its principles have been explained by the writers I have consulted on the subject. I cannot reconcile the idea of one of the terms of a proportion vanishing for the purpose of obtaining a correct result; it is not, it cannot be good reasoning; though from other principles I am aware that the conclusions obtained are correct. ....” There is more to their review, but omitted here. Todhunter and Pearson closed article [197] with: “Such is the scientific capacity of the man whose works remained for years the standard text-books of English engineers!”

ROBERT HOOKE (1635-1702) [Lagniappe] In “A History of The Theory of Elasticity and of the Strength of Materials,” in Art. 7 of vol 1, 1886, Todhunter and Pearson say: “The discovery apparently of the modern conception of elasticity seems due to Robert Hooke,” was developed 18 years before De potentiˆ a restitutiva, London 1678.

-2-