I'm a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Maryland graduating in just two weeks with my BS. I learned a lot in my undergraduate education, but my experience could have been a lot better.
It breaks my heart that I spent thousands of hours completing thermo- and fluid- dynamic equations by hand. These are skills that took great amounts of time and energy to learn. They are also skills that I will never again use.
Of course, knowing the core concepts in vitally important. Knowing the relationships between variables and the scientific principles upon which they are built are so, so important.
What's not important, however, is forcing students to bang out pages upon pages of complex mathematical equations. This is mere legwork that is no longer needed thanks to the myriad of engineering software applications and websites available today.
Instead of learning how to use all of those great modern tools, we waste time completing calculations by hand.
Instead of learning how to use all of the incredible analytical features in the latest release of SolidWorks, we spend 30 hours per week solving polynomial equations using techniques created before the internet.
Instead of learning how to use the latest 3-d modeling applications, we tediously and painstakingly graph systems by hand.
Instead of learning how to do something the fast new way, we teach students the old and slow way. This is maddening.
If we spent all of that time and energy teaching students how to use industry software, we would have lower unemployment, lower training periods for new hires, and a more productive workforce and economy.
I interned at an engineering design firm this summer. Everyone in the industry agrees. We should teach the principles and the latest and greatest tools; little of use lies in between.
Students are paying enormous amounts of money to be taught techniques that are not valued in the job market. At the same time, they are left to learn relevant software on their own accord. We need to remove the bloated and archaic hand calculations that lie between what our education does now and what it should be doing.