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VOA慢速英语:工程师们是怎样炼成的,他们平时都做些什么

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What Engineers Do, and How They Learn

Hello, and welcome to As It Is from VOA LearningEnglish.

I’m Christopher Cruise in Washington.

Today on the program, we explore the complex andimportant world of engineering -- how people usescience to solve problems or invent new things.

“Well I believe real engineers need to engineer things,need to envision what has never been, and to buildthings every semester.”

We sent VOA Learning English Reporter Karen Leggettout to live in the engineering world. Over the past fewmonths she interviewed officials at the National Academy of Sciences, anengineer at the U.S. Geological Survey, engineering educators and anengineering professor in India, among others. She learned how engineeringstudents are being taught. Believe it or not, some of them are readingliterature to help them learn how to become better engineers.

Now, back from the world of engineering, here is Karen Leggett.

The World of Engineering: Successes and Challenges

Think about the great engineering successes of the 20th century. What wouldyou include? We could start with airplanes. How about radio and televisionbroadcasts or computers?

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering asked a group of scientists,engineers and technology experts to identify the biggest engineeringchallenges for the 21st century. This group identified 14 big challenges orissues. They divided these issues into four subject areas: sustainability,health, reducing threats and joy of living.

The Joy of Living and Engineering

Joy of living? What does that have to do with engineering? Rick Miller isPresident of the Olin College of Engineering.

“Well not everything that we think about going forward is a threat to the humanrace. Some of it is about joy and improving the quality of life. One of the thingsthat is certainly true in the U.S. -- and I believe it’s increasingly true across theglobe -- is the expectation that every generation will have a quality of life thatexceeds that of their parents.”

Mr. Miller says part of engineering today is about making life better. Forexample, engineers can help provide clean water for more people. Or theycan improve medicines. Engineering can help us understand how the humanbrain works, and how every person can learn best. All these efforts are part ofimproving the quality of life. In other words, they help to increase the joy ofliving.

How Engineering Helps Make the World a Better Place

Experts say engineering can help the world become safer and more efficientin the 21st century. They say engineers could design ways to preventterrorists from using nuclear weapons. Or they could stop computer hackersfrom stealing information on the Internet.

Engineers can make it easier to use energy from the sun, or find new sourcesof energy.

Rick Miller says engineers have to work together to solve many challenges. The issues are too large and complex for any one group of engineers -- or onecountry -- to solve alone. Mr. Miller says that when engineers from around theworld cooperate, they can save the planet! But he says before engineers canstart solving the world’s problems they need to learn how to think creatively. His school -- Franklin W. Olin College -- was recently recognized fordeveloping engineering leaders.

“Creativity is important to what we do. We look for students with multipleintelligences -- not just math scores. Olin believes that an engineer is aperson who envisions what has never been and does whatever it takes tomake it happen.”

How Students Learn to Become Engineers

Olin College is a small engineering school in the state of Massachusetts. Itsstudents learn through creative projects. Mr. Miller says, for example, astudent might design an insect such as a grasshopper. In five weeks,students have to create the design, build a model, and then compete to seewhose “grasshopper” jumps the highest.

Olin College students also identify people they would like to help. Somestudents have invented ways to help older adults suffering from memory loss. Others have created designs to help servers in coffee shops do their jobsbetter.

Mr. Miller says he wants his engineering students to work at being engineers --just like art students practice making art.

“Real musicians need to play music every semester. And, in fact, it’s likeoxygen. Well, I believe real engineers need to engineer things, need toenvision what has never been and to build things every semester.”

Learning How to Use Engineering to Improve Lives

Olin College is not the only school that teaches students how to think aboutengineering challenges. Pennsylvania State University offers what it calls theHumanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship program -- in other words,students use engineering to improve people’s lives. In one project, studentsdeveloped and tested low cost greenhouses in Kenya. Greenhouses areused for growing plants. These enclosed areas give farmers a longer growingseason.

Other college engineering programs are giving students a chance to createproducts and launch businesses before they finish their education. Forexample, engineering students at Rice University in Texas have designed 58health care products. The university says the products are now used to carefor 45,000 patients in 21 countries.

High School Students Learn Engineering

In North Carolina, classes at a new secondary school are organized aroundthe grand challenges of the 21st century. Rob Matheson is head of the STEMEarly College High School. STEM stands for the words Science, Technology,Engineering and Math.

​“And what struck me as a science educator is that thechallenges really cut across all of the basic sciencesthat we teach -- earth science, life and chemical. Theanswers to these big questions -- like access to cleanwater -- is in the humanities.”

Reading Literature to Become Better Engineers

Rob Matheson’s students not only take engineering classes; they also studyliterature and history. He says students might read books like “The Boy WhoHarnessed the Wind,” by William Kamkwamba. This book tells the true storyof a boy in Malawi who built a windmill to bring electricity to his village. Anotherassigned reading might be “Lord of the Flies,” by William Golding. The booktells about a group of boys alone on an island.

“They read ‘Lord of the Flies’ and then the project is, you know, ‘Imagine thatyou were, you crash-landed on this island and how are you going to sustainyourself? How are you going to provide the energy that you need?’”

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STEM Early College High School

Mr. Matheson believes students should learn early in their education to makeconnections between science and people.

“The question nowadays is what are you doing with your chemistryknowledge? What processes or product are you producing that is benefittingmankind as opposed to just, ‘I, I know my chemistry.’”

And that’s our program for today. It was reported, and written in SpecialEnglish, by Karen Leggett.

Every day on As It Is, we report on issues that we believe are of interest to youas we help you learn everyday American English.

We present a new As It Is every day at 0030 Universal Time, with manyrebroadcasts throughout the day.

Thank you for spending some of your time with us today.

I’m Christopher Cruise reporting from VOA Learning English headquarters inWashington.

June Simms will be here tomorrow with another edition of As It Is. I hope you’lljoin her then, here on The Voice of America.


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