首页 > VOA慢速英语 > AS IT IS > [翻译]新闻传真 - 工程师做什么,他们如何学习?

文章详情

[翻译]新闻传真 - 工程师做什么,他们如何学习?

来源:慢速英语   时间:2014-02-12 10:48:33

Hello, and welcome to As It Is from VOA Learning English.

I’m Christopher Cruise in Washington.

Today on the program, we explore the complex and important world of engineering -- how people use science 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 build things every semester.”

We sent VOA Learning English Reporter Karen Leggett out to live in the engineering world.  Over the past few months she interviewed officials at the National Academy of Sciences, an engineer at the U.S. Geological Survey, engineering educators and an engineering professor in India, among others.  She learned how engineering students are being taught.  Believe it or not, some of them are reading literature 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 would you include?  We could start with airplanes.  How about radio and television broadcasts or computers?

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering asked a group of scientists, engineers and technology experts to identify the biggest engineering challenges for the 21st century.  This group identified 14 big challenges or issues.  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 is President of the Olin College of Engineering.

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

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

How Engineering Helps Make the World a Better Place

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

Engineers can make it easier to use energy from the sun, or find new sources of 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 one country -- to solve alone.  Mr. Miller says that when engineers from around the world cooperate, they can save the planet! But he says before engineers can start solving the world’s problems they need to learn how to think creatively.  His school -- Franklin W. Olin College -- was recently recognized for developing engineering leaders.

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

How Students Learn to Become Engineers

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

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

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 like oxygen.  Well, I believe real engineers need to engineer things, need to envision 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 about engineering challenges.  Pennsylvania State University offers what it calls the Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship program -- in other words, students use engineering to improve people’s lives.  In one project, students developed and tested low cost greenhouses in Kenya.  Greenhouses are used for growing plants.  These enclosed areas give farmers a longer growing season.

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

High School Students Learn Engineering

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

​“And what struck me as a science educator is that the challenges really cut across all of the basic sciences that we teach -- earth science, life and chemical.  The answers to these big questions -- like access to clean water -- is in the humanities.”

Reading Literature to Become Better Engineers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

在今天的节目里,我们探索复杂而重要的工程学的世界——人们如何利用科学解决问题或发明新事物。

我相信真正的工程师每学期都要设计东西,需要构想从未有过的事物并制作。

我们派 VOA 英语学习频道的记者 Karen Leggett 在工程学的世界里生活。在过去几个月,她采访了美国工程院的官员、美国地质调查局的工程师、工程学教育工作者和印度的工程学教授等人。她了解到了工科学生的教育。不管你相信与否,他们有些人通过阅读文学作品来帮助他们成为更好的工程师。

工程学的世界:成果和挑战

回想一下 20 世纪工程界的伟大成果。你能举出哪些?我们会首先想到飞机。当然还有收音机、电视广播,以及电脑。

2008 年,美国工程院邀请一组科学家、工程师和技术专家一起确定 21 世纪工程方面最大的挑战。该小组列举了 14 个重大挑战或议题。他们将这些议题分为 4 个领域:可持续性、健康、降低风险和生活乐趣。

生活乐趣与工程

生活乐趣?这与工程有什么关系?Rick Miller 是欧林工程学院的校长。

“并不是所有向前推进的东西都是对人类的威胁,其中一些是有关乐趣和改善生活质量的。在美国毫无疑问的是——而且我认为它在全球也越来越如此——那就是我们希望每一代人的生活质量都好过他们的父母。”

Miller 说,现在,工程学的部分目标是让生活更美好。比如,工程师可以帮助为更多人提供清洁水。或者,他们可以改善医疗。工程能够帮助我们理解人类大脑如何工作,以及人们如何学得更好。所有这些都是改善生活质量的一部分。换言之,他们可以增加生活的乐趣。

工程学如何帮助世界更美好

专家指出,工程学可以帮助世界在 21 世纪更安全、更高效。他们表示,工程师可以设计出防止恐怖分子使用核武器的方法。或者,他们可以阻止电脑黑客窃取网络信息。

工程师能让太阳能的使用更便利,或者找到新能源。

Rick Miller 说,工程师应该共同解决诸多挑战。这些问题让任何一个工程团队或国家单独解决都太大、太复杂。Miller 说,当全世界的工程师能够合作时,他们就能拯救地球!但他指出,在工程师解决世界问题之前,他们需要学习创造性思维。他的学校——富兰克林•W•欧林学院——近来培养出了很多工程界的领军人物。

“创造力对我们的工作来说很重要。我们在寻找有多方面才能的学生——而不仅仅是数学成绩。欧林学院相信,一位工程师应该是一个能够构想新事物并努力将其实现的人。”

学生如何成为一名工程师

欧林学院是马萨诸塞州的一个小型工程学院。它的学生通过创新项目来学习。Miller 举例说,学生要设计一个昆虫,比如蝗虫。在 5 周的时间里,学生需要完成设计、构建模型,并在完成之后看看谁的“蝗虫”跳得最高。

欧林学院的学生还会确定他们要帮助的人。一些学生发明了帮助老人避免记忆衰退的方式。还有人设计了能够帮助咖啡店改善服务的方案。

Miller 说,他希望他的工科学生像工程师一样工作——就像艺术生创作艺术一样。

“真正的音乐家每个学期都要做音乐。而且,这实际上就像氧气一样。我相信真正的工程师每个学期都需要设计东西,需要构想从未有过的事物并制作。”

学习如何利用工程学改善生活

欧林学院并非唯一教授学生考虑工程难题的学校。宾夕法尼亚州立大学提供了它所谓的“人道主义工程和社会创业项目”——换言之,学生利用工程学来改善人们的生活。在一个项目中,学生在肯尼亚开发和测试低成本温室。温室是用来种植植物的,这些封闭区域为农民提供了更长的种植期。

还有一些大学的工程项目在学生毕业前就为他们提供制作产品、开办生意的机会。比如,德克萨斯州莱斯大学的工科学生设计了 58 个医保产品。该大学称,这些产品现在用在了 21 个国家 4.5 万名病人的医疗上。

高中生学习工程学

在北卡罗来纳州,一所新高中针对 21 世纪的这些重大挑战组建班级 。Rob Matheson 是 STEM 附属高中的校长。
STEM 代表科学、技术、工程和数学。

“打动我这个科学教育工作者的是这些挑战真正涵盖了所有我们所教的基础科学——地球科学、生命和化学。这些重大问题的答案——比如获取清洁水——就在人道主义之中。”

阅读文学,成为更好的工程师

Rob Matheson 的学生不仅学习工科课程,他们还学习文学和历史。他说,学生们会读 William Kamkwamba 的《The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind》这类书籍。这本书讲述了一位马拉维男孩的真实的故事,他建造了一个风车,为自己的村子供电。另外一本指定读物是 William Golding 的《Lord of the Flies》。这本书讲述了一群在岛上独立生活的男孩。

“他们读《Lord of the Flies》,然后就会有这个项目:‘想象你坠落在这个岛上,你会如何自救?你如何给自己提供必须的能源?’”

Matheson 认为学生应该在受教育的早期学会建立科学与人的联系。

“现在的问题是,你能利用你的化学知识做什么?你所创造的哪种过程或产品能够造福于人而不仅是‘我学会了化学’?”