Engineering to Social Science: Transitioning from Black or White to Grey

My educational background is in engineering with a BS in Electrical Engineering and a MS in Industrial Engineering from Wichita State University which I completed (gulp) 30 years ago.  In engineering our focus was always on facts and figures while looking at things in a very pragmatic manner without much focus on abstract or art or philosophies.  I personally think when we put so much emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) we swing the pendulum from one extreme to the other extreme.  Our focus should to add Arts into the mix (STREAM) since arts play a significant role in making a technologist a better technologist.  More details on this can be accessed via my blog

As part of my PhD in Learning Technologies, I am fortunate to be learning more about the philosophy of social sciences and the various theories surrounding social sciences.  It has been fascinating to me to be able to look at the work of Weber, Plato, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Darwin, etc. as well as to learn that unlike engineering which is mostly black or white, the philosophy of social sciences is mostly grey with no clear black or white answer.

I went through most of my adult life forming my own management style based on my values, religious beliefs which are aligned with my values, learning from past experiences, formal or informal training, failure, etc. which led to more success than I had ever imagined without the exploration or consciously taking sides on philosophical positions.  After reading about the social sciences, we do need to understand the differences between points of view to better understand where the other person is coming from without judging who is right or wrong initially.  As an example, my bias is that traditional education pedagogy does not work where the teacher is the center of the universe by being the sender of information, student is the receiver of information and the content provided by the teacher is the delivery with repetition and memorization.  Without proper understanding the philosophies of sciences, I am really not in a good position to fully understand as to what is the construct of this learning pedagogy and potentially there might be elements of philosophy behind traditional pedagogy that I could apply to the teaching pedagogy that I think works. President-Obama-got-it-wrong-STREAM-builds-great-leaders-not-STEM.

I have had an opportunity to apply some of my new thinking into class work in the recent past and based on my background of an engineer and industry person, this is new and challenging for me.  That is also the objective of becoming a scholar where you have to develop deeper thinking and create arguments with points as well as counter points to provoke healthy discussions allowing us to get to higher level of understanding as well as a better answer.  In my quest for pursuing a PhD, I have always seen myself as a potential applied scholar that would focus on the cause of advancing learning with technology enabled solutions such as predictive analysis, distance learning, AI / machine learning, etc.  Since learning more about the social sciences, I can picture myself to use these learnings to make a stronger case in the application of technology for learning but also for advancing the cause to learning technologies in the academic world.

President Obama Got it Wrong! STREAM builds great leaders not STEM.