What weighs us down?
I am concerned that we are turning not only engineering but several other departments into vocational schools. The university needs to live up to its true mission, that of preparing the graduates with a holistic background as much as possible not only to fit in the industry, make money or generate wealth, but be ready to address serious societal and in fact existential challenges. Entrepreneurship is good for our livelihood but it is only one component that the university at large needs to nurture. The university needs to provide the atmosphere for hard-hitting and vibrant intellectual atmosphere where the students are not intimidated to revisit classical paradigms and ask difficult questions such as the virtues of competitiveness and growth. Professors should have a balanced portfolio of research that is short-term based which caters to industrial needs but also long-term that is risky and does not necessarily find industrial sympathy. Professors too, need to be part of the intellectual dynamic on campus. Unfortunately, from my experience, this is not happening.
The students need space, in the physical, social and mental sense, to grow, to intellectualize and ask difficult and very difficult questions. I am not sure what the trend is at UW. I don’t’ have data, but I fear that such space is diminishing which can have detrimental impact on the holistic development of our graduates. We don’t want our university mission to be churning modern-day “farmers”, but true leaders who are not only technically capable but can participate in shaping our vision and philosophy as a nation. I am privileged that my undergraduate and graduate schooling providing rich space for debate and campus intellectualism and activism that have made significant impact on the choices I’ve made in private life and in my career. We need a dynamic campus community to provide space for all persuasions. In particular, we should take advantage of the diverse students’ population to enrich the experience at UW. Are we doing this?