Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Essay(2): Purpose Education ...

My perspective starts with the concepts:

1) Education provides enabling competencies
2) Training develops proficiency with in the competencies
3) Qualification assesses that required competencies and/or proficiences
have been attained
4) Certification is formal record that accepted qualification processes have
determined that required competencies and/or proficiences have been attained


1) Pupils lack the basic tools and competencies for communication and
participation with in their society/culture. The teachers role is to impart
these essential competences whether the pupil wants them or not.
2) Students are self-learners guided and assisted by mentors
3) Scholars are independent self-guided, self-learners

The purpose of compulsory schooling is to turn pupils into students. The
purpose of higher education is to turn students into scholars. I consider
that learning should be split into 5 year blocks. Thus 10 years of
compulsory education is 2 blocks. Whilst 2 years to get international
baccluareate or other matriculation type qualification, plus 3 years of a
degree is collectively another 5 year block. For many this path towards a
degree is a waste of time.

In Australia we have the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) and one of
the principles behind this framework is articulation from one qualification
level to another. It is however some what distorted by the schooling sector
and the secondary school certificates and and grade 12 matriculation.
Personally I think grade 11 and grade 12 should be scrapped: with studies
starting with AQF certificate I, and so grade 12 would be replaced by
something more like an AQF Associate Degree, or AQF Advanced Diploma.
Further more I think it should be required articulation and progressive. So
always start with AQF certificate I, then up to AQF Certificate II, and so
on. So there is no attempting a bachelor degree, failing, dropping back and
having to do extra work to get lower level qualification. Everyone follows
the required journey of learning, no fast track jumping to the destination.
With the requirement that education is separated from training, accepting
that a minimum amount of training is required to develop enabling
competencies. Additionally qualification and certification separated from
the educational institutions with respect to occupations, vocations and
professions. The point here is that the professions have messed up the
universal breadth and depth education, and general investigative research
abilities of degree programmes.

My issue here is that the typical graduate of an engineering programme is a
poor technician, poor scientist, poor mathematician, and poor designer, and
lacking ingenuity: basically unfit to be called an engineer. We have
established technologies and we need competent techncians to apply the
established science to assess the fitness-for-function of variations to
generic technologies. We are experiencing system failures, and so called
engineers are defending to the death their B.Eng programmes and their title
engineer. Telford was an engineer because he was designing and constructing
bridges at the frontiers of science and technology and achieving success:
not because he was designing and constructing bridges. Bridges are and
established technology, and require technicians competent in their design to
design them. Not graduates with a B.Eng covering the breadth of civil
engineering who have the potential to be competent bridge designers, if they
did the scholarly research and acquired the established knowledge. The
problem is increasingly they are not, the B.Eng is considered the end all of
everything so they design without further study, they invent an inferior
version of the wheel and industrial accidents occur: and the value of
engineering is diminished as the predictable and avoidable occurs. the
result is imposed licensing, requirements to extend to masters degrees, and
more time spent in university. None of which is really necessary, the
required knowledge was developed and evolved on the job in the first
instance, it is held by various businesses and industry organisations.
Finding the right answers may have taken years, but learning the solutions
found only takes hours. Most can be learnt on the job by the dedicated and
interested, and does not justify a masters programme. The problem is with
the B.Eng programmes in major engineering disciplines. Engineering went from
single discipline of military to civil, and then split into multiple
branches: each of the major disciplines are further split into 5 areas of
practice if refer to the NCEES examination breakdowns. { NCEES :
http://www.ncees.org/ }

Most people only operate with proficiency in a single area of practice to
any extensive depth. So for example civil may become structural designers or
stormwater drainage designers, whilst mechanical may become machine
designers or HVAC designers. They can operate across most areas of practice
if project not requiring of depth and time is available to do the scholarly
studies of the estabished science and technology. It is thus potentially
more correct to refer to the equivalent 1 year AQF Diploma 2 year AQF
Associate degree in the breadth of the engineering sciences as the defining
education of an engineer rather than the 4 year B.Eng. After the engineering
sciences or fundamentals of engineering there are 2 to 3 years remaining to
cover the 5 areas of practice. Which means they do not acquire much depth in
any area of practice, and there is much to learn on the job.

However not all the fundamentals of engineering are required for a given
area of practice, and therefore academic programmes shorter than 4 years
plus a masters programme can be developed to pass on the necessary
competencies. But the universities do not appear to be doing this, nor the
engineering institutions. Instead they accredit 2 year associate degrees and
3 years bachelor of technology degrees in the major disciplines. These
graduates are then seen as inferior to those with a B.Eng and then typically
stuck on a drawing board as a drafter: wasting resources, and falsely
declaring a shortage of engineers.

I am not interested professions: work has to be done by competent people
what ever trite title they are given. The tradional passage to engineer was
from tracer, through drafter to designer, with designer then having to
acquire increasing scientific knowledge to assess the fitness-for-function
of the technologies they designed. Each having passed through the same path,
were aware of the skills of other members of the design team. Academic
qualifications imposed on the system along with imposed professions, remove
this awareness. An engineer is an invention just like a wheel: and may or
may not be useful for a given purpose. Business buys engineers just like it
buys wheels. Similarly it can equally well buy engineering associates or
engineering technologists: but these other professions are inventions of
institutions of engineers and thus classed as inferior {and they would take
objection to me calling them professions}. As a consequence businesses do
not really build a sustainable work team, partially due to lack of
flexibility in the education and qualification system.

The civil engineer is the principl on the project, only need one principal,
so we do not need universities churning out graduates with degrees in civil
engineering. Industries are established, so we know that we need steel
designers, and stormwater drainage designers, rather than civil engineers. I
am not saying people don't get a degree in civil engineering, I am
suggesting that the first requirement for most is getting a job: further
study is either a matter of personal interest or necessary career
development. A 2 year associate degree in engineering science would provide
the basic competencies to get in a design office, on the drawing board and
involved with engineering projects. From there can then determine whether
take that to next level of B.Tech in stormwater drainage design or structual
steel design. But even that is not all that flexible. Better to drop the
engineering science qualification back, so that get a 1 year AQF Diploma in
structural steel design, stormwater drainage design, machine design or HVAC
design. More over everyone in the industry should have a common AQF
Certificate I in technical science: so that the trades and higher level
designers have a common foundation: and are more aware of where their
education diverges and who knows more about what.

{The perspective taken here for articulation is that: an AQF Diploma is 1
year in duration, and Certicates I to IV are a fraction of a year. (eg. each
adds 1/5 of a year towards the diploma), the Advanced Diploma is taken as
1.5 years, after the 2 year Associate Degree everyting seen as incresing in
1 year blocks. The bachelor degree is 3 years, and the masters 2 years,
aligned with the Bologna process.}

The objective is that everything below the 2 year Associate Degree becomes
increasingly generic in nature, and that jobs are described in terms of
multiple AQF qualifications rather than a single qualification. So people
start with the AQF that gets them an entry level job in an industry, from
there they determine direction of further eduation. Life long learning is to
become a cultural habit. The basic tool of the engineering industries is
technical drawing and engineering graphics. Therefore an AQF Certificate I,
has to impart competencies in reading and producing technical drawings and
solving problems using engineering graphics: the basics of dimension and
geometry. The AQF Certificate I, gets a person in drawing, planning, and
design offices. From there can either take further education towards general
engineering science, or in a more specific technology. We do need
qualifications in specific technologies. This teaching general engineering
science, and no specfic technology, because technology is advancing rapidly
is nonsense. First competent technicians to deal with the established and
maintain our existing systems, and then onto the frontiers. The result is a
person likely to have say: an Associate Degree in Structral Steel Design
plus an Associate Degree in Engineering Science. As to which of the two
qualifications they take first will be dependent on the individual. If
engineering science is considered a subject having breadth, then those with
qualification in will be easily able to complete associate degrees in more
specific areas of practice. Those who take a specific area of practice less
able to move over to other areas of practice. From another perspective 80%
of all projects should only require a 1 year Diploma to tackle the project
competently {this is a design requirement of the study programmes}. The
minimum general fundamentals of engineering being considered say Certificate
III, with Certificate IV providing discipline specific fundamentals
dependent on the Certificate III. The diploma then fills in the specifics
for the area of practice. Moving to other areas of practice at the same
level only requires 1/5 of a year of study within the discipline. To move to
an area of practice in another discipline would require 2/5 of a year of
study to cover discipline specific fundamentals and the specific area of
practice. Additionally there is always some overlap in content: for example
moving from structural steel design to structural timber design. The first
material covered introduces generic skills that require specific examples to
present. So the duration of the study programmes for other material can be
collapsed, or even replaced with simple training and assessment programmes
(develop profeciency and test attainment). The qualification however remains
diploma: so people collect multiple diplomas. Also we differentiate from
that which is required to design and specify, from the more advanced
analytical requirements.

For example correctly caluclating values from code formula does not require
knowledge of the mathematical derivation of those formula. Either the
formula in the codes reflect reality and can be validated by physical
experiment, or they are mathematical rubbish. Many of the formual have no
theoretical basis and are simply empirical results: and can only be verfied
by testing. Printing errors in codes where formula are based on mathematical
theory can be checked and audited from first principles by users of the
code: empirical formula cannot be validated and therefore important to avoid
errors in the publication of codes. Additionally it is generally not
practical to conduct extensive calculations on the specfic project, and so
have capacity tables, span tables and other design aids. Such design
aids/tools need to be used efficiently and correctly. It is not in anyway
smarter to be wasting time calculating point-values from mathematical
formula, when maxima or minima capabilities can be determined, or simple
curves and tables produced. A value taken from a curve makes it clear where
the designer is with in the realm of possibilities. A point value can be
calculated from an expression with no awareness that it is in error.

Productivity and efficiency are generated by knowing the answer rather than
having the potential to work it out. Minimum error and defect is achieved by
understanding the basis of the known solutions, but applying the known
solutions. Training people in the use of the timber framing code for
example, shouldn't just involve problems that can be solved by the code but
also problems beyond the scope of the code, so that users are more clearly
aware of its limitations. these limitations are why then pursue the next
level and learn the timber structures code and validate the content of the
timber framing code. This acquiring further knowledge and more fundamental
design-science which is used to validate prescriptive design-solutions is an
important quality check on those design-solutions. Thus every generation of
structural designers, as part of their education and training, has validated
the content of the timber framing code. Given that the timber framing code
is a commonly used code, it would thus form the foundations of training for
all structural designers. Timber thus becomes the first material they learn
how to design. The industry may require steel designers or concrete
designers: but timber still remains the starting point for development of a
structural designer. Now as more prescriptive solutions become available,
then have issue of structural designer versus building designer. Can also
consider house designer versus building designer. Many house builders have
the ability to design houses, but not the ability to design buildings in a
more generic class: nor design houses from alternative materials.

This concerns the knowledge of a specific technology, versus knowledge of a
more generic technology and its critical characteritics along with the
science required to assess those characteristics. For example construction
of brick veneer wall, versus fundamental characteristics of building fabric.

Once again can address this with respect to common foundations in
engineering science and the divergence across to a specific technology.
Knowledge in a specfic technology is important for its proper design,
assessment and fabrication. Knowledge in engineering science is important
for pushing the frontiers of technology. Knowledge in science is important
for pushing the frontiers of science. The fundamental requirement for
industrial society is to train competent technicians who can carry out the
proper design, assessment and fabrication of the established technologies
based on the established scientific knowledge.

The AQF qualifications are supposed to be based on generic competences, yet
if take a look at the available training packages there is significant
overlap and repetition. There is a distinct lack of industrial engineering,
systems analysis, information technology and knowledge engineering being
used to develop these qualifications. The starting point should be the human
knowledge base and its relationship to the essential functions with in the
machinery of industrial society. It should not be based on existing
industrial award, unions, or professional associations or learned

AQF: http://www.aqf.edu.au/

National Training Information Service (NTIS)

Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF)

Sure learned institutions and technical societies want to present advanced
topics and therefore there is a minimum knowledge base required to be able
to participate. However at present that minimum knowledge base is based on
flawed perspectives on the nature of existing academic awards. A person with
a degree in applied mechanics is likely to know more than a person with a
degree in civil or mechanical engineering. Also consider that those with a
degree in engineering are educated by persons with degrees in a larger
variety of subjects, such as science degrees in mathematics, physics, or
chemistry. So engineers do not have a 3 year degree in mathematics, they
have only covered a small portion of the field of mathematics. But there is
overlap and much that either can learn on the job. Does person with degree
in mathematics stick to pure mathematics, or move into applied mathematics,
at what point does applied mathematics become engineering? At what point
does engineering become applied mathematics? Engineering is not mathematics:
mathematics is a tool used by engineers and other science based designers.

Matriculation certificate is not all that useful, the UK O-levels and
A-levels seem to be more useful, as does an international bacclaurate. On
the otherhand such qualifications do not mesh well with a qualification
framework like AQF.

Mathematics is a common tool that many things are dependent upon.
Mathematics in turn deals with dimension and geometry: and technical drawing
provides an important tool for the study of such. Technical drawing is an
other language of communication, and general problem solving tool. Physics
is important strand through many subject areas, but should it start as an
initial strand at AQF Certificate I. Physics can be considered as applied
mathematics, additionally it is is also dependent on the sketching of
systems being analysed, along with charts and graphs. Thus a more generic
strand would be to start with technical drawing at AQF Certificate I, move
onto applied mathematics, then at some point branch into design, pure
mathematics or pure physics. The focus at certificate I being communication
along with methods of recording observations and measurements, along with
knowledge of dimension and geometry. Noting that this is replacing grade 11:
and represents 1/5 of a year, thus those going into a technical/scientific
field, start studying for such straight after grade 10. They all have a
common educational and qualification foundation, from which they can move
over into other areas with relative ease. The common spine of the whole area
being applied mathematics. The applications being clearly defined as the
depth in the broad area of applied mathematics increases. So the applied
mathematics starts of with a more business, accounting, and production
management orientation and moves more into physics as climb the ladder. That
is it starts with basic mathematical needs in a business oriented society
and moves to the more abstract. From societies viewpoint most things have
been designed already and simply need to manage the production, distribution
and operation of the technology. From societies view most of the
technologies are also defective so the technology either needs to be
improved or replaced by newly developed alternative technologies. Now cannot
altogether teach imagination, innovation and creation: though can learn how
to use various tools to assist with developing alternative perspectives
which lead to innovative ideas. One important aspect of which is not simply
being a trained technician in a specific area of practice. Someone who comes
from outside a discipline into another is usually the one who comes up with
innovations: because they are not locked into the one knowledge base and
have a broader knowledge base. Professions lock the knowledge base in,
stifling innovation in the profession, they start to become part of the

At present people are becoming cross-disciplined with Masters degrees, or
gaining professional practice skills through masters. I consider this to be
unwarranted inflation of qualifications in the various areas of practice. On
top of which it is not backed by proper training to develop the equivalent
proficiency as aquired by those with years of experience, who otherwise have
lower academic qualifications.

My proposal is based on there being significant overlap between various
occupational bachelor programmes, and also that the programmes lack depth
and cover more breadth. So the concept is to rip them back to 2 year
Associate Degrees and lower level AQF qualifications, and define professions
on the basis of multiple AQF qualifications rather than a single
qualification. So engineer can be defined by 3 year Bachelor of Engineering
Science (scrap the 4 year B.Eng), plus 2 year masters in specific area of
practice. But only if the masters content is based on the 3 year bachelor
degree. Otherwise all specific areas of practice are covered by 2 Associate
degrees, to 3 year bachelor technology degrees. Those taking the engineering
science route are being trained for the frontiers of technology, that is
they are otherwise expected to move onto masters or doctrate by research.

Now those working at the coalface are more likely to hit the frontiers of
science and technology than those working elsewhere, however those at the
coal face need to be competent technicians in the established science and
technology. Thus most likely route is: a 2 associate degree in specific area
of practice, plus 3 year Bachelor of engineering science, followed by
masters on literature research, followed by doctrate conducting empirical
research. That is the technician identifies a frontier and then pursues the
task of removing that frontier. {Noting that the 2 years to matriculate,
replaced by 2 year Associate degree, and then a 3 year Bachelor of
engineering science is pursued: and most likely whilst working.}

From another perspective innovation is lacking because those at the coal
face are not moving upwards, and those with the higher qualifications
haven't experience the coal face as they would most likely have done in more
traditional settings. There is thus benefit to take those with a B.Eng and
put them on the coal face: problem is they are not qualified and could get
injured or cause an accident. My proposal attempts to ensure that those at
the higher level have the qualifications for the coal face, there is no
other way to the higher level qualifications: they have to start at AQF
certificate I.

The issue is the point of divergence, back tracking and completing an
alternative pathway: with minimum repetition of that already done. Since
enabling competence is separated from development of proficency, and in turn
separated from assessment, qualification and certification. Where feasible
can simply assess, qualify and certify: skipping education and training.