Can we break the cycle?

A lot of what goes on in the IDEAS seminar deals with technocracies; societies that become overrun by technology.

My problem with this? I think in some ways, we are the earth, and technocracies are Halley’s Comet.

As humans, as people, as engineers, we like to fix things. Design them and redesign them until they are better and better and better and then suddenly… what is left for us to do? What is our purpose? Suddenly we ARE a dystopian technocracy. Then, as shown in many dystopian societies, one thing will happen: the masses will rebel. They will rebel, and they will try to destroy all that has to do with the society they so despised and then… we are back at square one.

So, how do we break the cycle?

Here’s my thought. The world today is rigid; it does its best to keep us on the straight and narrow. To get an engineering degree, or any degree for that matter, there is a very strict set of courses you have to take. These courses, at least to some extent, start to narrow everyone’s thinking in a certain direction. Engineers get in the habit of thinking “How do we make this more efficient? How do we make it better?” and this kind of thought can be what gears us towards a technocracy. If these are the only questions we ask, we can only move in that one direction.

The solution to this, I believe, is going to be a combination of the arts, and the humanities, into engineering. Because really, why do we need humanities? We shouldn’t, strictly on the basis of our needs, but we do, based on the fact that we are human. If we integrate humanities into engineering, will it keep us from this downfall? Maybe engineers should stop trying to make machines do more and more and more in terms of manufacturing. Let the masses or the people maintain the machines, let us hold our place in that respect. Maybe, just maybe, engineers should be thinking, how do I create such and such an experience for people? For instance, maybe instead of creating autopilot systems for computers, and removing the pilot, maybe an aerospace engineer should work to redesign the versatility of the craft; make it more compatible with the pilot. Instead of taking the freedom from the pilot and giving the aircraft a specific guideline of “get from A to B”, they should give the freedom back to the pilot. Or maybe they should re-engineer something like the first plane, but do it in such a way that it can be more accessible to the average person. Because who wouldn’t want their own glider, their own chance to feel the wind on their face?

Is this whole idea feasible? I don’t have a clue. I’m pretty sure the economics would fall through in today’s world without hesitation. But maybe, someday, it could be like this? Should it be? Would that break the cycle?

Too many IDEAS!

Originally posted on ludeanna17:

My life as a first year college student; the number one question I get asked is…

“What’s your major?!”

My response has never been the same twice. Generally it’s a smile and something along the lines of “it’s complicated”. Lately, when new college friends ask me this, all of my friends (who already know the answer) groan and say “you really shouldn’t ask her that…” because really I don’t have any idea what my major is. Pun intended.

Technically, I will have an Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences in four years. But to get down to it? I think that just means I like stuff. Really. I chose this degree because I got cold feet about being a total engineer in my senior year. I liked EVERYTHING how could I possibly choose just one thing to stick with? Even now I find myself thinking… I like mechanical and…

View original 285 more words

A Civil Action – Sept. 10, 2013

IDEAS Seminar – Sept. 3, 2013 (by lehighengineers) The second half of A Civil Action.

Join in the discussion by using the hashtag #LehighIDEAS on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, or Google +. To see what’s up, go to Tagboard to see what everyone is saying!

Questions for this week:

1) What role does regulation play, and should it play?

2) How can we change the role of the justice system?

First Year Seminar – Sept. 3, 2013

IDEAS Seminar – Sept. 3, 2013 (by lehighengineers) The first half of A Civil Action.

Join in the discussion by using the hashtag #LehighIDEAS on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, or Google +. To see what’s up, go to Tagboard to see what everyone is saying!

Questions for this week:

1) How does technology, society, and the law intersect?

2) What is this movie about?

3) Is the legal system the right place to be discussing these technology issues?

4) Are the harmful side effects of technology spread equally across society?

Revisiting Euclidean Geometry

Geometry. When I go back and think about the subject in high school that was the most tedious, especially in math, geometric proofs are one of the first things that come to mind. Even though I have always enjoyed studying math, Euclidean geometry is very different from the rest of the math that is studied in high school, which is more computational in nature. It doesn’t deal with common notions like numbers and algebra, but relies mainly upon an arcane system of postulates, definitions, and theorems. The only way knowledge is derived is via proof, which does not seem mathematical to most 14 or 15 year-olds. Even after coming to the realization that the theorems studied in geometry provide a framework which allows us to study coordinate geometry and trigonometry, I still did not have a high regard for this branch of mathematics.

Why has this forgettable topic suddenly come back? This semester, I am taking Math 163, which is the seminar course that all math majors are required to take. This class is meant for underclassmen who are interested in pursuing mathematics, and its purpose is to introduce us to mathematical rigor and reasoning, as well as to show us how to construct solid mathematical proof.The theme of the class is geometry, and we are currently working with the first book of Euclid’s Elements, which includes all the familiar congruence theorems, characterizes parallel lines, and ends with a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. A recurring theme that our professor reminds us about constantly is the all-important Fifth Postulate, which deals with the angles formed by two lines and a line that falls across them. The axiom is used mainly in dealing with parallel lines. It is also interesting to view the Pythagorean Theorem in a purely geometric context, rather than the common algebraic equation, a^2+b^2=c^2.

Although I was originally complaining about having to look at Euclid again, the methods of proof learned will come in handy in higher-level mathematics courses, where I am already having to construct proofs for homework on a weekly basis. Maybe it is because I now see a purpose for it, but I am glad I was forced to revisit geometry, and I’m looking forward to moving on to more modern geometry and applying my knowledge acquired from studying Euclid.

IDEAS… IV?

This semester, in the IDEAS program, I am registered for IDEAS IV. This “class” however, is not really a class that meets every week. This semester, the IDEAS seminars have split up into different groups and are working on projects, separately, that will eventually tie into everyone’s respective IDEAS major.

I have two other members in my group, and we will be working on one of the “Grand Challenges for Engineering”. Our project will be to follow a challenge, do research on it and determine the different impacts of it, and maybe even try to follow through with it.

The Grand Challenges for Engineering, (http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/cms/challenges.aspx), are several “problems” that the world is facing today. The challenge is to figure out solutions for them. The most important part of this project is asking the questions, because without asking the question, there will be no discussion on the topic.

Lehigh Art Gallery

For Theory of Form and Materials (Arch 342), we had to go to a lecture on Joan Mitchell, a famous abstract expressionist, since her work pertained to our class discussions. Afterwards, we were invited to the reception in the Lehigh Art Gallery, which I never knew existed. We were able to enjoy some light hors d’oeuvres and walk through the art gallery.

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Ready to design your own major?

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Did you know that in the IDEAS program you get the flexibility to choose what classes you want?

I am a First-Year student who intends to concentrate in Electrical Engineering and International Relations, and the course selection process was very interesting these first two semesters. IDEAS majors take courses in five groups for a total of 136 credits:

  1. IDEAS Core
  2. Math/Science core
  3. Engineering Concentration
  4. Arts & Science Concentration
  5. Arts & Science distribution requirements

Sounds overwhelming? It’s manageable!

The great thing is that you can really focus in what you want to get out of your degree. For example, I wish to work for a multinational company in the engineering field. Therefore, I choose from an array of courses that give me a solid technical background in engineering. In IR, I am leaning towards political economy, economic development, and globalization.

So far, I have been working on the Math and Science requirements and the IR courses. Next year, my schedule will be mostly geared towards engineering with some IR classes.

Looking forward to how this is going to work out!

Professor John Conway Visits Lehigh

Last week John Conway, Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University came to Lehigh for a discussion on his many accomplishments. The talk was arranged by Lehigh’s Professor Donald Davis, who teaches a course based off of Conway’s work called “Popular Mathematics.” The beginning of the discussion was about the Game of Life, arguably Conway’s most famous accomplishment. The Game of Life is one of the first examples of cellular automata, and is based on a grid of uniform square cells that are either alive or dead. There is also a set of rules that defines whether the cells will die, be reborn, or stay the same. After going into a lengthy ramble about this, Conway went on to describe one of his most recent and favorite accomplishments, the free will theorem. This theorem in the field of quantum mechanics is based on the premise that if humans have free will, so should elementary particles. Although Conway spoke very softly and was hard to hear for most of the talk, the event was interesting enough, and I will surely look into both the Game of Life and the free will theorem during my free time.

We’re going down a slipp…

We’re going down a slippery slope now! – Bill Best

This is one of Professor Best’s favorite lines to use when the IDEAS seminars discuss ethical issues in engineering and technology.

Although it be a little overused, this quote really does describe a lot of the things that are discussed in the IDEAS seminars. The IDEAS seminar is a place to ask questions about society, ethics and disasters that generally would not be asked anywhere else. With this in mind, a lot of questions that are asked open a whole can of worms, because everyone has a different view on the topic and people start to argue with each other. (That’s probably one of the funnest things about IDEAS) If you’re interested in constructive arguments with people, then IDEAS just might be for you!