One of biggest challenges facing the U.S. today is that we're not producing enough engineers who can envision and build real, working machines. Today's engineers have an overabundance of software knowledge, but far too few can devise products that put software to work.If kids no longer play with tools, fixing things and making things and learning the basics of problem solving, how will they gain competence as engineers? How can they solve real problems when most of their lives have been invested in fantasy?
Somewhere along the line, we've lost touch with the real world. Kids don't build tree houses anymore, they don't fix bikes, and when they start driving, they can't service their own cars. They lack “hands on” knowledge of anything short of a computer keyboard and joystick. Sadly, there are kids who've never worn a baseball glove or held a bat in their hands, but know the ins and outs of MLB and Madden NFL on their computers.
Reader, Julian Behrisch Elce wrote to me about a program on CBC Radio One in Canada pointing out that the basic lack of early hands-on play with basic materials is preventing aerospace engineers from having the hands-on ability to build what they have envisioned. This of course has profound economic effect. But it also impacts the human soul. Are we to be confident fixers, makers and creators, or are we to be enslaved as complaisant consumers of meaningless cheap stuff?