Column: Impact and empowerment


In a recent School of Engineering report by Purdue University, Dean Mung Chiang wrote about Engineering +X as essential to fulfilling the potential of engineering in shaping the conditions of human existence.

One dimension of this concept is collaboration with partners outside of academia, and another is with intellectual disciplines. The report shows how the engineering school has collaborated with the schools of agriculture, veterinary medicine, IU School of Medicine, pharmacy, technology, management, health sciences, science and liberal arts. Every school at Purdue plus another university has a collaboration with the engineering school. The old concept of “silos” of engineering is disappearing.

A comprehensive education, today, provides a network of partners for impact and empowerment. Going it alone is tough. Finding a partner, whether it’s a person, a like-minded concept or the largest school at Purdue is the growth and satisfaction component necessary to “save the planet” or simply have more fulfillment.

I recently heard Richard Reeves speak at an Economics Club luncheon. He is a senior fellow and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. His topic was based on his new book, “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust,” why that is a problem and what to do about it.

Reeves came to the U.S. from England to escape the class system only to discover a class system that is rapidly growing in the U.S. and the world between the haves and have nots. He emphasizes that the top fifth of our society is upper-middle class who pass on their values and opportunities to future generations because they are provided the education opportunities with upper-middle class status. He emphasizes that support of community colleges to educate the lower class is essential to narrow the gap.