Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Museum: The Rightful Place for an Outdated Education

I agree with all of you who are concerned about the level of detail, or the upkeep of the oil exhibit at the museum. Developments in the energy sphere in the last 30-40 years have been rapid. Encompassing the scope of development, even if it is limited only to Texas' role, in a simple museum exhibit for laymen or young children is a challenge. However, I argue that a museum is where we should go to learn about the distant past. The recent, the present and expectations for the future belong in the classroom.

My visit to the museum 5 years ago and again last week made me realize that neither my knowledge (pertaining to energy) of the past nor of the present is as robust as I would like it to be.

Some rhetorical questions I have struggled with during my time at UT:

Why is this class the only academic opportunity I have had for discussion about energy history in my five years as an undergraduate mechanical engineer at UT? If there were others, I may have been unaware of those opportunities but definitely not ignorant.

Do we assume that an undergraduate education focuses on summarizing the past, and a graduate education on developing prospects for the future?

Some solution oriented questions:

Can we build a wind mill near ECJ plaza with it's own audio recording, signifying that we have been harnessing wind energy for centuries and that we still continue to do so?

Can we have stand alone PhotoVoltaic powered parking lot lights at UT with a sticker on the pole explaining how they work?

Can we have a History of Energy Technology class as an introductory class for engineering majors?

I think it's time for creativity in education and information, if we really want to educate ourselves about our energy past and energy future.

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