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What Fuzzies Might Learn From Techies

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Technological Literacy and the Educated Person

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1367.1 - 15.1367.19



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Paper Authors


R. William Graff LeTourneau University

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R. William Graff is a professor in the school of Engineering and Engineering Technology at LeTourneau University, where he has taught since 1975. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University in electrical engineering. Prior to joining the faculty at LeTourneau, he was assistant professor of electrical engineering at Drexel University for six years, and then at Wilkes College for two years. His professional interests include antennas, microwaves, plasmas, teaching, and ethics.

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Paul Leiffer LeTouneau University

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Paul R. Leiffer is a professor and Chair of Engineering in the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology at LeTourneau University, where he has taught since 1979. He received his B.S.E.E. from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Drexel University. Prior to joining the faculty at LeTourneau, he was involved in cardiac cell research at the University of Kansas Medical Center. His professional interests include digital signal processing, biomedical engineering, and appropriate technology.

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Martin Batts Le Tourneau University

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Martin Batts is a professor at LeTourneau University, where he has been teaching in the areas of English and Philosophy since 1983. He received his B.S. from Calvin College, the M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, S.T.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from the University of Dallas. He has served as a campus minister at Drake University and as dean at Ecola Hall.

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Maria J. Leiffer LeTouneau University

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Maria J. Leifer holds degrees in English and Education from Houghton College. She is currently teaching in Texas.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

What Fuzzies Might Learn From Techies Introduction

Almost all those in academia agree with the value of liberal arts subjects are to “round out” an engineering education in order to make a “whole person” of the graduate. Engineering faculty largely agree that engineering students (and faculty) can learn a great deal from liberal arts faculty and their publications, particularly in the valuable area of “soft skills.” Through our interactions on campus and the ABET 2000 Criteria we have certainly seen that engineers benefit from interaction with arts/humanities faculty and the materials they develop. Examples include dealing with team members and clients, interpersonal communications, understanding one’s abilities and growth areas, communicating concepts to a wide audience, understanding ethical theories, wrestling with ambiguity in those situations which are not clearly black and white, and understanding social impacts of design. Is there a way to return the favor? Not so much consideration has been given to the opposite issue, which is that of helping liberal arts majors to understand some of the technical aspects of our society. Some technical concepts can be communicated with a relatively slight dependence upon mathematical understanding, and these concepts may even be helpful to liberal arts professors in their teaching of liberal arts courses. While there is definitely value in engineers learning something about the liberal arts there is also definitely value to liberal arts majors in learning something about engineering.

Are there some things that “fuzzies” (a nickname heard on National Public Radio for humanities people, apparently popularized at Stanford) might learn from “techies” (NPR’s nickname for engineering and technical people)?

Techies tend to be computer gurus, becoming more helpful to fuzzies as our society becomes more dependent on computer technology. In addition to computer assistance, there are also a number of other technical concepts that may be helpful, such as thermodynamic principles involved in economic situations, an understanding of the relative sizes of numbers, and some basic concepts, fundamental to those of an engineering discipline, which can be applied to everyday life. Fuzzies could also benefit from having familiarity with the popular concept of the Singularity (including the controversy that surrounds it) and with Billy V. Koen’s “Method.” The following pages outline these concepts.

1. Everyday Concepts – Feedback

Our society is continually becoming more technically oriented in all aspects of life. Technology may seem mysterious to fuzzies. There is, however, a certain set of basic, easily understood information that “techies” can help fuzzies understand.

Graff, R. W., & Leiffer, P., & Batts, M., & Leiffer, M. J. (2010, June), What Fuzzies Might Learn From Techies Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16204

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