Message from the Dean

A View from the Bridge

Though rarely described this way, engineering is the bridge between the sciences and humanities. Simply put, engineers apply scientific principles to advance the human condition. Their success relies as much upon an understanding of physics and math as an appreciation of history and psychology. Engineering bridges the limits dictated by science (e.g., the laws of thermodynamics) with the limitless nature of human talents and passions.

It is a shame that engineering is not usually put into this context. Instead engineers are often portrayed as über-science introverts or as nerdy tinkerers. Is it any wonder that only about 5% of college graduates in this country are choosing engineering as their major?

It is going to take a great deal of effort to change the populist notions about engineering, especially as an education. Not all history majors become historians; not all chemistry majors become chemists; and certainly not all engineering majors pursue careers as professional engineers. But engineering majors have invested in an education that ties the sciences to the humanities, develops quantitative thinking, and teaches design and problem solving in the face of incomplete knowledge. Engineering is the quintessential liberal education for the technologically driven world in which we live.

And given that a bridge is only as sturdy as its footings, it is hard to imagine a more ideal setting for the study of engineering than at Yale, where even geographically we are located between the humanities and the sciences. As we grow and advance the School of Engineering & Applied Science, we have no more important mission than to lead by example, developing and showcasing engineering as the interconnect that it is.

T. Kyle Vanderlick
Dean, School of Engineering & Applied Science