As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a member of the HTW (How Things Work) group on Yahoo where the conversation leaps from topic to topic with the agility of a mountain goat…
Truth to tell, I have so many things going on at the moment that I missed the start of a recent thread, but I gather that someone had commented that engineers could do with more social skills. My immediate reaction would be to say “Try living without electric lights and hot and cold running water while we engineers work on our cocktail conversation,”
but another HTW member – Dave Typinski – put it far better than I. Dave said:
Ah, social skills. So, engineers must not only be able to perform differential calculus and build a tricorder from bear skins and stone knives, but must also author the Great American Novel, attain a James Bond level of self-assuredness at dinner parties, and negotiate peace between the Arabs and Israelis should the opportunity arise.
With rare exceptions, engineers and scientists know as much about social skills as the rest of the world knows about engineering and science. In other words, everyone on the planet could stand to learn more and broaden their horizons.
Dave went on to say that when everyone has finished preparing he’s created a final exam against which folks can test their overall knowledge. For your delectation and delight, Dave kindly granted me permission to present this final exam here (the original, along with other of Dave’s writings – both serious and humorous – can be found on his website at www.typnet.net
):INSTRUCTIONS: Read each question carefully. Answer all questions. The time limit is four hours. Begin immediately.
- HISTORY: Describe the history of the Papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating particularly, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.
- MEDICINE: You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.
- PUBLIC SPEAKING: 2,500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.
- BIOLOGY: Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human cultures if this form of life had been developed 500 million years earlier with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.
- MUSIC: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.
- PSYCHOLOGY: Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Alexander of Aphrodisias, Ramases II, Gregory of Nicea, and Hammurabi. Support your evaluation with quotations from each man's work, making appropriate citations. It is not necessary to translate.
- SOCIOLOGY: Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory. [Editor's Note: See also my blogs on the best Post-Apocalyptic book/film and the coming Robot Wars]
- ENGINEERING: The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed in a box on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual written in Swahili. In ten minutes, a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to this room. Take whatever action you consider appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.
- ECONOMICS: Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, and the wave theory of light. Outline a method for prevention of these effects. Criticize this method from all possible points of view. Point out the deficiencies in your point of view as demonstrated in your answer to the preceding question.
- POLITICAL SCIENCE: There is a red telephone on the desk next to you. Start World War III. Report on its socio-political effects, if any.
- EPISTEMOLOGY: Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.
- PHYSICS: Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.
- PHILOSOPHY: Sketch the development of human thought. Estimate the significance of its development. Compare with the development of other forms of thought.
- GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.
- EXTRA CREDIT: Describe the universe. Give three examples.
I love this. I think it is very, very clever. The only thing I don’t like about it is that I wasn’t clever enough to come up with something like this myself (grin).
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