Rogue UAVs and questionable majors
Machine Design readers are not worried about UAVs, armed or otherwise. And most say UAVs are a welcome addition to the country’s military arsenal. Readers also don’t have much sympathy for liberal-arts majors and feel they would be better off pursuing trades like HVAC and plumbing.
UAVs have their place
I can see the usefulness of UAVs for inspecting bridges, towers, and other structural inspections (“The Ethics of UAVs,” Dec. 12). I also see UAVs’ usefulness for military and police surveillance. These UAVs, however, do not need to be armed. With technologies already available, UAVs can “paint” targets for missile attacks. There are too many risks of weapons falling into the wrong hands if we arm these unmanned drones.
I would like to know what’s flying around my city, and why. If police are using UAVs for surveillance, they should be required to get a search warrant, unless it’s an “active” crime they are monitoring.
And I’m not too crazy about Amazon’s flying drones for package delivery because it might just lead to something else, something less benign, flying around my neighborhood.
The use of drones needs to be licensed for specific private applications (security outside a building, news gatherings). Police need oversight for surveillance as in phone tapping, but not for monitoring conditions such as traffic or crowd control. Shooting at drones should be restricted to law-enforcement agents if illegal activities are suspected.
Shrinking liberal arts
I have always considered a “liberal-arts” or business degree (including MBAs) to be “me-too” degrees (“Those Deadbeat Liberal-Arts Students,” Dec. 12). Just a way for someone to say they graduated from college. Granted, we do need some English majors to teach us engineers to write, but just how many do we need?
And is there anything more worthless than a “woman’s studies” degree? How many members does NOW’s HQ staff require? The irony is that many men are now pursuing vocational studies such as HVAC and plumbing, while some commentators say women are getting more “higher education” than men, though it is in areas like social work. In many of these majors, as long as you agree with your professor’s politics, you will pass.
Part of the problem is that high-school students come under tremendous pressure from teachers, parents, counselors, and the media to attend college. These well-intentioned pressures spring from a long history of college grads being more employable and at higher wages. What is often missed, however, is the fact that historically only the best and brightest — maybe the top 15% — went to college and then on to successful careers. Now that less-talented, interested and/or motivated students are entering college, it should not be surprising that they are drawn to less-challenging majors. The result is there are more new graduates with more student debt and fewer marketable skills than in the past.
A better approach to encouraging students into more-challenging and productive majors — like engineering — is simply to fund tuition for these programs via student loans, scholarships and/or grants while defunding subsidies tuition for liberal arts and similar programs. In fact, by channeling funds toward majors more valuable to the individual, business, and society, perhaps student loan debt and delinquencies could be reduced.