Engineering at Nebraska Fall09
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Education: how to engineer an evolution

Dean AllenGreetings from Nebraska!

In case you haven’t heard, this is the centennial year for the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

My own life spans more than half of that period, the last seven years of which I have been privileged to serve you as Dean of Engineering for this great college.

What have I learned that I can share on this memorable occasion as we look forward to the next 100 years? This is my message to you...

Anthropologists know that man was living a nomadic existence, a short 10,000 years ago. Geneticists know it takes at least 10,000 years for significant genetic changes to occur in our species. So those nomads of 100 centuries ago were, in intellectual capacity, every bit as advanced as we are today. Yet look around: every other species on this planet—the birds, the bees, the frogs—are all functioning more or less the same as they did 10,000 years ago. We are the sole exceptions, so far as we know, in the history of the universe.

And what, I ask you, has caused our species to change and improve our quality of life so dramatically in such a short span of time? The answer, in case you haven’t already guessed, is education.

We know today that the average person on this planet learns approximately eight times as much as she or he was genetically endowed with. This is the key to the future of each individual on this planet and indeed our entire species.

The future is now and education is the future. We want you to know that at the UNL College of Engineering, we are committed to providing your future, for the next 100 years.

–David H. Allen