Letter to the Editor

The real economics of engineering

I find it highly discourteous and shortsighted of Donald Parsons in his recent op-ed to recommend that the University should do away with its engineering school. An economics professor should know better; engineers drive innovation and technological change, and the United States needs more engineering research and trained graduates to maintain our competitiveness in the global economy.

I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SEAS, and I was also honored to receive a partial merit scholarship toward my undergraduate degree, a scholarship that Parsons arrogantly described as “a large drain on the tuition payments of GW students in more successful programs.” SEAS is an excellent school that has adapted its curriculum to stay current with the changing fields of engineering and technology by expanding programs like biomedical engineering, cyber security and transportation safety. Finally, SEAS is comprised of a student body of exceptional diversity. International students represent more than 25 countries; 9 percent of undergraduates are African-American; and one out of every three engineering students is female. Why would GW want to shut the doors on a program that has such bright prospects?

Tompkins Hall has been in serious need of replacement for a long time, and SEAS is one of the last departments on campus to be slated to get a new building. The proposed Science and Engineering Complex is a key element for the continued improvement of SEAS. The SEC has been the object of professor Parsons’ ire for several years now. Perhaps he should find a new topic for his neverending complaints.

Rachel Usdan, chair of the GW Engineering Alumni Association

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