Engineering vs. Liberal Arts: Who’s Right—Bill or Steve?
When students asked what subjects they should major in to become a tech entrepreneur, I used to say engineering, mathematics, and science—because an education in these fields is the prerequisite for innovation, and because engineers make the best entrepreneurs.
That was several years ago.
I realized how much my views have changed when the The New York Times asked me to write a piece for its “Room for Debate” forum this week. The paper wanted me to comment on the divergence of opinion between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. In a speech before the National Governors Association on Feb 28, Gates had argued that we need to spend our limited education budget on disciplines that produce the most jobs. He implied that we should reduce our investment in the liberal arts because liberal-arts degrees don’t correlate well with job creation. Three days later, at the unveiling of the iPad 2, Steve Jobs said: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing, and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices”.
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Author: Vivek Wadhwa