The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Collaboration proves vital for global problem solving

In a globally connected world with access to more technology than any other time in history, we have an opportunity for unimaginable technological advancements and profound social problem solving. Given the diversity of our information and the broad context of our goals, the progress we will see will be the result of interdisciplinary teams. If we want to rise to this level of achievement, interdisciplinary problem solving should be a part of our higher education.

Jerome Gilbert, Provost and Executive Vice President of Mississippi State University, said higher education is the vehicle by which we train the next generation of leaders in all areas of society. That includes areas in the workforce, government, social services and private industry. Furthermore, a great deal of society’s new knowledge, ideas and advances are made through higher education.

“We in higher education are the keepers of the knowledge and the creators of the new knowledge,” Gilbert said.

According to him, undergraduate research will increase in fruitfulness as our undergraduates are encouraged to work on projects that bring together diverse disciplines.

“The eco car is a great example where the engineers worked with the communication group and business group. Mathematicians, physicists, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers, among others, worked on the project because the mechanical engineers didn’t know how to do the electrical control system of the car, and the electrical engineers didn’t know how to do the mechanical systems of the drive train,” Gilbert said.

Some of our brightest students have interdisciplinary visions for their futures. 

Katye Miller, senior civil engineering major and vice president of MSU’s chapter of American Society of Civil Engineers, plans to use her engineering degree as a springboard for a career in environmental law. She believes the goal of higher education is to make students think, not just to teach them how to complete certain specific tasks.

“I feel like engineering gives you an opportunity to analyze and critique things, and I believe having that advantage going into law will help me as much as any other degree may,” Miller said. 

Sally White is a sophomore pursuing a double major in microbiology and biological sciences with a minor in English. She said her experiences with the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) club have been a great interdisciplinary and global experience.

“I’m going with EWB to Zambia this summer, and we’re installing three wells. I’ve been involved with this since freshman year when I was an engineering major,” White said.

“When I switched majors, I didn’t want to give it up because it’s a good organization. Just because I’m not an engineer doesn’t mean I can’t see technical problems around the world and still want to help fix that. So now I’m a microbiology major who is vice president of EWB,” White said.

Bradley Mason, sophomore biomedical engineering major, said what he hears engineers most often failing at is their business knowledge. Instead of accepting this weakness, Mason became vice president of the Entrepreneurship Club, and he is working on his Engineering Entrepreneurship Certification. According to Mason, engineering students must go beyond the curriculum if they aspire to excellence.

“If people just want to go be engineers, then yes, I feel like (Bagley College) facilitates that goal, but with the way the world is changing, people are required to know a lot more about other fields such as English or business…” Mason said. “I think it depends on the student. If the student wants to be average, then yes, but if we are trying to create exemplary students who will be going out into the work force, then no, we are not meeting our goal.”

Mason said he is excited about the interdisciplinary opportunities becoming available at MSU through the honors college and extracurricular organizations. Gilbert is also enthusiastic about the future and said MSU will see an increase in interdisciplinary training of students in the future.

“I think there will be more and more good examples of a natural merging or coming together of disciplines to solve or attack problems,” Gilbert said.

Solving major problems or succeeding in today’s market requires a diverse team that can work cohesively. MSU seems to value the development of interdisciplinary collaboration, and the future accordingly promises to produce new joint efforts in attacking problems.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Collaboration proves vital for global problem solving