The pressures at engineering school

We had about one suicide per year when I attended WPI in the mid-1970’s. Maybe it’s the student loans?

{{ One morning, I attended a session of Katherine Foo’s course on “Smart and Sustainable Cities,” which began with a technique she has been using for the last year: She sounded a singing bowl three times and asked everyone to take three deep breaths each time. As the reverberations from the bowl slowly fell silent, Foo went alphabetically by last name down the roster, asking each student to tell the group his or her name and to add a word describing how they felt. One by one, the students responded.

“I’m feeling relaxed.”

“I’m feeling stressed.”

“I’m feeling hydrated.” }}

We weren’t required to attend class when I attended WPI in the 1970’s. If you thought you could learn Fluid Mechanics by just reading the textbook, have at it.

The “singing bowl”, and deep breathing exercises would have driven me to suicide.


Mental illness affects people in their late teens entering adulthood.

It is not the money generally. People fail out of college with debt and are not suicidal. It takes the formation of ideations to be suicidal.

So you ridicule it because you don’t believe it would help you?

What approach would you suggest for students who are so stressed out they turn to suicide? What should school administrators do? Just keep going because those suicides are weeding out the weak students?

I say good for the school for doing something. Far too many would do nothing at all.



Suicidal ideations are not about stress. People have stress and are not suicidal.

The administration is very caring. Might have had a higher prevalence of suicidal students, saw it, and worked on helping the students.

I think it’s a problem throughout academia.

When I was at WPI in the mid-1970’s, they seemed to run a pretty tight ship with a minimum of bureaucracy. Tuition and room & board was about $5,000/yr. Professors were prohibited from taking class attendance. Your grades were based on handing in the homework and taking the exams. They mentioned the major project work requirements in the article. We also had a 2-Day Comprehensive Exam that determined whether you graduated, which about 30% of the students failed on the first attempt. They were required to stay an extra semester or two for remedial training, before a second attempt at the Comp Exam was permitted.

One prominent phrase in the student manual was “the University will not act in loco-parentis”, which I believe is Latin for “you’re on your own”.

In the intervening 50 years, I have noticed a massive increase in bureaucracy, and lower academic standards. The Comp Exam is gone, while tuition, room & board is now $80,000/yr. All this emphasis on “well being” is making college more expensive. You’re not going to Retire Early with that kind of student debt.

I agree with the right-wing critiques on this issue.



That has nothing to do with suicide.

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Bill Maher learns about the NYU “Bias Report Hotline”


Quite a few current WPI students are commenting on the article. The “Wellness Center” next to the main cafeteria is at best a 2*star attraction.

A grad student from another college said that all the signs around campus (especially in the bathrooms) with the Suicide Hotline 800 number were giving him more thoughts of suicide.


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Sad comment but not how it works. You have never heard of a young person blaming others?