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  1. Andrew L. Ayers says: August 31, 20108:24 am

    Yeah…and I was never offered a pension, either…

  2. Myles says: August 31, 20108:55 am

    Hmm, “Civil Engineering” or “Good English”, which to choose?

  3. Kosher Ham says: August 31, 201010:48 am

    I wonder if I.C.S. is properly accredited or is it merely a diploma mill? It’s not unlike getting certificates for a technology that may obsolete in 5 years. Steam Engines? More recently how about a certified Novell engineer? You hardly hear about Novell these days with computers.

  4. Firebrand38 says: August 31, 201012:04 pm

    Still around, just recently renamed to Penn Foster Career School http://www.pennfoster.e…


  5. GaryM says: August 31, 201012:07 pm

    ICS did lots of advertising in its time, but I don’t know how good it was. I don’t think it was either “accredited” or a “diploma mill”; that is (AFAIK), it had real correspondence courses, but I don’t think it ever claimed to give college degrees.

  6. Andrew L. Ayers says: August 31, 201012:47 pm

    I want to know how it is possible to become a “Power Plant Engineer” (just one of the examples, though) through a correspondence school? One would think such a thing might require a bit of hands-on experience…right? I can just see it – you sign up, 30 days later a textbook and a large truck with a powerplant on it arrives in your driveway…

  7. Firebrand38 says: August 31, 20101:18 pm

    Andrew L. Ayers: Here is the course on Steel Casting. I don’t think that they supplied a foundry to go with it

  8. Firebrand38 says: August 31, 20102:19 pm

    And it turns out that under the new name they still offer a course in Power Plant Engineer (and no they still don’t wheel a power plant up to your house)


  9. Andrew L. Ayers says: August 31, 20102:20 pm

    Well, of course not, FB – I do tend to wonder, though, how many of these “book learned” tradesmen went out, landed a job, and then were nearly immediately fired for not having a clue as to what they were doing…? Did ICS publish some kind of disclaimer? Were those who took the courses expected to “learn on the job” during or after the course (quite possible, I imagine)? What was the difference between these courses and picking up a textbook (used or at the library)?

  10. Kosher Ham says: August 31, 20104:55 pm

    In some cases these correspondence schools may be good if you want a license, for example FCC “First Phone.” Power plant operators may require a state license if not federal. In this case they are trying to prepare you to pass a test.

  11. hwertz says: August 31, 20107:44 pm

    “Well, of course not, FB – I do tend to wonder, though, how many of these “book learned” tradesmen went out, landed a job, and then were nearly immediately fired for not having a clue as to what they were doing…? Did ICS publish some kind of disclaimer?”

    I don’t know. But, well, I can’t think of ANY school that has a power plant sitting around that they’ll let students practice on. (The U of Iowa for instance has a hydroelectric generator, but it’s actually used to make power, so Facilities Services runs it, not students.) I’d assume a plant hiring would have to provide on-the-job training (in fact, even if the person they are hiring already worked at another plant, they’d probably be different enough they’d need training), but would prefer someone that at least HAS the book learning over somebody that knows absolutely nothing about power plants.

  12. Firebrand38 says: August 31, 20108:08 pm

    I guess the best summary is by ICS:

    “Our courses are all prepared from a utilitarian standpoint; that is, it is always kept in view that the reason the student is taking one of our courses is that he desires to put the knowledge obtained into immediate practical use. We are not aiming to train the mind, but to give the student such information regarding the principles, theory, and practice as he can use with the position he is aiming to fill”


  13. Andrew L. Ayers says: August 31, 20109:27 pm

    Hmm – hwertz, FB – seems to make sense on both accounts; I guess if you are in a position somewhere, and looking to advance in your field but don’t have the time or money to go thru regular training or schooling (ie, college or university), then correspondence courses might be a way to improve your knowledge to make that next step…

  14. Kosher Ham says: September 1, 201010:17 am

    Well actually I do have the time and the money; I graduated from college back in 1981. I’m in the process of deciding just how I want to continue my education, after being laid off the defense aerospace sector due to the changes in the political wind in Washington over the last couple years.

  15. Toronto says: September 1, 201010:39 am

    Kosher: I don’t recommend you take a job in steam plant maintenance or buggy whip trimming. But “wind” is good and might even have some transference from your current skills.

    Hwerts: My school *did* have a power plant for students. No nukes, though, but some of the Chem/Nuke guys got some OJT at a Candu in their senior year.

  16. Arglebarglefarglegleep says: September 1, 20103:38 pm

    Nuclear power and coal plants still use steam.… Steam plants aren’t going away any time soon. Steam is also used industrially especially in food preparation. http://www.nysaes.corne… & http://www.steamenginee…

    Gas turbines & hydroelectric are ‘non steam’ major electric plants. And a lot of generation facilities burning gas are using it to heat water for steam. Solar, wind and wave power are just becoming main stream for power. And people are trying to figure out how to level the natural sources of power such as…

  17. Kosher Ham says: September 1, 20103:54 pm

    My alma mater, Cal Poly, SLO had a nuclear reactor on campus. I think the future is in photo voltaics rather than windmills, at least in the south west.

  18. Longhorn Baller says: September 2, 201012:29 am

    I went to, and graduated from Reed College, B.S. in Physics, Mathematics and a minor in Recreation (with an emphasis in Alternative Massage.)

    After Reed, I earned my Doctorate in Economics from the University of Oregon. Great Economics program the U of O.

    Reed has a real-Live nuclear reactor, we like to call the ‘Reed Reactor.’…

    Dudes — I finally got a key to the Reed Reactor in my third year. This meant I could access the joint at any hour I wished. There is a _great_ 70’s, early 80’s style lounge-Green Room with a cool min-bar (re-upped by key-holders.)

    The freshman dudes (sooo smooth, silky) and dudettes (sooo voluptuous) were like ‘yeah, right, show me…’ But once they entered the lounge…the Promised Land (lounge-green room), They _Were_ Mine.


  19. nonick says: September 2, 20101:17 am

    I have my dad’s ICS textbooks. He took ICS courses and learned trigonometry and celestial navigation when he had a job on the Great Lakes and when he wanted a land-based career he took courses that got him a license to tend boilers. That was in the 1930s.

  20. Firebrand38 says: September 2, 20106:23 am

    Longhorn Baller: No one cares.

  21. hwertz says: September 2, 20108:33 am

    *shrug*. I think it’s kind of cool that a nuclear reactor would include a green room 😎

    Regarding solar, that might end up being steam too — there are not THAT high efficiency photovoltaics yet, one of the higher efficiency designs right now is a thermal tower, where a few square miles of mirrors concentrate sunlight, heat up molten salt (which is stored in a thermally insulated tank), and that molten salt is used to run a steam power generator.

  22. jayessell says: September 2, 20109:15 am

    Maybe it was so the tradesmen who ALREADY were working the machines would have the ‘book learnrin’ the executives and governement demanded.

  23. Charlie says: September 5, 201010:23 am

    Wow, I live about a mile from Reed. I had no idea they had a nuclear reactor on campus! Thanks Longhorn.

  24. George says: September 5, 20104:28 pm

    Worcester Polytech has a reactor, but I don’t think it’s in use anymore. It is unique, though, as it is the world’s only reactor in a wood frame building.

    Let’s see…

    Introducing our new course: “Atomic Carpenter”

  25. Scott B. says: September 7, 20107:13 am

    Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta got a nuclear reactor for research in 1963. It was decommissioned a few years ago. Friends of mine who went to Tech in the ’80s were sort of proud Tech had it (though none of them ever worked with it).

  26. Charlene says: September 8, 20103:30 am

    ICS was not for people that could afford the time or money for university. This was a private trade school.

    In the old days, most people didn’t attend university. Most people didn’t graduate from high school! My dad had Grade Four; my mother was considered a high-faulting snotty little snob (and a pathetic old maid) because she didn’t leave school on her fourteenth birthday and marry at sixteen.

    I’m amazed by people who assume that even today university is available to all. But fifty years ago??

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