Apparently, violent jihadists are more likely to have been trained as engineers than to have attained degrees in other areas of higher ed. Three or four times as likely. Is this because terrorist organizations have the foresight to recruit highly trained technical experts?
Hertog and Gambetta argue in the New Scientist (and based on a peer-reviewed journal article) that instead it's due, in part, to the personality/cognitive traits that attract certain individuals to engineering in the first place. They found that the reason is
something at the individual level, that is, relating to cognitive traits. According to polling data, engineering professors in the US are seven times as likely to be right-wing and religious as other academics, and similar biases apply to students. In 16 other countries we investigated, engineers seem to be no more right-wing or religious than the rest of the population, but the number of engineers combining both traits is unusually high. A lot of piecemeal evidence suggests that characteristics such as greater intolerance of ambiguity, a belief that society can be made to work like clockwork, and dislike of democratic politics which involves compromise, are more common among engineers.
What we philosophers can take away from this is the importance of teaching ethics to engineers. And teaching it in a way that demonstrates comfort with ambiguity (not the same as relativism) and the difficulty of working through humanistic problems rather than jumping to some supposed take-home message. (My engineering students are the first to ask "Is this stuff going to be on the final exam? And if it is, what's the right answer supposed to be?")