Most of the things that engineers do are taken for granted. I would like to think that we are so good at it that people don’t notice anymore. Occasionally things go wrong and we get the blame but almost everything you do in life from the moment you are born is shaped by engineering. A structural engineer designed the structure in which you were born, a team of mechanical engineers designed the vehicle you made your first journey in, if you needed medication a team of chemical engineers designed the factory that produced them and so on through life. You can repeat the process for an average day – who designed the production system that made the bed you slept on, the alarm clock that woke you, runs the utilities that provided hot water to wash in, designed the supply chain that delivered food to your breakfast table and so on through the day? Yes, engineers.
Maybe engineering is so ubiquitous that it is difficult to grasp its essence. The engineering community spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually to promote public understanding of engineering with little measurable impact on young people, according to the US National Academy of Engineering. Their report called ‘Changing the Conversation‘ recommends using four tag-lines to promote engineering:
1. Engineers make a world of difference.
2. Engineers are creative problem solvers.
3. Engineers help shape the future.
4. Engineering is essential to our health, happiness and safety.
About 40% of their survey groups found these tag-lines ‘very appealing’. So perhaps none of them really resonated. Oh, but now I am being an engineer and analysing the data in order to make a very rational, reasoned decision when instead I should be employing my creative, imaginative side. Maybe we are back to poetaster engineers [see my posting on ‘Poetasting engineers‘ on March 4th, 2015]. As a profession we are not good with words [see last week’s posting entitled ‘Reader, Reader, Reader] and cannot dream up a catchy memorable tag-line.
What do you think?