Engineers make things happen and no one notices them when everything works reliably and smoothly. You could replace engineers in that sentence by managers. Managers are responsible for people and organisations while engineers are responsible for the systems that underpin modern life. You can pair scientists and leaders in the same way. Scientists discover new knowledge which sets a direction for the future of technology while leaders create a vision for their organisation which also sets the direction for the future. Then engineers and managers turn the imagined futures into reality. Of course the divisions are fuzzy. Some of us would be considered engineering scientists because we work at the interface between science and engineering. And many engineers spend more time managing people and organisations than practising engineering. However, the bottom-line is that engineers and managers are responsible for the functioning of modern society and deserve greater recognition for their successes; if only to ensure a continuous and diverse flow of talented young people into the professions. So, here are two Liverpool engineers that have made the news recently for their contributions to engineering: Chris Sutcliffe who was awarded a prestigious Silver Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering for his role in driving the development of metal 3D printed implants for use in human and veterinary surgery; and Kate Black who was named as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering for her work on the development of novel functional materials, using inkjet printing, for the manufacture of electronic and optoelectronic devices.
See ‘Happenstance, not engineering?‘ on November 9th, 2016 for an explanation of why people are quick to assign blame when things go wrong and slow to praise when things go well – it’s all about the relative number of sites in the brain capable of blame and praise.