Engineering for a Changing World

Posted on December 13, 2007  Comments (1)

This interesting and long report (I have not finished reading it yet – 120 pages) has been completed by the President Emeritus of at The University of Michigan (and current University Professor of Science and Engineering): Engineering for a Changing World by James J. Duderstadt.

The fundamental knowledge undergirding engineering practice increasingly requires research at the extremes, from the microscopic level of nanotechnology to the mega level of global systems such as civil infrastructure, energy, and climate change as well as the mastery of new tools such as cyberinfrastructure and quantum engineering. It also requires far greater attention by government and industry to the support of the long-term basic engineering research necessary to build the knowledge base key to addressing society’s needs.

It is similarly essential to elevate the status of the engineering profession, providing it with the prestige and influence to play the role it must in an increasingly technology-driven world while creating sufficiently flexible and satisfying career paths to attract a diverse population of outstanding students. Of particular importance is greatly enhancing the role of engineers both in influencing policy and popular perceptions and as participants in leadership roles in government and business.

The inability of engineering to attract the best and brightest, as it does in most other nations, is due in part to the way engineering is perceived by prospective students, teachers, parents, and society more broadly (NSB, 2007). Society at large simply does not have an accurate perception of the nature of engineering. While the public associates engineers with economic growth and national defense, they fail to recognize the role of engineering in improving health, the quality of life, and the environment. They are relegated to the role of technicians rather than given the respect of other learned professions such as medicine and law. In sharp contrast to most other nations, one rarely finds engineers in leadership roles in business or government and hence they have relatively inadequate impact on the key strategic issues facing our nation and world.

Related: Science, Engineering and the Future of the American EconomyEngineering the Future EconomyChina’s Economic Science ExperimentEconomic Strength Through Technology LeadershipEducating the Engineer of 2020: NAE ReportThe Future is EngineeringMIT Engineering Education ChangesBest Research University Rankings (2007)Global Technology Leadership

One Response to “Engineering for a Changing World”

  1. Anonymous
    December 18th, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

    I certainly agree that it is “essential to elevate the status of the engineering profession.” One way to do that is to encourage and promote licensure. Obtaining a state license, becoming a “Professional Engineer” (PE), takes a level of competence and commitment to engineering. Using the suffix “PE” after an engineer’s name should enhanced their status in the eyes of the public, which equates the engineer with professionals licensed in other fields.

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