We all like to search for truth, meaning, and an understanding of ‘why we are here’ or ‘if what we do matters’ and ultimately, ‘am I making things better?’ So I wrote an article bringing up that exact point for the entire engineering field:
In a discussion with a non-technical and environmentally-minded friend about the engineering education program I run for high schoolers (BlueStamp Engineering) he asked,
“Do you really think that training more engineers is the solution to our problems? It seems that many of our problems today are a result of ‘solutions’ engineers found over the last 100 years. Pollution, global warming, long-distance wars, oil spills, etc… What is to say that the ‘progress’ your well-trained engineers achieve will only cause the next set of big problems?”
He didn’t mean this as a slight at the engineering profession. It was a well-thought out question, and I have to agree that without engineering none of the problems he listed would be an issue. After all, if these problems are allowed to grow at their current pace, there exists a point in the future where the planet is so stricken by war waged with WMDs and/or life-hindering pollution that humanity would be better off if scientific progress never occurred.
I’m sure that this debate has raged on for many professions. Politics, medicine, and most recently, finance could all be analyzed against this ‘absolute measure’…….