14 September, 2021 / By: Tech Stewardship Team

TS+ Engineering Change Lab Canada

How is TS relevant to the Engineering Change Lab Canada?

The current relevance of TS to the Engineering Change Lab Canada (ECL) is rather obvious, as the concept of tech stewardship emerged from the ECL’s work, and the ECL led the charge to launch this platform and the Tech Stewardship Network.

But how did this come to be?  Here are some highlights from our more detailed history:

  • Something’s missing…. In 2014, leaders from Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB), Engineers Canada (EC), and Reos Partners met to discuss a “Social Lab” focused on the potential of engineering as a force for social good.
  • Do other engineers feel this way?  Did enough engineering community leaders feel strongly enough that something critical was missing and about the need for a new approach to help unlock it? 
  • What is engineering’s higher potential?  This was one of our guiding questions from the outset, but we realized that we had to first answer “What is engineering?”
  • What is engineering’s role in social change?  As we explored engineering’s connections to social challenges, we learned that many participants felt conflicted and confused about their engineering identities. They didn’t see opportunities to apply their engineering skills to solve societal problems
  • How to live the daily practice of a new paradigm? As Technological Stewardship began to take shape, our focus turned towards questions of practice
  • How do we drive to a tipping point where TS becomes the new normal?  The ECL’s “nested tipping points” strategy is based on research that shows that shifting 25% of people in a system (the innovators and early adopters) creates enough momentum that the rest of the system naturally follows. 

Deciding to help catalyze a larger movement… We started with a narrow focus on the engineering profession and slowly expanded our view as the larger necessity for tech stewardship became apparent.  This eventually led to the decision to launch the Tech Stewardship Network as a space where engineers could express collaborative leadership within the overarching TS challenge. 

What are the ECL’s greatest challenges around practicing TS?

There have been so many along the way!  At the moment, what is most challenging is striking a balance between focusing on TS+ Canada’s Engineering Community, and helping to catalyze the broader TS movement. 

Author: Mark Abbott, Executive Director, Engineering Change Lab

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