ts engineering
20 September, 2021 / By: Tech Stewardship Team

TS+ Engineering

The flip side of engineering’s strength of practical problem solving, is that on the whole the profession does not spend a lot of time critically reflecting on the nature of engineering and its impacts.  

This root deficiency results in many symptoms, ranging from a naive hubris, to disconnected reform efforts that are struggling to reach tipping points, to a tendency to be inwardly focused and siloed when engineers consider the future of their profession.

One simple understanding is the key to addressing the root deficiency.

At a fundamental level…

Engineering is the process of creating artifact (object or tool) based technology. 

This understanding helps weave the story of engineering into the bigger story of society’s relationship with our technologies, and the imperative / opportunity for tech stewardship.  

Especially when one also understands technology in the more fundamental way that is promoted by this platform, this understanding of engineering also highlights the responsibility and opportunity for the engineering profession to express leadership in the tech stewardship movement.  To recognize and then share responsibly the immense power we wield as we create and apply technologies.  

Key to sharing our power responsibly is establishing more meaningful connections with a wide diversity of backgrounds.  In particular between the engineers who create technologies, and the branches of the social sciences who specialize in understanding the complex relationship between those technologies and society (i.e. Philosophy of Technology, Critical Media Studies, STS, etc…).  Also to Indigenous Elders and Leaders who can offer radically different understandings of the nature of “engineering” and “technology” to challenge dominant understandings in a constructive manner.  

Author: Mark Abbott, Executive Director, Engineering Change Lab Canada

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