Let’s Face It – Engineers Contribute to Society More Than We Know

Lets Face It – Engineers Contribute to Society More Than We Know

Engineering Has Always Made Significant Contributions to Society

When Steve Jobs hired John Scully from Pepsi to Apple, the story is often told, he asked if he wanted to “sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or come with me and change the world?” Are engineers altering the world?

In this context, engineering is commonly characterized as anyone who constructs new technology. (Not, as one company in England said a few years ago, a man who will come and reset your TV set.) This is perhaps a broader concept than that current in, for example, Germany, where a trained specialist who has some sort of regulatory or legislative approval is reserved for the title engineer.

The planet is becoming a place where the human population is becoming more crowded, more consuming, more polluting, more connected, and, in many respects, less diverse than at any time in history (now more than six billion). There is a rising awareness that people are changing the natural structures of the Planet at all levels, from local to global, at an unparalleled pace, changes that can only be compared to events that marked the great transformations in the geobiological eras of the history of the Earth.

Our Modern World Requires Engineers to Function

Behind all is engineering, from mobile phones and make-up to the car you are riding in and the shoes on your feet. Engineering, like building, transport, cosmetics, pharmacy, food, fashion, and much more, makes up an exciting variety of companies and industries.

Engineers operate in all sorts of settings, including outdoor to underground workplaces, laboratories, and film studios. Today, engineering is closely related to technology and plays a major role in many technical devices and developments. This magazine was created on a highly advanced printing system that can run thousands of copies an hour thanks to engineers. That is just one example of how your life today has been influenced by an engineer.

The range of engineering offerings is not known to most young people. For 12- to 16-year-olds to learn about life as an engineer, more attempts must be made. Big corporations are the first to confess that they haven’t done enough to say what engineering is all about to young students. For 12- to 16-year-olds, just 11 percent know what engineers do. And when they were surveyed, only 17 percent agreed with the statement “I have seen/heard more about the engineering industry over the past year.” Too many 12- to 16-year-olds assume that engineering is about having their hands dirty, and they are correct to some degree, but if you want to, some jobs will allow you to do that.

However, engineering covers a wide variety of fields that could require on-site visits and realistic construction work, or it could mean assessing safety systems from the comfort of your office. Tech developers, who may work from home, are no more likely than bank managers to get their hands dirty.

Engineering Makes a Large Contribution

Normal people typically don’t spend much time worrying about how their lives have been affected by engineering. Yet, the transformation of society because of engineering in just the last 100 years is nothing short of breathtaking. The world was not electrified in 1900; the aeroplane had just made its first flight; Ford had just opened its assembly line to make cars affordable; few people had telephones; the average life span was 46, mostly due to unclean water and bad sanitation; there was no radio, television, computers and the Internet, and the list goes on.

Engineers’ contributions to society are not slowing down. Indeed, the speed and effect of technological advancement seem to be increasing-the penetration that took the radio 60 years to accomplish was reached by the World Wide Web in 10.

Major Engineer Achievements of This Century

A respected jury of the world’s top engineers has chosen and rated 20 engineering accomplishments that have had the greatest impact on the quality of life in the 20th century. Here is the list of accomplishments in full.

  1. Electrification-the massive energy networks powering the developing world.
  2. By making automobiles more durable and accessible to the masses, automotive-revolutionary manufacturing practices made the automobile the world’s main mode of transportation.
  3. Flying made the globe available by aircraft, spurring globalization on a wide scale.
  4. Healthy and Plentiful Water prevents the disease from spreading and increases life expectancy.
  5. Vacuum tubes and, later, transistors that underlie almost all modern life are electronics.
  6. Radio and television have significantly altered the way information and entertainment are received by the world.
  7. Agricultural mechanization leads to a much larger, cleaner, less expensive supply of food.
  8. Computers are at the core of the many events and processes that influence our lives.
  9. Telephone: changing the way the world interacts both personally and in a company.
  10. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration increases the shelf life of food and drugs, preserves electronics, and plays an important role in the delivery of health care, beyond comfort.
  11. Interstate Highways-44,000 kilometers of U.S. highway for delivery of products and personal access.
  12. Space exploration has vastly extended the horizons of mankind to outer space and has launched 60,000 new goods on Earth.
  13. The Internet is a global web of unprecedented access to communication and information.
  14. Revolutionized medical diagnostics: Imaging Technology.
  15. Household appliances, especially for women, have removed strenuous and laborious tasks.
  16. Mass development of antibiotics and artificial implants in health technology has contributed to vast changes in health.
  17. The fuels that energized the 20th century were Petroleum and Gas Technologies.
  18. Laser and Fiber Optics applications, including almost simultaneous global communications, non-invasive surgery, and point-of-sale scanners, are broad and diverse.
  19. Nuclear systems also gained a new source of electric power from the splitting of the atom.
  20. Materials of high performance-higher quality, lighter, stronger, and more adaptable.

Do Software Engineers Make a Difference in Our Lives

By enhancing communication, automating routine tasks, and writing software that has, profoundly, changed the music industry, software engineers have already changed the world.

This is not about a world-changing software engineer; it is technology in general that makes it possible to construct sustainable projects that will bring people out of poverty. The argument is that part of this is engineers. To process the immense quantities of information they go through, they have created custom software, i.e. if you scan loads of documents in a sequence, you have to figure out where each document starts and ends. It is also important to tag the documents all and have the title extracted.

Since they are not related to the physical environment, software engineers may also have greater innovation rates. Their only limitation is time. Other areas are more constrained by materials and manpower.

Prospects for Software Engineers

According to the most recent U.S. figures, The median pay for software engineers in 2010 was $90,530 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And software engineering demand is growing, with an expected growth rate of 30 percent between 2010 and 2020, more than double the average growth rate of 14 percent for all occupations.

However, great pay and ample work prospects are not the only elements that make the profession of software engineer an enviable place in IT. Software engineers need teamwork, innovative thinking, and hands-on creativity that can contribute to an ever-evolving career path.

The number of working software engineers has risen more than 25 percent in the past decade, from 745,000 in 2001 to 1,206,000 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to BLS data, the earning potential for software engineers is also high, with both computer systems and software application engineers averaging more than $90,000 in annual wages in 2009. (see table below).


One hundred years ago, with current communications technology, life was a relentless battle against the disease, pollution, erosion, treacherous working conditions, and vast cultural divides unbreakable. By the end of the 20th century, the planet, largely because of engineering advances, had become a healthier, safer, and more prosperous environment.

Engineers have a common obligation to better the lives of individuals around the world. It should be a priority for the engineering profession to create a sustainable environment that provides a safe, stable, healthy, profitable, and sustainable existence for all people. It is the responsibility of engineers to meet the basic needs of all human beings for water, sanitation, food, health and electricity, and to safeguard cultural and natural diversity. It is no longer a choice to better the lives of the five billion people whose main concern is staying alive each day; it is a duty.

One of the biggest problems facing the engineering profession today is training engineers to become facilitators of sustainable growth, appropriate technology, and social and economic changes.

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