Clearly, many of the recommendations in this report are geared toward the long term. They require fundamental research and broad support. However, ENG and other sectors of the engineering community are poised to enact many of these ideas – funding, administrative approval, and proper guidance are all that are necessary to proceed.
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Appendix 1: Get ENG’s Communities Involved Engineering enables the production of goods and services that make our modern standard of living possible. The infrastructure and technologies that make the United States competitive depend on engineers to innovate and implement scientific and engineering discoveries that translate knowledge into physical goods and services.
E Impact of Engineering Innovation The products of engineering innovation represent wealth that can be used either to improve everyday life, or to discover new scientific knowledge. From microcircuits and computers, to bridges and skyscrapers, engineers move science into day-to-day products that improve our standard of living. Engineering develops improvements in agricultural machinery for more efficient food production and distribution, new building materials for housing that conserve energy, and improve our standard of living. Engineers develop sanitation systems that provide clean water. Engineers design new medical devices to enable early discovery of life threatening illnesses. They develop new computers that perform complex tasks and procedures, and improve banking and communications services. Products and services that depend on engineering include: appliances, furniture, clothing, energy production, transportation, and entertainment. As the beneficiaries of these goods and services, we should understand that engineering makes our modern standard of living possible.
ngineers give us so much, but society takes them for granted. The engineering community needs to raise public awareness and appreciation for what engineers provide. So how can this be done?
The National Academy of Engineering’s study [NAE, Davis and Gibbin, 2002] points out that many organizations (colleges and universities, engineering societies, museums, national laboratories, etc.) are doing outreach to educate the public on the benefits of engineering. It is estimated that the expenditures could be as much as $400 million. So why isn’t the public better informed? The NAE study observes that most of the outreach efforts have been local and regional with no coordination at a national level [NAE, Davis and Gibbin, 2002].
It is therefore recommended that a coordinated national campaign be initiated to promote public awareness of the benefits of engineering to the national economy. A national understanding of the contribution of engineering should be developed and promoted by all engineering professionals (at the highest levels), e.g. CEOs, Deans of Engineering, government executives.
The economic and social impact of engineering should be explained through the media (web, speeches, newspapers, radio, and television). National laboratories, university research labs, as well as small businesses are constantly developing new innovative engineering projects. Good practice would be to invite local media to showcase these projects to educate local, state, and federal officials as well as the general public. Most importantly, we need to rebuild our nation’s engineering workforce. As the engineering workforce is aging, we need to be concerned with how we can prepare the next generation for developing the next generation of technology.
Sir Isaac Newton developed the scientific knowledge required to get us to the Moon, but it was engineering that built the rockets and spacecraft that actually got us there. The national pride of getting into space exploration was the principal causative agent for the rise in the enrollment in engineering schools [Trends, 2002]. This same sense of pride needs to be revived today. The engineering community (government, academe, and industry) collectively should coordinate their message and resources to maximize public awareness of the role that engineering plays in society.