A Big Question

How are we going to adapt engineering education to prepare coming generations of engineers for climate warming and the need to protect people and infrastructure? How can we prepare them to re-engineer almost our entire civilisation to eliminate greenhouse and other harmful emissions in 25 years?

As you would know, I often write about engineers and engineering, and education issues. However, I have usually stopped short of specific recommendations, relying on my books and articles to convey ideas that educators can use.

Next week I am speaking at a panel discussion at Engineers Australia Perth on Wednesday March 31, 5:30 – 8pm. Register here to join in the discussion and contribute your ideas, or if you cannot join us then, reply to this post.

I have 5 minutes to start the discussion… what do you think I should I emphasise?

Well, here are the ideas I plan to touch on.

  • Productivity: if we don’t teach engineers that their fundamental role is to enable people to do more with less time, effort, resources, energy etc, in other words improve productivity, we can’t expect significant improvement. And that’s exactly what economists are reporting – see this post.
  • Need for an agreed “backbone” workplace learning curriculum common across most engineering disciplines
  • Graduates inherit independent work habits from formal education, whereas workplace requires inter-dependent work habits
  • Engineering requires specialised collaboration methods, beyond team work
  • Knowing how to create commercial value from engineering work practices will help employers’ profitability
  • Capability to argue for sustainability improvements requires understanding of regulatory risks and value creation
  • Aboriginal notion of ‘country’ could be helpful in promoting sustainable practices