Why is engineering invisible?

Why is engineering invisible and so often taken for granted?  (Updated November 28, 2014)

In the preface of the book I explain some reasons why engineering practice has been invisible for so long. A combination of perceptual barriers has diverted attention from the complex socio-technical processes that dominate practice for engineers. These are mostly needed for collaboration and coordination and even in a small venture, they demand most of an engineer’s personal time and effort. According to the best data we can find from research, both our own and that of many others, this effort requires at least 60% of an engineer’s time, often more.

Scrapers-lrEngineers are also invisible in photos, like this one, winner of the 2011 Engineers Australia photo competition “Images of Engineering” by Mark Zvirblis Abi Group Contractors 2010 (with permission)

Part of the problem is complexity. Recruitment advertisements for engineers repeatedly emphasise communication proficiencies but, in reality, communication skills are only the bottom layers of many proficiencies needed for technical collaboration. In the book, I have set out a structured series of collaboration performances that engineers enact for their work, and why they are so often seem to be invisible and taken for granted. Continue reading