I recently read this artical in the Eureka design magazine and thought this nicely summed up engineering today.
When Business Secretary Vince Cable’s recently expressed shock that that 49% of seven to 11 year-olds think it would be boring to be an engineer, it is tempting to think he may have been the only one in the room who was at all surprised.Can the poor image of the profession that has been allowed to seep through to our media and educational establishments really come as a surprise to anyone? Indeed, some may have been surprised the figure was that low.There is no point in me iterating all the reasons why this perception is wrong, of course. I would be preaching to the converted and going over old ground. However, it is worth pointing out that at least part of the problem is semantic in origin. In general parlance, ‘engineer’ as a term has come to mean anything from a washing machine repairman to the someone who puts in a telephone line. So it seems fair to wonder what these children thought was meant by the term when they decided it was a boring thing to do for a living?Perhaps engineers themselves are to some extent to blame for this problem? After all, ask yourself how you may have represented what you do to others over the years? Have you perhaps failed to give as positive an impression of engineering as you might have done? I suppose one thing Mr Cable’s surprise may achieve is to help him understand the scale of the challenge facing his Government in changing the image of engineering. After all, the Coalition Government has taken a number of positive steps in relation to manufacturing, engineering and vocational education since it came to power. However, while Eureka has generally been supportive of these actions, it is perhaps a little too much to hope that they will have been able to undo in a few months the damage that several decades of neglect have done.
Included with the kind permission of Paul Fanning (Eureka magazine editor)