I wrote this editorial years agos (about 1988). The concerns expressed continue to grow: Engineers Turn Good Ideas into Good Sense The continuing efforts by academia and other professions to map the Profession to a particular set of course work indicates that we are still needed - not to provide the definition for that curriculum, but to provide a perspective, and a vision for the future! Those of us who really do carry on that vision, continue a tradition which has brought the world from the dark ages into the present. The Profession does not represent a kind of practical application of science. Professional Engineers are a minority of the Engineering Profession, and this should continue. The title of PE is earned by demonstrating a focus on currently accepted practices, when these practices are by their very nature transitory, like the world around us. Engineers build cultures. We provide the sensible blueprints by which we continue to recreate the world, and we are our only tools. Former generations rightly separated Engineers from the Draftsman, the Technician, the Architect, and the Operating Engineer. These titles should be a matter of pride to those who qualify, but none of them are Engineers, however many Corporations designate them as such, nor however many Universities grant them Engineering Degrees. Now we have the Computer Programmer, who is not an Engineer, although quite a few Systems Analysts are! When our culture stops producing Engineers, and instead succeeds in identifying these other professions as Professional Engineers; when being an Engineer means having completed the accepted curriculum, rather than having created a lasting monument to the Age - our culture will have passed into history. The Profession has witnessed this throughout history: Egyptians built massive structures to exacting specifications while there culture was replaced; Romans built excellent roads and aqueducts while their culture was replaced; and medieval Masons produced wonderful Cathedrals while their culture was replaced. The details are not where the Profession should focus. We must focus on our vision, but know where to find the facts and standards. When a culture begins to insist that a set curriculum is a prerequisite for building a vision, a new vision will appear - in the form of Engineers who will build the new world. The Engineering Degree must remain an indication that the recipient was taught how to become an Engineer. It does not indicate that the recipient is an Engineer yet. Changes to the curricula of Engineering Schools are undermining the ability of our culture to focus on improvement. The Engineering student today is expected to learn material which will be obsolete within a few years, but is not taught how to keep up with the various fields which comprise our Profession. The answer to this dilemma is a return to a focus on fundamentals, not a move to longer matriculation, separated from the world we must continue to build. Teach 'em how to learn, and throw 'em into the fray! Don't try to teach them what to do, that's what they'll be teaching us before long - if they are really Engineers. A widely recognized level of achievement is the appropriate measure of success for Engineers. Recognition of individuals by their Professional Society as a Senior Member is one form of recognition. Being asked more than once to present their views at a gathering of their peers is another. A continuing level of accomplishment, as recognized by employers who continue to value their contributions - not advancement, but just "holding on" demonstrates success. Most important is being able to point to things tangible - and honestly say those things would not be there, if not for their vision.
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