THE ENGINEER'S PLACE AND WORK IN SOCIETY
The engineers of the past have earned a high
place in society for the engineers of today.
The engineers of today has two nain objectives *
One, uphold the position already mady by his predecessors
and two, advance societies position as well as his own to
a higher plane by his work.
Education, both theoretical ana practical, is the
engineers solution to this challenge at the present time.
THE ENGINEER'S PLACE AND WORK IN SOCIETY
"The physical evidences of engineering, bridges,
towers, etc., are only emblems. The true social signifigance
of engineering begins at the dawn of civilization-village life
was made possible only by engineering.'
After considering this statement, it must be conceded
that through engineering and engineering alone the nomadea
began to congregate In small groups and that thru the continual
advance of engineering these villages have become our large,
modern cities. Some will criticize these statements because to
them engineering is a transit, slide rule, and formula de luxe;
however, I am certain that they will agree when the term
"engineering" is defined. "Engineering deals with the forces
and materials provided by nature and adopts them to human
services for the satisfaction of human needs." 2
The engineer as the builder of society, and at the
present time a member in good standing, is entitled to a
certain amount of wealth and all respect, just <as, the other
professional men are; however, he does not seek wealth.
The average engineer is satisfied if he has an Income that
enables him to live comfortably and at the same time practice
in his chosen profession.
1. D. C. Jackson, E. E,, Th 9 Status of the Eng ineering
Pr ofessor . Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1939,
2. D. C Jackson, E. E. , The Status of the Engin eering
;r of ess or. Massachusetts Institute of - TecHnology, 1939.
All the student engineers with whom I have come in
contact have expressed the same fundamental idea -joy in their
work and freedom from want.
Is this the proper attitude for the men who in the
future will carry the torch of progress forward hy their
contribution to science and invention? Should this be the
aim of descendents of the founders and builders of social
progress? Definitely nol This negative is made not as a
selfish motive, but as a solution to one of the fundamental
difficulties experienced by all but a chosen few practicing
engineering as a means of furthering the presftnt social
system far beyond our wildest dreams. A majority of the
engineers today have well founded ideas or plans to make
this world an easier place to inhabit. Some inventions are
better than others, but how many ar« given to us? Suprising-
ly few --just the limited number produced by the "chosen few"
who are employed In the research laboratories of our large
engineering industries. It is Impossible for all those who
desire to do research work to be employed by Westlnghouse ,
General lilectric, Bell Laboratories, Allla Chalmers ,etc , ;
yet there are many who with a little capital would develop
Independently Implements that would accelerate social progress.
"Acceleration of progress Is very desirable but
records show that ' h'-iste makes waste' which retards progress. 1
The creative ability of man is a natural function, and
it can not be forced or squeezed out like juice from an orange.
The proper way to increase the wealth of hidden genius is to
provide the engineer with more than it tak ..a for him to live.
Some will say that, "Even though they (engineers) are employed,
on an average they make more than other private professional
men. What other private professional men contribute to their
profession? Still others will say, "Thru science and engi-
neering the essential paraphernalia of dictatorship are more
effective than ever before.* 6 The answer to this Is that,
even though engineering processes and devices are being abused
in warfare, it is not by the choice of the engineering pro-
There seems to be no way of furnishing the engi-
neer with this extra capital unless the employers raise the
pay of the engineer, which is very improbable; therefore, the
3. D. G» Jackson, S« ]•.., The St a tus of the Engineering
Professor . Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1939.
4. E. L. Brown, Thti Professional Engineer . Russell Sage
5. D, C. Jackson, E. E., The S tatus of the Engineeri ng
Professor. Massachusetts TifStTtute of Technology , 1939.
engineer should acquire as much education as possible from
books and practical work so he may take advantage of any
opportunity that presents itself. In this way the engineer
will be able to advance himself and society at the same time.
It is up to the faculty in engineering schools to acquaint the
future engineers with the importance of engineering in relation
to saciety and explain that the "obligation of the engineer to
himself is to develop the highest ethical aspects of engineer-
in,-;, since the only progr ss in the future is with engineering
as leader," 6
6. D. C, Jackson, E, E., The Status of th e Engine erin g
Professor . Massachusetts Institute of - ^ecTTnology', 1939.
Brown, E. L. The Professional Engineer . Russell Sage
Coonley, Howard. Making Democracy Work . Electrical
Engineering, July 1941.
Davie, Harvey N. Priorities In Men . Electrical
Engineering, June 1941 .
Jackson, D. C. The Status of the Engineering Professor .
Science Magazine, December 29, 1939.
Jewett, F. B. and King, R. W. Engineering Progress and th e
Social Order . Science Magazine, October <15, 1940