Skip to main content

Full text of "The engineer's place and work in society / by Thomas Witkowski."

See other formats



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 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 

H 4 
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 
Foundation, 1936. 

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 
Foundation, 1936. 

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