Part I Engineering - past and present
Part II Sewerage case study
Part III The new engineer and social responsibility
The image and status of the engineering profession is declining as the public identifies engineers with controversial and environmentally damaging technologies. Engineers are too often characterised as being male, socially inept, politically naive and aligned with selfserving developers. They are finding themselves at the centre of controversies they don't fully understand. Increasingly engineers are subjected to law suits because the public, which has an unrealistic perception of the nature of engineering, blames them when things go wrong.
Engineering appears to be at a turning point. It is evolving from an occupation that provides employers and clients with competent technical advice to a profession that serves the community in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Increasingly engineers themselves and their professional societies aspire to be broadbased professionals. Employers are also requiring more from their engineering employees than technical proficiency.
Engineering in the modern world involves many social skills. There is also an increasing need for engineers to choose technological solutions that are appropriate to their social context and to give consideration to the longterm impacts of their work, if only because the work of engineers can have wideranging effects. Today's technologies can impact on the whole globe and they can impact on future generations. Never before has there been such a moral imperative to consider what may have been thought of as unintended consequences in the past.
This book sets out to provide a resource to help engineering students understand the social dimensions and context of engineering work as well as the social role and responsibilities of the new engineer. Part One canvasses the issues and develops the debates central to a discussion of engineering in contemporary society. Part Two shows how those debates are put into action with a detailed case study highlighting most of the key concerns for the new engineer, while Part Three develops the general discussion about engineers and the environment, engineering ethics, and engineers at risk. It also seeks to stimulate discussion within the profession about the qualities of the new engineer and to provide insights to nonengineers who have an interest in the shaping and implementation of technology in modern society.