How to be a Global Engineer

By Alvaro D.

Engineering for Social Change has been a breath of fresh air in my engineering studies. Throughout this years I have learned technical skills and aptitudes that help me solve engineering problems, but that is not enough if you want to be a global engineer.

This course has made me realize all the power and influence that engineers have in society and that it is critical that this power is used wisely to face today and future world challenges. For this reason, more engineers are needed and more courses like Engineering for Social Change should be taught. As Bill Nye said, “there’s nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.”

After the introductory class, the course started with Prof. Grimm explaining different motivations for doing good, and diverse ways of helping people in need. We had a class debate on which way of helping was better (Jane Addams vs Andrew Carnegie). This first class was a great example of how participating and giving opinion is fostered in this course.

During the semester we have had classes on many different topics related to the challenges engineers are fighting and will have to battle. Topics such as how engineering will look like in the future, how to manage waste or even the impact of social media on society.

The course is also focused on a very important issue, which is unintended consequences. We have learned that engineering actions have unintended consequences that engineers need to minimize or eliminate.

Last, the semester project gives you the opportunity to comprehend how nonprofits work, and the importance of their existence. The project is a stimulating and challenging way to identify a specific unintended consequence of engineering and find a way to mitigate it. In addition, the winning group gets a $10,000 grant for the non-profit organization they have worked with throughout the semester, which I found very exciting as we start to make an impact as engineers.

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