By Ruth J.
As future engineers we are a part of designing the future. When looking back in time it is somewhat easy to see the errors of the past and criticize. However “Engineering For Social Change” has made me see that at lot of the problems, like pollution and waste are unintended consequences of great technologically progresses that improved the life of many. The evolution of the way of living in the western world over the 150 years has jumped leaps and bounds and has increased expected life time and provided a comfortable life for most people. How ever big the problems we face today are, no one would want to go back, and dealing with the consequences is one of the tasks that stand before us as engineers today.
One thing that has become clear to me is that when moving forward and developing new technologies and solutions there is a very important lesson that we need to learn from the past. We must not only look at what problems the technology solves but also what it does not solve, what problems it could possibly create and who and what it will impact, intended or not. This is for me the most valuable lessen I have learned.
This way of thinking can and must be applied both in philanthropy and business. Not only businesses for profit but also philanthropy has through history been misguided and many times lead to destruction societies, cultures and nature around the world in the attempt to solve a problem.
By becoming aware of this responsibility within the engineering field has been eye-opening and equipped me become more aware and hopefully make better products and cause fewer unintended consequences. But it has also opened my eyes to the fact that not every bad consequence can be call unintended. And by calling it unintended the responsibility is being pushed to the side instead of owning up to the fact that proper research had not been conducted into the matter.
Working with an NPO in the pursuit of the $10,000 Nilom Grant has been a great learning experience and put emphasis on the importance of the matters of the lectures and has given a meaningful aspect to the group work throughout the semester.