Alan Kay P.Eng. MICE, who has a few years ago celebrated his semicentennial membership as a Chartered Civil Engineer, recently reviewed some of his experiences from working in diverse disciplines, and delivered a thought-provoking presentation onHolistic Engineering, to a group of engineers in Vancouver, BC.
" . . . . educators and institutes in the US and Canada found that globalization of the early curriculum of engineering education would develop a new kind of engineer, needed, in this evolving world, who can think broadly across disciplines and consider
the human dimensions that are at the heart of every design challenge. Rather than watering down engineering education, the holistic approach empowers engineering programs to become globally competitive, more rigorous, value-added, innovative, and dynamic in their application. It is not the broadening of an engineer’s education that disserves the public, but the present educational system that does not train professionals to think holistically about the true impact of their technological and scientific creations in society."
The presentation proposed a specification for the “Engineer 21”, and diagrammatically illustrated Process and Knowledge Management which are the main tools in applying holistic engineering.
Alan, together with David Harvey, myself and others, had previously hosted "Engineers @ the Heart of Society: Collaborating + Innovating for Our Common Future", on behalf of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE). Professor Paul Jowitt, then President of ICE, was very impressed with that event: "The fact that we are able to come here and argue about matters of utmost importance to the future of the planet, I think it says massive things about the way civil engineering and civil engineers have changed." There was also some energetic debate on Our Destiny between speakers Keith Clarke, Dr. Francis Zwiers, and Professor William Rees.
Towards the end of the session, everyone seems to agree with what Keith Clarke said: "Our job is to anticipate that world and be ready for it, and that's part of trying to ensure that world will in some form arrive. If you wait for the world to get perfect and then want to answer it, you are part of the problem stopping it becoming - it won't be perfect, but - not disastrous. That's why you're professionals. You are a body who are paid to have judgment. . . . . You're people that think about the future. You actually get trained and paid for it. That's what clients pay us for - is to make professional judgment. That's what we should relish, and anticipate what we need to be . . . . "
NREL: Assessing Persistence
Methods for Determining Energy Efficiency Savings for Specific Measures
Speaker: Dr Susan Krumdieck, Associate Professor of Engineering, The University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Dr Susan Krumdieck is a visionary engineer and engaging speaker working on Transition Engineering in New Zealand; she will share her vision of a new kind of engineering and a new opportunity for engineers to help create a sustainable future.
Transition engineering - rethinking everything
A lecture organised by Energy, Environment and Sustainability Group of the Institution of Mechanical Engineering.
In the years ahead a great transition is needed from the unsustainable direction in which human society is headed, to a direction that leads to a resilient, stable and sustainable future. To change direction and reach such a future, responses to climate change and to peak oil need to be more sophisticated than “business as usual” – and just as engineers have enabled change at all levels of human activity in the last 150 years, so too are engineers needed to enable change in the future. This is the challenge of Transition Engineering.
Transition Engineering encompasses the engineering challenges of technological as well as non-technological changes required for transition to a sustainable future and will need the vision and creativity of engineers in all existing engineering disciplines.
Many engineers are already practicing this kind of thinking. Bringing transition engineers together is of similar importance to the emergence of “safety engineering” in response to horrific industrial accidents in the last century.
Looking for More ? Here's a great presentation :
Confronting the Status Quo - Dr Susan Krumdieck
Collective intelligence occurs to me to be easier to cultivate, and might be more effective in building capacity, and avoid the need to "herd cats", when compared with other forms of collaboration.
It appears that collective intelligence hinges on creating openings and building forums/platforms, while other collaboration might require matching attitudes and behaviours, and could be more corruptible by unintended dynamics.
It also appears that collective intelligence is self-weeding, more subject-matter focused, and requires little process control --- little more than a code of conduct.
It's wonderful to see Brunel, and the history of people and poppies, being solemnly and colourfully portrayed at the 2012 London Summer Game.