What are the Responsibilities of Engineering?

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What are the Responsibilities of Engineering?

The role of engineering has suffered many changes over the last few decades, although its concept which is based on trial and error has remained an essential element of the scientific-technological method; where social, environmental and human factors define the most suitable solution to manage a particular issue. Thus, engineer's role is continuing reshaped according to the new challenges and necessities implicated by specialized disciplines on particular areas of technology (civil, chemical, agricultural, etc.).


Impact of Engineering on Society

The history shows numerous examples in which engineers' performance has widely influenced among communities. Quality of life, economic wealth and good infrastructure for instance, are one of the most relevant and common indicators of their weight on society. As have stated, by 2025, the world's population will have increased from 1.5 billion to 6.6 billion approximately and the percentage of migration to urban areas will rise from 40 per cent to 60 per cent. This information shows that urbanization rates will boost dramatically. Subsequently engineers have the responsibility to make effective and sustainable solutions as an integrated approach without generate negative impacts, which is known as engineering social responsibility.


Ethical Side of Engineering

In general terms, engineering's ethics is directly related with engineering responsibilities regulated by standards codes which act according to several situations. The objective of the ethical factor in engineering rather than just fixed up rules, is drawing solutions with reflexion of particular situations fixed into prior principles. On this basis, at the time of making decisions, engineers should take into account the following points: sustainable development, protection of the public-environment, faithful agent of stakeholders - related with objectivity, competence-knowledge, fairness and justice, integrity in the workplace (dedication and service), and professional accountability- leadership.

Engineers in Developing Countries

As in developed nations, engineers must work within the social, economic and environmental context in order to guarantee real sustainable development for the whole world. Social responsibilities such as water supply, sanitation, food, energy and environmental protection are the same in developing countries. The difference resides on the socio-economic factors which are directly influenced by people's behaviour, governments positions and development priorities.

Engineering Skills and Ethics in Developing Nations

As is described in the section A.1 and A.3, competences and principles of engineers in developing countries remain the same as standardized characteristics. The great challenge for them is in fact, to develop realistic projects on time to particular communities and technology available. In fact, environmental issues, often take less importance because there are others which have more "relevant social impact", oil explorations for instance.

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Successful and Failed Projects

The successful and failed projects in developing countries depends much on the capability of engineers to undertake projects with a clear understanding of the objectives, reliable assessment of resources' availability, business, and technical requirements and effective communication among stakeholders. The ability to implement accurately these facts will bring up useful and applicable alternatives to address real issues. By contrast, lack of attention to the social-economic context, ethics codes, unrealistic expectations, underestimated time, quality and cost will bring poor outcomes.

Relationship Between Technology and Socioeconomic Factor

The use of high-technology does not guarantee a successful project or accurate solutions. In order to achieve good results, engineers must be able to make a balance between use of technology and socioeconomic attributes. Parsons (1996) points out that the appropriated selection of technology will determine not only project's success also its viability. As a result, there are four points to choose appropriate technology according to socioeconomic factors: it must be conceptual and physically compatible with operators, spare parts and equipment must be available in the influenced area, project funding must be commensurate with its budget, and the technology must be compatible with the physical environment where it will be used. This model leads to concluded that the relationship between technology and socio economic factor is very narrow, it must fit users and needs as well as must be designed to improve quality life.


World population, followed by climate change are considered the two main factors that are shaping new engineers with environmental approach. During the last half of the 21th century; world population increased from 2.5 billion to 6 billion especially in less economically developed countries, this trend is expected to peak at 9.3 billion by 2050 (United Nations 2012). In addition, overpopulation also has been linked with higher demands of natural resources (water, cropland, forest), shanty settlements, transportation-infrastructure deficits etc. Another important event that is making an environmental approach is the fact that the current global economic is based on productivity, which has brought several impacts associated with greenhouse gases, waste product of fossil fuels and air pollution. Climate change is certainly the result of all these elements at an abnormal rate. Thus, the world has changed its development approach to sustainable development. Hence, most of professional corporations have incorporated sustainable development into their aim statements and codes.