How Do We “Fit” In The World Of Engineering?

Welcome to the blog of the Mortenson Center for Engineering in Developing Communities.

As the Director of the Mortenson Center, I am often asked how the Mortenson Center “fits” within traditional engineering disciplines. At first, I had trouble answering this because I was not quite sure what they were looking for – were they asking if EDC was engineering, or how did EDC relate to traditional engineering, or some other question? However, the implication was always clear – the questioner wanted to know what EDC has to do with engineering.

My answer to that is very simple: EDC represents the next generation of engineering and will be the model for what is required in engineering education. Bear with me as I explain for a moment.

Beginning with the industrial revolution, traditional engineering has evolved into a discipline divided into numerous specialties in which professionals became knowledgeable in specific silos. This specialization was in turn reflected in engineering education where departments of civil, mechanical, environmental, and others slowly replaced the general engineering major. Although these specialties are still necessary, the world now requires a new type of engineer. This is the engineer who has the ability to cross engineering disciplines, understand social issues, talk to politicians, and advise the law making process. When put in the global development context, this list expands to include understanding of multiple cultures, languages, and economic systems. In short, this is the beginning of the age of the interdisciplinary engineer.

Returning to the original question, EDC is not about fitting into traditional engineering disciplines. EDC is about the future of engineering. EDC is about preparing the next generation of engineers to make a global difference. EDC is about knowledge and learning. EDC is about focusing on people and making a better place for everybody to live. So to conclude, I pose this question to all who are wondering how EDC fits into traditional engineering: How does your discipline prepare engineers to work in the world of EDC?

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2 thoughts on “How Do We “Fit” In The World Of Engineering?

  1. Engineering has changed significantly since my dad’s day. The traditional ‘number cruncher’, while still necessary, is only one aspect of the expected duties and responsibilities we engineers need to embrace to be successful in the world today. I believe we need to begin thinking well outside the box for solutions to the world’s future development problems. Our mission is to serve the public and ensure their safety right? But by designing in the same half-hearted manner as was done in the past, with no consideration for the future, are we really protecting the public? I truly believe that we aren’t.

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