A lack of empathy is leading towards a money focused society where engineers design and construct with the end goal of being wealthy and successful without focusing on the communities and our planet (5). This mindset has created enormous divides within our society and is negatively influencing people and our planet.
Technology is advanced enough to help individuals suffering in LIC’s (Low-Income Countries), but the way it’s being used is not sustainable and efficient. Instead of advancing further technologies - in developing towards more efficiency, we can concentrate on making it more accessible for less fortunate individuals.
To implement compulsory “Humanitarian Engineering” modules into higher education courses around the globe to promote more ethical engineering. Subsequently, engineers will invent/modify designs to better consider end-users, and acknowledge their collective impact on the planet.
This module will include a human-centred approach to engineering (1), with focus on social, environmental and political issues and their relation to how we go on to engineer things in the future. There will be tutorials to constantly develop and refine their skills. In groups they will critically evaluate past and current designs through case studies, which will teach self-reflection skills that could be implemented to their own designs in the future. It will also develop their global empathy by learning the considerations of previous engineers and building on their work. (See ‘there is no planet b’ for a chart indicating key points to focus the module on(2)).
We will also be looking at doughnut economics (3) to evaluate where the current system lacks and the inequalities that it highlights (6). Many technologies are already advanced in the market; however, we’re not utilising these properly. This module will aim at focussing the students to improve technologies for the lives of people - rather than pushing the limits of our technologies at the planet's expense.
By looking at what is already available in regards to humanitarian engineering courses (4), there are only a few dedicated to it. In other traditional engineering courses, there are a limited number of modules dedicated to environmentally-minded thinking – our aim is to incorporate this type of thinking/learning into all engineering related courses.
(1) Effective teaching methods to help deliver new outcomes - The Institution of Structural Engineers (istructe.org)
(2) There Is No Planet B (theresnoplanetb.net)
(3) Doughnut Economics : Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist: Kate Raworth: 9781847941398: hive.co.uk
(4) Humanitarian engineering: A social, tech-centric degree to consider (studyinternational.com)
(5) Jo Da Silva FIStructE - Gold Medal Address 2017 - The Institution of Structural Engineers (istructe.org)
(6) The Global Engineer - Engineers Against Poverty (engineersagainstpoverty.org)