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The Engineers’ Creed – A Challenge for the Engineering Community

 Reprint from   August 23, 2002

Author:     John E. Allen, P.E.
Publication:    Alabama Engineer – A publication of the Alabama Society of Professional Engineers

How many times have we all said to ourselves, “There is just not enough time in the day to get done what I need to get done?”  Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times that we all deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Deadlines, appointments, conflicts, timelines, and schedules all make each day a non stop event to merely keep one’s head above water.  It often seems that we each need a personal organizer to keep us on track.  In fact most have their day-to-day routines on palm pilots and calendar databases.  With this type of daily routine, we often forget what is truly important in life and the things that balance the individual’s general perception of the reality of the needs of this world.  Many times, we do not “have time” to think of our fellow man and the opportunities we have as engineering professionals to have an impact on other individuals in our society.  But, as professional engineers, we are bound to uphold the foundations of the Engineers’ Creed within our profession.  Review carefully this canon below as adopted by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1954:

NSPE  Code of Ethics for Engineers – Engineer’s Creed
”As a Professional Engineer, I dedicate my professional knowledge and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare.  I pledge: To give the utmost of performance; To participate in none but honest enterprise; To live and work according to the laws of man and the highest standards of professional conduct; To place service before profit, the honor and standing of the profession before personal advantage, and the public welfare above all other considerations.  In humility and with need for Divine Guidance, I make this pledge.”

One of the very last statements of this creed is most compelling, ”and (to place) the public welfare above all other considerations.”  Apply this to the opening comments in regards to time management and we can easily make the parallel of where we must above all other considerations place the public welfare.  Now, in context, one can argue that this is merely a tenet to follow during the engineering design process to provide our services to the public in a safe and proficient manner and thus protect the public welfare.  It can be proffered that we also have a common mantra to provide our expertise, training, and resources to the benefit of society as a whole as well.  We are extremely fortunate to have been educated as engineers and to have the capability in this country and around the world to impact areas of need and opportunity within our respective circles of influence.  We are educated to be methodical, questioning in nature, and very focused on the determination of the solution to the problem at hand.  Many of the societal problems in this nation and world can be solved with the same dogged determination and training we have as engineers in the profession.

To become involved with additional areas other than engineering helps to mold and create an individual with additional skills and capabilities that can not be taught in the engineering schools.  Volunteer opportunities abound in any community, from Rotary Clubs, to Food Banks, to Care for the Aging programs, as well as the well-known Habitat for Humanity Program.  There is certainly no lack for areas of involvement for the volunteering engineering professional.  We have many unique capabilities as engineers that can be applied in a variety ways in those volunteer environments that can have a huge impact on the greater good of humanity.  For instance, the engineer who has a background in pipes, pumps, and filtration systems, can be utilized as a project lead for the installation of a water filtration system in the hills of the mountains of Honduras to provide safe drinking water for the local village.  Or the engineer that is project trained as a manager could be utilized to prepare project schedules for the local Habitat for Humanity building projects.  In any case scenario, find those organizations that are in need of your expertise and skills.  Get involved, get in the game, and try to affect change for the greater good.  As this society continually places more and more emphasis on success and career advancement, it perpetuates the general belief that your job responsibilities should be your number one priority.  Again, drawing from the Engineers’ Creed, it is our responsibility to place the public welfare above all considerations, for no greater opportunity exists than to positively change the condition of our fellow man, and to give of ourselves to affect that change.  Wherever your skills and capabilities can be applied, they will be of value to the public welfare.  For when we give of ourselves, both in our time and efforts, to volunteer our talents and skills to those less fortunate, we apply the principles of the Engineers’ Creed to our profession and in a small way, impact the greater good of mankind.

In closing, the words of Herbert Hoover aptly state, in his own paraphrased prose, the Engineer’s Creed-

It is a great profession. There is the satisfaction of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege. No doubt as years go by people forget which engineer did it, even if they ever knew. Or some politician puts his name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other peoples money with which to finance it. But the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness that flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know.

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