Young engineers show optimism but older engineers are not so sure

Judging by the tone of the finalist and winning essays for the Bosch Technology Horizons Award, young engineers are optimistic about the power of engineering to solve the world's problems, although the older generation and the bulk of the public is less so.

In his winning essay in the 19-24 years old category, third year Loughborough University aeronautical engineering student Thomas Dean wrote, "I propose that the question should not be "if engineering and technology is essential for future development?" but instead "how will we use engineering and technology for future development?

"The technology required to sustain the population, and the planet, in the future already exists today. It is the challenge of engineers to ensure that it is accessible to all and applied efficiently, providing the greatest effect and benefit to civilisation.

"In the future we will need to look at engineering for a different economy in order for the human race to advance and flourish. Not an economy based on financial wealth and personal gain, but an economy of grace and compassion. An economy based on the priceless value of life itself."

On the other hand, Philip Greenish, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering said that a Mori poll showed that most people polled in the UK were doubtful as to whether engineers contributed much to society or not, because they evidently did not understand what it was that engineers did.

This is not so in all countries, of course, and Andrew Lamb, CEO of Engineers Without Borders pointed out that the only engineer head of state that that he knew of in the World was Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya.

The subject of this year's Bosch essay competition was, 'Are engineering and technology essential for future development?'. There were nearly 800 entries and Thomas Dean walked away with £1,000 while Caitlin Willis, from Chelmer Valley High School in Essex, winner in the 14 to 18 age group received £700. Prizes were presented by Andrew Castle, vice president Bosch UK.

Tom Shelley

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