16 responses to “Solving the World’s Problems”

  1. Chris Gammell

    Dammit GEARS, this is exactly why I got tricked so hard when Brian Fuller did this for the EELife Newsletter (on April 1st). I was so hopeful that the US replaced important people with engineers that it was a big letdown when it wasn’t true. And my optimism blinded me to the obvious fact that it was the first day of April.

  2. Brian Fuller

    This is so rational and considered that there’s no way it will fly! But seriously… great post… we can’t save the world overnight but a steady drum beat could make a difference over time.

    I was talking with Moshe Kam IEEE’s president today and posed this same issue. Now, he’s got a lot of fish to fry running an international organization, but he acknowledge immediately this is a huge problem in the U.S.

    Maybe there’s momentum within our culture… there aren’t a lot of pocket-protector jokes any more and TV has created a number of programs (“Numbers” for instance) with science hook… Now we need some political candidates. But engineers being engineers, who would be irrational enough to run?

    1. Chris Gammell

      We would need one or two sacrificial, charismatic politician/engineers that could get in there and pave the way for later engineers. Make the changes required (mandatory math tests?) to allow for later rational thought. But honestly, who would want to be anything BUT sacrificial politicians?

  3. jrspruitt

    I think this is a great idea, and actually good for this country, or probably any other one that is in a similar situation. I think this works in a great, the way the world should be way, but as far as the way it is, this probably isn’t going to drive news ratings as much as polarizing the country around two teams, and punishing us with it being, us or them, as to what can be done. And the term length/limit idea, that is something that needs to be done, politics is in a habitual cycle of reelection periods, again it drives news ratings, as its the only time it seems to get people interested. Engineers would be great at this, they have to create products that actually work. Unfortunately, like politics, it seems marketing gets all the glory. I think that is something that needs to change in the people. Like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink it.

  4. Fluxor

    So GEARS, it seems you want the US to become China.

    Quote from somewhere on the interwebs: That China is heavily technocratic is well established: see the work of Li Cheng (Cheng Li) and Lynn White (1990), “Elite Transformation and Modern Change in Mainland China and Taiwan: Empirical Data and the Theory of Technocracy” and other studies by Cheng, which demonstrate the rather astonishing extent to which the Chinese political elite is dominated by technocrats. The authors looked at mayors and Party secretaries of cities of over a million (of which there are today some 165); governors and provincial Party secretaries of China’s provinces, autonomous regions, and province-level municipalities; and Central Committee members, and found that by the time of writing there were already more than 80% technocrats (that is, putative or actual office holders with four-year degrees or more in the natural sciences or engineering).

  5. Brian Fuller

    You inspired me to blog about this post. Make enough noise and who knows?


  6. Robert Czeranko

    I would not say compromise as much as ‘trade off’. Compromising may not always have a positive out come. However a trade off seeks to maximize the best solution given the constraints. Egineers are constantly working trade studies whether we know it or not.

    1. GEARS

      Good point. Maybe we should use that term [trade off] more often rather than compromise.

  7. Chris

    Instead of term limits for Congress, why not return to a system where the legislature is not a full time body requiring its members to treat their positions as full time jobs that need to be saved every few years. Provide only a moderate stipend to cover the basic costs of doing the job (much like a grad school stipend does), no health benefits or pensions; essentially requiring each Member to hold some kind of gainful employment outside of the elected office. If it’s full of engineers, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Keeps Members with a foot in the reality that is day-to-day living. It would save a lot of money too.

    1. GEARS

      I’m not totally convinced that’s going to work. It would give a severe case of divided loyalties. But I do believe the Founding Fathers (and their wives) intended for people serve for a period of time before going back to their normal life. When I hear the words “Career Politician”, I want to just punch them.

    2. Ron Amundson

      Part of the issue with everyman style compensation is it increases the probability of corruption and under the table dealings multifold. Ie, when the politician is in survival mode, near any type of carrot is massively alluring… sooner or later things will crash. Granted, if one is massively greedy, it wont matter anyhow, but I think the current comp structure at least helps a little bit.

  8. Claire Nelson

    Having worked in Washington DC and on global development issues for almost 30 years, I am now of the opinion that a well-rounded engineer would be better for governance not only of America, but of the global commons institutions charged with the responsibility of trying to save our world. Let me qualify well-rounded by explaining that to mean – an engineer who is also educated in the liberal arts and other social development fields and thus is better able to be a part of a governing body responsible for complex issues. The economists and lawyers who delude themselves and many of the rest of us into treating them as the grand architects of human endeavor is why we are in the mess we are in now. If Congress had more engineers and less lawyers, we would also be able to solve more of the problems and get some traction on the need for greening this economy. Finally, I agree that China is demonstrating why having more technocrats at the helm of our ship PAX AMERICA may make more sense than what we have now. Having visited China, I have to say some more of us need to visit to see what more pragmatism and less emotionalism would help us feed the hungry and homeless while keeping America as the great experiment in human self-actualization that it is.

  9. Engineering a Good Cause | engineering-matters

    […] a couple of weeks ago, GEARS published a post titled Solving the World’s Problems. It essentially focuses on how engineering can make the world a better place. He goes on to several […]