The Role of the Activist Engineer in Society
Engineering Influence welcomed Mike McMeekin, Executive Director of the Engineering Change Lab and Darshan Karwat, Assistant Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University to discuss the evolving role of the engineer in society and the emergence of the activist engineer.
Engineering Change Lab - USA (ECL-USA) is a new non-profit that is focused on the future of engineering. ECL-USA’s mission is to be a catalyst for change within the engineering community, helping it contribute at the highest possible level in addressing the challenges of the 21st Century.
ECL-USA has now held nine summits over the last three years. Each summit is a deep dive into an issue that will impact the future of engineering. The summits include a combination of learning from thought leaders, or provocateurs, along with small group and large group exercises and discussion.
“Society and technology are entangled together” according to Thomas P. Hughes, the great historian of technology. Engineers and the engineering community, as creators and stewards of technology, are inextricably woven into this knot. ECL-USA’s recent virtual summit included an exploration of this complex entanglement and the role that engineers, and the engineering community can play in an emergent future to help society anticipate and adapt to these entanglements.
One of the provocateurs for this session was Darshan Karwat, Assistant Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University. Darshan Karwat’s work is centered around the concept of Activist Engineering. According to Karwat, an activist engineer is one who is willing to step back from their work and examine the question, “What is the real problem, and does this problem require an engineering solution?”
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