The impact that engineers have on society is absolutely enormous. As a speaker pointed out at tonight’s event, engineers have designed, built, or else technically (and sometimes non-technically) influenced just about everything we see, and even that which we don’t see—below us, far above us, and in the air. In North America though, and in Ontario in particular, the engineer is not as well known for having a political influence. Rather, lawyers, economists, business-folk, and many others are elected to Parliament to decide on how the public will interact with engineered systems; to decide on how money will be spent on engineered infrastructure… Everyone else is shaping our world, really.
DISCLAIMER: The variety of input is actually quite helpful, but I mean to imply that the engineers’ participation is often missing.
None of this is to say that the Ontario Legislature is completely void of engineers though, and today was the day to celebrate the professionals that have braved the world of politics to leave some of the biggest impacts on our society. It was also an opportunity to encourage other Professional Engineers to consider that avenue of work, and dozens of representatives from PEO chapters across Ontario were in attendance for that particular reason.
My question to students reading this is: Have you given any thought to the type of impact you would have on society as an engineer in industry versus in politics? If you studied engineering in hopes of one day leaving a significant positive impact on the world, I would argue that you have an amazing opportunity in politics. Do not turn down an opportunity to work in industry—rather, embrace it as a way to gain professional experience and to expand your network. But make sure you realize that your expertise makes your input significantly more valuable; and one day in the future, your expertise may make you a significantly more valuable representative of parliament.
Attachment: Click here to read some of the blurbs from other representatives from Ontario Engineering Student Societies who attended the event.