Monday, December 15, 2008

Engineering Change

People have to deal with change – some of it by necessity, some of it by choice. Post 9/11 travelers wait in long lines at airports to undergo examination. Adults, forced by a faltering economy to move from one job to another, accustom themselves to new management styles. Their kids, who transfer from one school to another, have to make an entirely new set of friends. Shopping at macys.com rather than a bricks-and-mortar Macy’s is radically different but, more and more, the only way to purchase certain items. Using an ATM for cash is easier than stopping at a bank but requires people to trust the accuracy of a machine. Communicating by email is more efficient that using snail mail. Cellphones have become more of a necessity but make people available for constant contact – private time seems to be vanishing.

It’s clear that today’s constant is change. And a quick look shows that technology is a prime mover in many of those changes – for better or worse, engineers often make life difficult in the short run, but better over the long haul. In either case, they’re at the leading edge of progress.

Engineers change the world.