1.7 Why educate engineers? Citizens

To prepare engineering/science/numerically-literate citizens for society

Many of the decisions which must be taken in a 21st century society involve an assessment of technical issues and/or quantitative data. Currently obvious examples are the use of nuclear power for electricity generation or fracking for oil or gas production: A proper approach to key decisions in these areas involves an understanding of the technical possibilities and an appreciation of risk. How is it possible to take a view, and potentially vote on the basis of this view, without an understanding of the nature and effects of radioactivity, of the possible methods and contributions of electricity generation, of the reasons for and implications of fossil fuel use and global warming?  Graduates of a science or engineering discipline are well placed to take an informed view whereas other members of society are much less likely to be able to adopt a rationally justified position. The production of such graduates is therefore a very worthy objective for engineering education, although it is rarely articulated in the vision or mission statements of Schools of Engineering.


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