Engineering Change Lab-USA (ECL-USA) is a catalyst for change within the engineering community, helping it reach its highest potential on behalf of society
In 2019, the leadership of Engineering Change Lab – USA (ECL) conceived the idea of the Engineering Ideas Institute. Our goal for the Institute is to annually convene diverse change leaders from across the Engineering Community for a longer-form, deeper exploration of the most important issues that will define the future of engineering.
Participants in the third edition of the Engineering Ideas Institute will learn, share perspectives, provoke new ways of thinking and find avenues for action related to two important topics described below. Advancing our knowledge in these two areas aligns with ECL’s mission to catalyze action in the engineering community through deep learning and interdisciplinary collaboration. We invite you and your associates to join us for the Institute.
The Regenerative / Circular Economy Opportunity and the Future of Engineering
Essay Written By: Kyle V. Davy, Creative Director, Engineering Change Lab – USA
June 21, 2022
In a narrative that is overwhelmingly positive, the history of engineering is commonly told as a story of progress and achievement. From the Brooklyn Bridge and the Hoover Dam to countless roadway and water projects across America, engineers designed and built an infrastructure that not only drove progress and growth, but also protected public health, safety, and welfare. From Edison’s lightbulb and Bell’s telephone to computers and the Internet, engineers created technologies that revolutionized the way we live and work. And, from mechanical and electrical devices to chemical processes, members of the Engineering Community were central to both industrial and consumer revolutions in the United States and across the world.
Members of the Engineering Community can and should take pride in this promethean legacy, one that continues as we move into a new century.
In his theories about the human psyche, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung describes a shadow that accompanies the face we present to the public and ourselves. That shadow is “full of those things we have no wish to be, and certainly no wish to present to the public: our fears, our insecurities, our anxieties.[i]” Taking a cue from Jung, we might ask – is there a “shadow story” of engineering in the United States? Does our dominant narrative obscure or ignore parts of our history where engineers were involved in technological developments that were deeply harmful to individuals and groups within our society?
A thorough examination of the history of engineering and race in the United States reveals significant racial injustice and harm that resulted from some actions by engineers. If the engineering community is going to do its part to heal these past racial harms and write a new narrative for the future – one that combines technological innovations and achievements with concrete contributions toward racial equity, this shadow story must be brought into the light.
Confronting this shadow does not diminish the dominant story. Rather, stepping up and owning this part of engineering’s history can result in a positive shift in values and behaviors; creating new foundation stones upon which members of the Engineering Community can build in their stewardship of technology and nature on behalf of society for the benefit of all[ii].
Illuminating the Shadow… Read More
Since the dawn of humanity, our technologies have transformed the world around us, adapting our environment to meet our needs and wants. Over the last 150 years, the Engineering Community has played a primary role in the creation and application of physical, digital, and biological technologies, from infrastructure and energy systems to digital twins and artificial intelligence to gene splicing and bio-printing.
In today’s world, the power and reach of new technologies is ever-expanding, and the pace of technological change is accelerating. Now more than ever, it is imperative that those of us involved in the creation and application of all types of technology consider the social, environmental, and ethical impacts of our work. Engineering Change Lab – USA’s (ECL) latest summit introduced the work of Engineering Change Lab – Canada in Technological Stewardship (TS) as a professional identity, orientation, and practice that can support us in navigating the complex tensions inherent in our work, broadening our perspective about potential impacts of our efforts, and bending the arc of technology towards greater good.
Mark Abbott, Director of ECL-Canada and Director of Tech Stewardship at MaRS Discovery District, kicked off the summit by recapping their eight-year journey that has resulted in their current focus on catalyzing and supporting a TS movement. The main purpose of ECL-Canada’s TS Practice Program is to ensure that technology is beneficial for all by impacting the creators and implementors of technology, such as the Engineering Community. The TS Practice Program is founded on three core commitments.
- Advance Understanding
- Deliberate Values
- Practice Behaviors
We are living in a world that is facing an unprecedented combination of technological change…
and rapidly evolving societal needs, driven in large part by environmental imperatives. As this uncertain future unfolds, maintaining the status quo is not an option for the engineering community. The imperative for change and adaptation has driven the formation of ECL-USA.Learn More about ECL-USA
ECL-USA convenes two to three times a year to share perspectives, deepen our understanding of engineering’s emerging future, and to launch experiments and focused initiatives designed both to foster change across the entire engineering system from education to practice to research to licensure.Upcoming Summits
Our Way Forward
Our way forward is through action inspired by the Engineering Change Lab-USA’s mission. ECL-USA was started in 2017, with the mission of becoming a catalyst for change within the engineering profession, by helping the profession reach its highest potential on behalf of society.
To achieve our mission, we will:
- Bring together stakeholders, innovative thinkers, and change agents to explore and generate new knowledge about the role of engineering in an emerging future.
- Self-organize as an independent (non-aligned) entity – complementing existing stakeholder organizations (professional societies and associations), not attempting to duplicate their efforts.
- Become a communications hub, linking and sharing knowledge between stakeholders engaged in creating the future of the engineering community (profession).
- Engage in and lead collaborative initiatives designed to transform the engineering community (profession) to help it thrive in an evolving world.