The Engineer: Engineering x Society
Hello people! Hope you're having a great week. This week we decided to talk about our fields in relation to society.
As part of my major, we were required to take a few humanities courses. Humanities ranges from topics relating to psychology, sociology, and philosophy. While most classes unrelated to your major can be annoying, I find them to be extremely important. As engineers, you have the ability to change the world in a very big way and if you fail to acknowledge the present society, you can end up doing more harm than good.
Last year, two guys had this idea to big virtual convenience store that aims to eliminate the need to go into actual corner stores. While this idea may sound as a good idea, it completely ignores the fact that convenience stores are often places that serve as communal places for people in a neighborhood and are also own by immigrants and people of color. Trying to eliminate these convenience stores is essentially trying to eliminate someone’s livelihood as well as the feeling community. If those founders would’ve done some user analysis by interviewing people in those communities, they may have thought differently before trying to create something like that.
In NY, the public transit system during peak times of the day is always busy and sometimes you’re just packed in there for 15-20 mins. The transit group, had this idea that if you remove the seats on the train, you create more space so more people can stand. While this may sound like a very practical idea, it ignores the fact that some people may be unable to stand for long periods of time due to various physical and health conditions. You’re ignoring a large demographic of people for a solution that doesn’t even really solve the crowding problem even in the slightest. This is an example where if people took the time to understand different users that may take the subway, they would’ve thought twice before suggesting something like that.
I could honestly talk all day about this topic, because I think that it’s so important and there’s so many instances that it completely gets ignored. Part of the problem is that in a decision room, there aren’t diverse perspectives challenge mainstream thoughts to better scope out a solution, and the other problem is that people honestly don’t care. Being a part of technological innovation is something so powerful and we all need to have a wholistic approach when it comes to defining a solution. While your science and math courses are important in order to receive your degree, don’t forget that you need a humanistic approach to be the best person for your job.
- The Engineer