World Engineering Day on Wednesday aims to highlight the critical importance of engineers and engineering for sustainable development and modern life, as well as encourage future generations to tackle global issues through more holistic and ethically designed projects, a senior engineer said.
In November, UNESCO adopted the resolution to proclaim March 4 World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development.
The day was proposed by the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, an international organization representing over 30 million engineers from some 100 nations.
Gong Ke, the federation’s president, told China Daily that many nations have their own special days to celebrate various engineering professions, but it is also important to have a global opportunity that allows governments, industries, researchers, civil societies and the public to find innovative engineering solutions to global challenges.
World Engineering Day has garnered support from over 40 UNESCO member states, including global engineering powerhouses such as China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and others, as well as many African nations.
Gong said this shows the strong demand for engineering capability in developing countries.
“The international day will serve as a springboard for awareness-raising actions on engineering and sustainable development,” he said, adding such awareness is essential for improving humanity’s engineering capability and its ability to tackle common issues such as climate change, infrastructure and food and water security.
Gong said the celebration of World Engineering Day is also about promoting engineering as a career and an opportunity to change the world for the better. “We should put more effort into encouraging women and young adults to get involved in engineering,” he said.
While engineering features a diverse range of topics, Gong said they all share the same feature, namely “turning science and technology into tangible tools or products that can benefit society.”
“Engineers love to solve problems and traditionally place great emphasis on the functionality of their work,” Gong said. “However, now we are facing many new and difficult challenges that require a more collective and collaborative approach.”
For example, electronic engineers may not take the energy consumption or how to recycle a used device into account when designing their products. Telecommunication engineers might focus on the efficiency of frequency bandwidth and transmission speed but be less concerned about the environmental cost for creating these installations.
“We are starting to realize that our past knowledge is not enough to satisfy the need for sustainable development,” Gong said.
“The basis for engineering is science and technology, but we should also take into account the economy, society, ecology and social responsibility when designing.”
“But an engineer cannot learn that many fields alone, so it is crucial for future engineers to have a strong awareness of their social responsibility and active collaboration with experts outside of their fields,” he said.