Hug An Engineer

This is a good week to hug an engineer. If not a hug, then give a handshake, or a thank you to celebrate National Engineers Week this week and express your appreciation for the good things engineers bring to life. It is nearly impossible to comprehend what our lives would be like without engineers and their contributions to society. Imagine a world without automobiles, jet travel, antibiotics, and computers, much less plumbing and electricity. It is surprising, then, that engineers toil in virtual anonymity. A few are well known (such as Willis Carrier and Neil Armstrong), but most are not. Engineering is a “helping profession” in which highly trained and talented men and women apply their knowledge of scientific principles and mathematics to develop products and processes that benefit society. With the pervasiveness of technology today, an engineering education is more relevant than ever. The critical thinking and problem-solving skills engineers learn are a springboard to careers beyond engineering, including medicine, law, and business. Engineering education has changed—with more focus on ethics, social responsibility, and communication. Today’s engineers are Renaissance men and women with a breadth of knowledge. We have a proud engineering history in Central New York and are fortunate that growing engineering firms are helping us transition to a high-tech economy. Local engineering accomplishments include the development of the Erie Canal, the invention of air conditioning, and pioneering advances in the application of transistors and silicon chips to new fields such as medicine and defense. Over the past century, local engineers made firms such as Carrier, General Electric, and Welch Allyn the gold standards in their fields. Now younger firms, such as Anaren, Sensis, Syracuse Research Corporation, O’Brien & Gere, and C&S Engineers have established international reputations with their innovative products and solutions. The paper recently reported that these firms and Lockheed Martin, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, and other local companies are searching to hire hundreds of engineers, certainly a boost to our economy. As dean of Syracuse University’s College of Engineering & Computer Science, I am very proud of the contributions our graduates make to the region and the world. While the college is international in scope, our local involvement may have the greatest long-term impact. We are working very closely with regional high-tech firms to meet some of their need for talent and provide research expertise. CNY firms help us improve the education of our students by critiquing our programs, teaching some of our applied classes, and helping us appreciate the needs of industry. There is a mutually beneficial relationship between SU and local technology firms of which the entire region can be proud. Another goal SU shares with regional high-tech companies is to increase the number of young people in CNY who pursue careers in engineering and science. We are working to increase their exposure to the rewards and opportunities inherent in technology careers; this is key to the long-term vitality of our region’s economy and the advancement of society. Our students learn in their introductory course that engineers were revered by the ancient Egyptians. It is time for our society to recognize the critical role that engineers play in creating a better world. Join us in celebrating National Engineers Week. You can hug an engineer, or better yet, support young people in pursuing this rewarding profession that is critical to CNY and to our world.