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Title    Engineering Needs More Futurists
Date    Monday May 13, @11:26PM
Author    janrinok
from the But-Could-We-Handle-It dept.

quietus writes:

As early as 1900, civil engineer John Elfreth Watkins predicted that by 2000 we would have such now-commonplace innovations as color photography, wireless telephones, and home televisions (and even TV dinners), among other things. Personally, I'm not really impressed -- my great-great-grandfather predicted we'd all eat meat from factories by now, and use the cows for transport instead -- and he wasn't even an engineer.

But anyway. Based on that little factoid, a bunch of engineers has started ERVA, the Engineering Research Visionary Alliance.

In a guest article on IEEE Spectrum, they claim that engineering these days means tinkering a bit on the edges. That's wrong. What we need -- dammit -- are bold visions of how to rebuild about everything. Engineers today need a different attitude: the mindset of the futurist.

Engineers are not simply crucial problem-solvers; they have long proven to be proactive architects of the future. For example, Nobel-winning physicists discovered the science behind the sensors that make modern photography possible. Engineers ran with the discovery, developing technology that NASA could use to send back clear pictures from space, giving us glimpses of universes far beyond our line of sight. The same tech enables you to snap photos with your cellphone.

[...] Futuristic thinking pushes the boundaries of what we can currently imagine and conceive. In an era of systemic crises, there is a seemingly paradoxical but accurate truth: It has become impractical to think too pragmatically. It is especially counterintuitive to engineers, as we are biased toward observable, systematic thinking. But it is a limitation we have overcome through visionary exploits of the past—and one we must overcome now, when the world needs us.

[...] Some examples of challenges we have addressed—and the subsequent comprehensive reports on recommended research direction for visionary, futuristic thinking—are:

So there you have it, young man -- the world needs you to solve its problems: and they have an open call for proposals. Go for it!

Original Submission


  1. "quietus" -
  2. "Engineering Research Visionary Alliance" -
  3. "guest article on IEEE Spectrum" -
  4. "open call for proposals" -
  5. "Original Submission" -

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