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DISCUSS: How can Engineering Help Developing Nations Solve Critical Problems?

I was recently listening to Dr. Tony Marjoram, the former head of engineering sciences at UNESCO on  his discussion on how engineering can help developing nations solve critical problems.   It was a quite stimulating discussion in which Dr. Marjoram provides the following blueprint answering the subject question:

He acknowledges that engineering is vital in ensuring human social-economic development.  The role that engineers continue to play in solving development issues (transporation, housing) cannot be underestimated. However, he concurs that there is an increased shortage of engineers around the world.  This reality is compounded by the fact that the profession is not attracting as many students, especially in light of the numbers needed to allow us to meet the social-economic obligations around the world.

Obviously the profession should increase its public awareness efforts and rebrand itself as the profession that promotes humanitarian development.  Unfortunately, given the fact that we still lack safe water, sanitation and electricity around the work; Perhaps we as engineering professionals are not doing enough to deliver solutions to problems we are mandated to solve.

Do you concur with Dr. Marjoram assessment? In your opinion, how can engineering be adequately applied to be more effective in delivering solutions for these problems?

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  1. I am an Engineering Student and i completely agree with this. I feel that the reason that engineering at least in the US is decreasing because it is a discipline without a goal. Most kids initially join engineering for the money but many drop out. Others stay in barely making it because although they have an interest in it but we don’t see how they are learning can be applied to solve the problems of today and the teachers in the classroom are so unenthusiastic about there job. The engineering discipline in my opinion is lacking direction and motivation. A group of sophomore engineering students have the power to help with alot of the problems around the world but they are never addressed in class or in the school at all. As for the question presented at the end. I feel that engaging engineering students in these problems will help them learn alot while helping others at the same time while turning out better quality engineers. The best way to learn is to helping people and hands on experiences. The problems in under developing countries i feel do not require Isaac Newton and Einstein level thinks but just simply need to be address. I feel threw helping humanity we can further ourselves and humanity and this is why I concur with Dr. Marjoram assessment.

  2. Eng. Ehdi,
    I totally agree with you that the future belongs to those who are to be affected. No amount of external influence will cause the changes necessary for for development unless those who are affected by the changes are willing work to attain them.

    A recent article I read on the same topic, argued that given that Africa’s youth unemployment is widely recognised as a potential source of political instability. And for a long time, most of the policy proposals for addressing joblessness have focussed largely on stand-alone skill development efforts effectively failing to recognise infrastructure as the motherboard of job creation.

    The author of this article further argues that Africa’s emerging focus on infrastructure offers a unique opportunity for the continent to adopt novel approaches to employment generation and skills development.

  3. In this day and age, of rapid transport and information at your fingertips should these developing nations be in a position to charter their own destiny instead of relying on developed nations to come to the rescue.
    Most developing countries have the capacity to provide at the very least the basics necessary for life in the countries. However, often times misallocation of funds, corruption and lack of planning usually result in lack of development.
    I believe what is required in most of the countries is not assistance in development but rather the nurture of visionary leaders who have the best interest of the countries at heart. Unfortunately, such a revolution can only be demanded by the masses not external influences.

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