Engineering and Terrorism : LUSENET : Green & Sustainable Building Design : One Thread

A reader writes:

I write this as a professional engineer with a background in helping and training younger people from schoolchildren to mature graduates. The war against terrorism, in my view, should involve richer nations assisting poorer nations in developing their own resources, including water supply, sanitation, electricity, communications, etc. These things we take for granted in "developed" countries. It seems natural to us that we can eat fresh food, grow crops, rear animals, turn on a tap to get hot or cold water, flush a toilet, switch on a light, turn on a TV, heat or cool our houses, keep food fresh in fridges and freezers, pick up a phone, drive to another city, cross a bridge, take a plane ride, and so on. Almost everything that we take for granted comes with engineering. A major exception may be medicine, but that too involves engineering to a great degree. Science and engineering continue to evolve rapidly, especially in the high technology areas. However the fundamentals of water supply and disposal, irrigation and power generation are not widespread in many other countries. Hence the lives of many other peoples are very dissimilar to ours. Poverty and hunger are commonplace in many areas of the world where education in engineering is lacking. Give a man a fish and he can feed himself for a day; teach him to fish and he can feed his family forever.....

We have newspapers, worldwide news coverage and "freedom" that comes with democratically elected governments. We have largely stopped fighting about our varied religions. However, it seems that terrorism feeds on poor people, perhaps from different religious beliefs, but perhaps coming from mostly poor countries. As engineers, technologists, communicators, doctors, maybe we should all contribute from each of our professional societies to a worldwide "engineering fund" to support development of fundamental professional skills in "undeveloped" countries. Once people are not poor, hungry, or sick and have more contact with the rest of the world, they would be much less likely to harbor terrorists and seek to oppose freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to be peaceful and safe, freedom to marry another race, freedom to allow ethnic differences to be easily accepted.

Without the ability to feed your nation, educate your nation, inform your nation of worldwide events, you may be naturally breeding a nation that has nothing to lose by harboring terrorists, or worse still, cannot themselves prevent terrorists doing whatever they want, as the nation may have no police, or worse, the police (or military) may be corrupt and pleased to turn a blind eye.

Education breeds civilization. Engineering is the fundamental foundation of the civilization that we take for granted. We who have the education should help give the capabilities we possess to countries who are "less privileged". We could start a fund to put engineers into all countries needing our skills. Independent of any nation, any race and any religion, we in our profession could help defeat terrorism, by helping develop poor countries. The governments of the countries in which we work could pay our expenses and for some of our time. We could contribute some of our time, meaning some of our money, and truly work for the benefit of mankind.

-- chris schaffner (, February 23, 2002


You should hook up with Bono and Bill.

Also, you need to help educate the next generation of engineers starting with those closest to you. Say no to origami, and say yes to model rockets.

-- Tau-Mu Yi (, March 07, 2002.

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