The following is from the May 16, 2008, edition of Design News. Dr. Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the SMU School of Engineering School, was a keynote speaker at the recent 2008 Mechatronics Expo.
By Joseph Ogando, Senior Editor
Dr. Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the SMU Engineering School, kicked off the 2008 Mechatronics Expo with a keynote speech about the “role that dreaming plays in engineering.” He didn’t mean daydreams during a long day at the office or nightmares about product failures. Instead, he meant dreams in the sense of having a vision for the future, one that guides engineers to shape society in a positive way.
One vision Orsak believes engineers should embrace involves a greater commitment to the world’s poor, particularly in the developing world. “We’re the last great hope for these people,” he said. He then ran through a laundry list of technological advances of the past century — and promptly debunked the notion that any one of them should be considered an unqualified engineering success. “We’ve checked things off our list that are still not complete,” he said.
To take two of his technology examples, electrification and safe water distribution may be taken for granted here in the West, but billions of people in the developing world still live without either one.
“Engineering is not a gadget discipline. It’s a people discipline,” he said, before advising engineers not to love technologies for their own sake but for their impact on human beings on the ground. “Remember what the end game is all about,” he said.
- : - : - : -
From the blog of John Dodge, Editor-in-Chief
Keynoter Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the SMU engineering school, inspired the assembled by making a case for his twin passions: solving social problems through engineering and engineering education. Geoffrey, a very inspirational speaker, grabbed the audience with his causes. His slides of sprawling and ever-expanding slums next to remarkable wealth in India were striking. Taken a bit further, it’s been called the double bottom line.
In other words, companies and engineers have a fiscal AND social responsibility in everything they do.
# # #