Canadian Consulting Engineer

No wonder engineers are invisible

Canadian engineers often bemoan the fact that they are misunderstood and/or ignored by the general public. In a spe...

February 15, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canadian engineers often bemoan the fact that they are misunderstood and/or ignored by the general public. In a speech given when he accepted the Ontario Professional Engineers Gold Medal in November, Arthur B. Johns, P.Eng., who is Chair of the Board at Morrison Hershfield, consulting engineers of Toronto, argued that engineers are in fact well respected. In fact, he said, in surveys engineers rate well ahead of lawyers and accountants in the public’s esteem and trust.

The problem, Johns suggested, is that the public doesn’t know that engineers are there to serve the people first. Following is an extract from Johns’ speech as it appeared in an article in PEO’s magazine Engineering Dimensions, January/February 2003.

“So what would the public believe? I submit that, for professional engineers and their associations, it should be: “Our paramount duty is to public welfare.” It’s in our Code of Ethics, which is in the regulations of the Professional Engineers Act. So, let’s dust it off, display it and share it with the public. It is already respected by engineers but is rarely, if ever, expressed as a core value and is virtually unknown to the public. Let’s display it in the reception rooms, council chambers, chapters and boardrooms of Professional Engineers Ontario, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and Consulting Engineers of Ontario as a constant reminder. Let’s put it up there on that big screen at the next awards dinner. There it is, people: In everything we do. ‘Our paramount duty is to public welfare.’ And it is not just the paramount duty of individual licensed professional engineers, it is also the paramount duty of the organizations that represents them and regulate them.
“How can a profession that claims its paramount duty is to public welfare have a public that has little knowledge of what we do and is oblivious to the fact that we put there welfare first?…

“I suppose if you do not want to be accountable or attract attention, what better way than to be invisible. But increased remuneration does not come from being invisible.”


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