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Engineers Without Borders calls for engineering reform to avert climate disaster

23 November 2020

With just 10 years to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals and avert climate disaster, national branches of Engineers Without Borders are uniting to demand a complete shift in engineering education and professional values.

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The latest proposed revision of the International Engineering Alliance’s Benchmark for Graduate Attributes and Professional Competencies needs urgent adaptation. Whilst the benchmark makes progress, it still fails to adequately challenge an often narrow view of engineering where its impact on the planet is played down. Societal and ethical issues are often overlooked, leaving room for solutions that further consume planetary resources at an unsustainable rate, and don't consider the needs of all people, to continue.

To this end, Engineers Without Borders International and Engineers Without Borders organisations from Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, UK and USA, are calling for three core competencies to be universally incorporated into the benchmark values:

• Emphasis on critical thinking as a fundamental cornerstone of engineering competence – critically analysing and critiquing the role of engineering, its relationship with humanity, and its impact on our past and potential futures.
• Deeper comprehension of the ethical issues inherent in engineering due to the relationship between engineering, people and the planet, and greater focus on developing the skills necessary to navigate these complex issues.
• Broader appreciation for the knowledge needed to make effective engineering judgements, including explicitly acknowledging the value of the social sciences in helping engineers understand the implications of their work.

We have no planet B and time is running out.

To ensure engineering is beneficial for all, the engineering mindset must shift to include a continued reflection on and critical thinking about the role of engineering itself.

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