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Engineers: A lifetime of helping people, on and off the job

“Engineers are the drivers of this planet.”


It’s Engineers Week, time to acknowledge the people who make things tick – in everyday life and on the job.

In reading about engineers and their accomplishments (see the Focus section of this issue), one readily sees they are not just industrious problem solvers who isolate themselves in a lab or office to work on projects and theories.

Rather, engineers are people persons, too. What engineers do interfaces science, technology and mathematics with people, so they understand the human element, as well.

But for many engineers, it goes well beyond that. They are involved in communities, schools, universities, charities and mentoring others in their profession. And they do it nationwide and worldwide.

To them, their career is a calling, and not just a job.

Engineers Without Borders USA is one example of this calling. Thousands of engineers and others go to developing nations across the world to provide basics such as sanitation, power, water and energy.

The members of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of EWB are in the middle of a five-year commitment to improve the infrastructure of a school in Sierra Leone that was nearly destroyed by a civil war. So far, chapter members have drilled a water well, installed solar panels to provide sustainable electric power and improved sanitation facilities. Providing these basic necessities of modern life helps to create a safe and healthy environment for the students.

There are many other examples of altruism by engineers in the Greater Lehigh Valley, including:

• The Lehigh Valley Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers mentors, supports and guides students at Lehigh University, Lafayette College and Penn State University-Berks.

• The Lehigh Valley Section of the Society of Women Engineers holds community outreach and educational programs. In December, its members wrapped and gave holiday gifts to area children.

• The Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers organizes an annual mathematics competition known as Mathcounts. This year it drew 250 students from middle schools in five counties.

• Nearly all engineering societies and associations provide technical assistance to other engineers, as well as mentoring for young members of their profession.

• The two PSPE Lehigh Valley Chapter Engineers of the Year, David F. Toler and Don Kohn, are heavily involved in civic, educational and professional endeavors.

As you can see, engineers go beyond the lab, computer and designs. They are fully immersed in communities and schools and in guiding the next generations of engineers.

Yes, engineers may drive the planet. They also do a world of good.

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