A few readers took exception to the semi-political comments I made in this week's newsletter. But I stand by them, not just because they're true, but also because they directly address a problem with engineering.
The general response to any political commentary in a technical outlet is that politics should be kept out of engineering. As one reader put it, engineering is his 'refuge' from the political fray. Amen to that!
However, at a certain level, engineers need to keep one eye on Washington. Keeping our heads in the sand does not do us any good. I don't care about your political orientation (and you shouldn't care about mine). I don't have any political agenda aside from advocating for engineers to have a stronger voice in Washington, particularly as it pertains to engineering and the sciences.
A lot of engineers complain about incompetency in Washington, then go bury their head in the sand again. The IEEE does the best it can, but I have yet to hear of a senator or member of congress respond to an engineering-oriented lobby group. Have you?
Instead, we hear of pressure from pharmaceutical, legal, medical, automotive, manufacturing and an endless list of other groups that have their own agenda that too often conflicts with that of the engineering community, yet we're silent.
There's an interesting sideline discussion on what it means to be an engineer and why we're so often ignored at Chris Gammell's analog site. Take a look at the piece, the joke, and the reader comments. The latter are particularly good.
So, my point is this: Get involved--regardless of your political persuasion. Help and encourage the IEEE and other pro-engineering groups to lobby on your behalf. Being isolated and 'above the fray' does not help you, or engineering as a whole.
For my part, I will mention some things now and again that should be on your radar, and I will continue to celebrate when engineers -- "who actually make and build things" [Obama], get their rightful place in the Washington spotlight.
I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on this. Lobby me and advocate on behalf of your particular stance in the comments box below and sign for the weekly DSPDesignLine newsletter here, or my blog RSS feed here.