My first response to this was a flippant "Never trust anyone who actually wants to be elected"
However, on a more serious, for engineers to succeed in politics they would need to learn to put their preconceived notions of what the right answer is to one side. Lawyers, almost by definition, already have this skill; so it's not a surprise there are able to be more successful in politics.
Engineers hate loose ends; politics is loose ends, unfinished business and contradictory solutions.
What is the correct solution, from an engineering perspective, to the issue of the correct level for a minimum wage? Or Guantanamo, or Somali pirates or the trade embargo on Cuba? Or sending young people off to die in a foreign land.
Now I have my views on all of these topics, but none are a direct result of my engineering studies. They come form my upbringing, my knowledge of history and my classical English liberal mindset.
So sure, push for more engineers to explore the options and choose to become politicians, but don't push for more engineers in politics.
Perhaps somewhat unrelated, but one thing I've always noticed is that, at a small-ish company (less than 150 employees), in a pinch, "senior" engineers can usually be used to fill pretty much any job in the company: product development, purchasing, administrative, IT, sales, manufacturing/technician, etc. The opposite is definitely not true (i.e. administrative assistants have no clue how to design Printed Circuit Boards; technicians do not typically have great project management skills, etc.)
I am not sure the involvement of Engineers in Finance was a great success :-) Too much analysis can create a lot of havoc! I think Engineers are good executives. Let Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) graduates and lawyers do the politics, and leave real problem solving and execution to the Engineers, I say.
Mostly engineering graduate study technical subjects in their college level.That is the age the brain growth is optimum and capable of receiving analyzing calculative forming impressions on every action and reactions in their life.Where as arts group people study totally a different set of subjects related to human behaviour,history. So naturally that group will have more leaders.
This is a very interesting topic. I'm not sure I buy the argument about engineers not having the management skills, leadership and people skills -the soft skills if you will. Engineers do indeed move beyond the cubicle. I read on a marketing site that perhaps 90% of technology companies are headed by former engineers. This is not surprising, but it illustrates that engineers can lead, persuade, and engage outside the gambit of technical questions. Why they do not make it into politics is harder to answer. The fact that there are so may lawyers is perhaps due to their closeness to the political world. Often a lawyer may work on the staff of a governor or other representative. This is one path for them into the political world.
In Ireland we have a peculiarity where, along with lawyers, a good many teachers enter politics. Strange perhaps, but one reason is that in Ireland the teaching profession allows long sabbaticals which gives people the opportunity to take up the, lets face it, risky game of politics. Until you are launched you know you have a fallback.
But the broader question raised in this interesting article deserves to be answered.
The same situation (of virtually no engineers in public office) exists here in Australia. The vast majority of political representatives are from law or accounting/business backgrounds.
Meaning: they have little understanding of the destructive power of exponential growth, and do not comprehend the mechanisms by which feedback systems become unstable.
As for respect: I get none from them, so I give none back. If a person who is supposedly my superior cannot work out that 10% annual growth rates in consumption of virtually any non-renewable resource you care to name is patently unsustainable, then that person deserves nothing but the worst of the destruction that they wreck upon others. They are at best ignorant, or at worst sociopaths, and therefore have no rigth to lead.
I, for one, will not follow such leaders to mutual destruction.
I don't know, Frank. While there are certainly a ton of lawyer jokes out there, and plenty of ambulance chasers advertising on cable TV, I think the fact that so many hold elected office is one sign that the profession as a whole is very well respected in the U.S. To judge by income and power, I dare say that, as a group, lawyers get more respect in the U.S. than engineers (please note that I am certainly not arguing that this is right). A random Google search turned up this list, the accuracy of which I cannot vouch for, which shows that lawyers as a whole ranked 22 in median income in the U.S. in 2010, while computer hardware engineers came in at No. 33. Electronics engineers other than computer engineers were even further down the list at 46, strangely ranked one place behind "All other engineers."
I stand by my assertion that an infusion of engineers into U.S. politics would be a good thing. But to be fair, I can also see the value of having law makers who have studied (and therefore presumably know) the law and the legal process. (I am sure I wil be verbally lynched for this comment).
In english speaking countries science and engineering are deemed to be professions that need to be too honest to qualify as seed beds for politicians or leaders.
There is also the disdain in these countries for people who make a living by productive skills rather than manipulating the public or gaming the system. This has always been true in England, and unfortunately since WW II it has become progressively so even in the US after the German - Americans who really built the US as an industrial powerhouse were sidelined.
We are now paying for it.
Engineers "get no respect" and must get a MBA to join the white collar elite.
The tradition of scientists getting prominence in policy making is much stronger in France & Germany and gets even stronger as one moves further East, since those once backward nations have looked at technology as the main enabler in catching up with the West and consequently have valued technologists.
A Book For All Reasons Bernard Cole1 Comment Robert Oshana's recent book "Software Engineering for Embedded Systems (Newnes/Elsevier)," written and edited with Mark Kraeling, is a 'book for all reasons.' At almost 1,200 pages, it ...