The Thinking Engineer: A Navigational Manifesto

As Thinking Engineers, we declare that we will apply the engineering thought process not just to technological advancement, but to the overall betterment of the Self. We are individual contributors to the greater public good to which we all belong.

Engineering is a way of thinking. We are observers of the world, a unified body of critical, analytical thinkers, applying the knowledge diversity of the profession toward improving the quality of life for everyone, everywhere. This is to be done without a sense of feigned superiority or exclusivity, but instead with compassionate drive and with purpose.

We continue to beneficially challenge the profession with new bounds of practical and pragmatic innovation. We are fishers of engineers and we are stewards tasked to guide, grow, and promote the profession, filling the talent pipeline. Navigating a sea of change, we live in a world that is evolving toward ever deeper fathoms of complexity, an environment in which our thinking thrives.

Continuous improvement rests just not within our livelihoods, but necessarily within the Self. We realize that by improving the Self, when we stand by our fellow engineers, we become intellectual economies of scale, synthesizing our combined knowledge to maintain the course of civilization. But like all paths sailed, we need to remain vigilant toward our aims of improving humanity, sustainability, responsibility, and progress. This pathway will not be without flaw or adversity, but it is up to us to determine whether such mistakes will become guideposts of growth or drowning anchors.

We will start each journey with the following compass: What is the purpose by which we are pursuing progress? Who are the true stakeholders benefiting from the work at hand? How does our work support and sustain the public good? For without these, we are lost.

Such paths to serving the public interest will be charted within these boundaries:

The 10 Boundary Conditions of the Thinking Engineer
1. Excellence without arrogance
2. Wisdom without presumptuousness
3. Knowledge without prejudice
4. Technical mastery without exclusionary isolation
5. Innovation without destruction
6. Analytical rigor without becoming lost in the details
7. Discipline without blindness
8. Execution without negligence
9. Focus without myopia
10. Success without abuse

Published December 21, 2010 by Austin Lin

Filed under: thinking engineers,

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The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of and should not be attributable to the National Society of Professional Engineers.