Engineering is About Building Lives Too

09.14.2005 | Energy and Environment, Engineering, Service and GivingEngineering is more than buildings, roads and vehicles for Margie Pinnell, a University of Dayton assistant mechanical engineering professor. More so now with Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, it's an opportunity to help make a difference in people's lives.

Students, faculty and professional engineers of all faiths, disciplines and universities are invited to discuss how engineers can impact society Sept. 22-24 during the University of Dayton's "The Role of Engineering at a Catholic University."

Registration is $175 for professionals and free for students. Call (937) 229-3464 for more information. Registration also is available online. All sessions take place in Kennedy Union on the UD campus.

"Engineering has great social impact," said Pinnell, "Are engineers creating jobs? Is the environment being protected? Is the human condition being uplifted? At a Catholic university, a situation like Hurricane Katrina brings engineering's social impact to the forefront."

Pinnell admits, that when she was a student, she didn't see how engineering could help people. As a teacher, she is taking it upon herself to help make sure UD students get the message.

"I believe UD does a good job of allowing the differences of all faiths to come out," Pinnell said. "This conference allows people of all religions to open up and share their beliefs on human issues. We hope all engineers have a great social conscience."

Pinnell said funding and tenure are two things that may hurt the implementation of faith and values into engineering.

"Sometimes, what we can get funded isn't consistent with our beliefs," she said. "Service-learning isn't usually included in technical publications and that doesn't help the tenure process."

Pinnell said engineers are doing a better job today than in the 1980s despite having to fix past problems. The environment is near the top of her list.

"I think all engineers have the best intentions in mind," Pinnell said. "But, maybe they weren't necessarily looking at the big picture at the time."

Billy Koen, a University of Texas professor, will deliver "The Definition of Engineering Method and Its Implications for the Liberal Arts, Ethics and Religion" at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. Koen is the author of one of the most acclaimed descriptions of engineering and the engineering process. In 1993, he received the Centennial Medallion from the American Society for Engineering Education for his impact on engineering education.

John M. Staudenmaier's address on "When I Critique Technology, on What Ground Do I Stand?" is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23. Staudenmaier, who teaches engineering ethics at the University of Detroit Mercy, has written "The Politics and Ethics of Engineering" and "Relating to Technologies as Moral Adults."

Daniel R. Lynch will talk about "Catholic Social Thought and Technology: Dimensions of Professional Responsibility" at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. Lynch is the editor of Professions and the Common Good, and his work focuses on ocean environments.

Philip J. Chmielewski follows at 10:45 a.m. with "Cyborg Engineers Hack Better Ethics in the Catholic Tradition." Chmielewski, the Sir Thomas More Chair of Engineering Ethics at Loyola Marymount University, is exploring the shift in global engineering values and concerns because of changes in China.

Other sessions include the role of Catholic universities in informing research, present examples of Catholic beliefs in engineering education, and the process of better integrating Catholic beliefs and ideas into engineering education.

For interviews, contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.