The few types of engineering that are minimally constrained by such issues are pro bono engineering and open-design engineering. By its very nature engineering has interconnections with society, culture and human behavior. Every product or construction used by modern society is influenced by engineering. The results of engineering activity influence changes to the environment, society and economies, and its application brings with it a responsibility and public safety.
Engineering projects can be subject to controversy. Examples from different engineering disciplines include the development of nuclear weapons , the Three Gorges Dam , the design and use of sport utility vehicles and the extraction of oil. In response, some western engineering companies have enacted serious corporate and social responsibility policies. Engineering is a key driver of innovation and human development. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, has a very small engineering capacity which results in many African nations being unable to develop crucial infrastructure without outside aid.
All overseas development and relief NGOs make considerable use of engineers to apply solutions in disaster and development scenarios. A number of charitable organizations aim to use engineering directly for the good of mankind:. Engineering companies in many established economies are facing significant challenges with regard to the number of professional engineers being trained, compared with the number retiring.
Standards for Engineering Design and Manufacturing
This problem is very prominent in the UK where engineering has a poor image and low status. Much work is needed to avoid huge problems in the UK and other western economies. Many engineering societies have established codes of practice and codes of ethics to guide members and inform the public at large. The National Society of Professional Engineers code of ethics states:. Engineering is an important and learned profession.
As members of this profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people. Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.
Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct. In Canada, many engineers wear the Iron Ring as a symbol and reminder of the obligations and ethics associated with their profession. There exists an overlap between the sciences and engineering practice; in engineering, one applies science. Both areas of endeavor rely on accurate observation of materials and phenomena. Both use mathematics and classification criteria to analyze and communicate observations.
Scientists may also have to complete engineering tasks, such as designing experimental apparatus or building prototypes. Conversely, in the process of developing technology engineers sometimes find themselves exploring new phenomena, thus becoming, for the moment, scientists or more precisely "engineering scientists". In the book What Engineers Know and How They Know It ,  Walter Vincenti asserts that engineering research has a character different from that of scientific research. First, it often deals with areas in which the basic physics or chemistry are well understood, but the problems themselves are too complex to solve in an exact manner.
There is a "real and important" difference between engineering and physics as similar to any science field has to do with technology. The former equates an understanding into a mathematical principle while the latter measures variables involved and creates technology.
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A physicist would typically require additional and relevant training. An example of this is the use of numerical approximations to the Navier—Stokes equations to describe aerodynamic flow over an aircraft, or the use of the Finite element method to calculate the stresses in complex components. Second, engineering research employs many semi- empirical methods that are foreign to pure scientific research, one example being the method of parameter variation.
As stated by Fung et al. Engineering is quite different from science. Scientists try to understand nature. Engineers try to make things that do not exist in nature.
Engineers stress innovation and invention. To embody an invention the engineer must put his idea in concrete terms, and design something that people can use. That something can be a complex system, device, a gadget, a material, a method, a computing program, an innovative experiment, a new solution to a problem, or an improvement on what already exists. Since a design has to be realistic and functional, it must have its geometry, dimensions, and characteristics data defined.
In the past engineers working on new designs found that they did not have all the required information to make design decisions. Most often, they were limited by insufficient scientific knowledge. Thus they studied mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and mechanics. Often they had to add to the sciences relevant to their profession.
Thus engineering sciences were born. Although engineering solutions make use of scientific principles, engineers must also take into account safety, efficiency, economy, reliability, and constructability or ease of fabrication as well as the environment, ethical and legal considerations such as patent infringement or liability in the case of failure of the solution. The study of the human body, albeit from different directions and for different purposes, is an important common link between medicine and some engineering disciplines. Medicine aims to sustain, repair, enhance and even replace functions of the human body , if necessary, through the use of technology.
Modern medicine can replace several of the body's functions through the use of artificial organs and can significantly alter the function of the human body through artificial devices such as, for example, brain implants and pacemakers. Conversely, some engineering disciplines view the human body as a biological machine worth studying and are dedicated to emulating many of its functions by replacing biology with technology.
This has led to fields such as artificial intelligence , neural networks , fuzzy logic , and robotics.