Engineering Profession as a Social Practice

T06 7

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The relatively poor social standing of the engineering profession in Australia and its general inability to attract both a higher proportion of women as well as a high caliber of more intellectually able young people, has been of concern to both the profession and engineering educators. This paper argues that this is due to the unclear perceptions of the engineering profession as being “hard hat” and highly technical in nature; a perception at odds with the realities of the world of engineering practice, which is one of social practice. These realities are not reflected by engineering curricula at Australian universities where there is an excessive perpetuation of emphasis on highly technical matters, which exclude skills and the knowledge of human affairs essential in engineering practice. The many recommendations for increased educational allocation to subjects dealing with social sciences and humanities , had little effect on engineering curricula in Australia. This is attributed to the over-scientific academic culture operating within engineering schools and faculties in Australia.