Thursday, September 10, 2015

Creating Engineer and Architect Stories

It’s rather trivial to prove countries with more engineers per capita are generally economically better off than comparable countries and from this point flows all sorts of other positive benefits such as higher levels of education among the general population, increased resources for arts and sciences, better health outcomes, etc. Less easy to prove is that to increase engineering enrollment; engineering needs a PR campaign. This is exactly what are trying to do, except perhaps with even more ambition.
There is an established pattern of neglect for high quality engineer and architect narratives. Compare the portrayals seen of other professions like doctors and lawyers. There’s really no equivalent to Game of Thrones for engineers and architects. The long temporal nature of building projects is an obstacle to audience engagement for one. More surprising is the neglect of architect stories: Architects tend to be egomaniacs (full disclosure; I trained as one) and therefore when two meet in opposition, because of each’s inherent energy, more often than not, sparks tend to fly. Why this point hasn’t been leveraged as a source for architect stories is a mystery.

Ultimately I don’t mind these efforts to promote STEM professions, or “humanize” them as the Polar Media representative suggests. So long as we don’t get carried away by imaginary narratives and remember to address at the same time the real obstacles people have in entering the engineering field. Removing barriers to higher education, be they financial or academic, seems just as important as “sexying” up the engineering industry. But otherwise, good luck to Polar Media. If interested in helping them with their project, more information is available through the link above. 

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