First part : - Introduction - Engineers Dilemma
Engineers are problems solver whose decisions are constraint by cost and time. Their ideal would be the simultaneous prevailing of the cheapest, the quickest and the safest. However, since such a prevailing is impossible, what characterizes the engineer’s solutions and decisions is the strive for balance between accuracy, efficiency, sufficiency and safety. But, such a diversity, far from being liberating, astringents the engineers to the state of versatility - an engineer should be versatile enough to ‘satisfy the various conditions’ and this demands ingenuity. This is the quality of an engineer at the highest level, the quality at making decisions. Lets call it the ‘engineering sense’ and use this term interchangeably with the word quality itself.
But the question is, how demanding is this ‘engineering sense’? The answer to this question is the single most important fact since it governs the whole discussion of to be or not to be. The answer is all spatial, time and personality dependent and initially, it seems like a dilemma. Spatial wise, it depends on where the engineer is working, i.e. company, country. If he or she works in a company with less challenging projects (both in the practical and the research aspects), we can suppose that this sense would be less demanding. The same argument applies to the country where the company is operating. Although the generality of the argument degrades (since one may argue that many of the contemporary engineering ‘state of the art’ works are being carried out in the developing countries, although the question of whether they are being carried out by the local engineering talents remains) but at least we can still say that less-developed countries would demand less of the quality than the developed countries, again due to the nature of the projects (i.e. not very challenging) as well as other factors such as internalization and globalization (difficulties of local talents to penetrate the global scene). In other word, since the job is not challenging and the company (and country in that matter) is not internationalized, why then bother?. Time wise, based on the law of entropy, order degrades over time so we can expect a more chaotic world in the future which demands, of course, versatility. Increase in oil price, terrorism, neo-capitalism, environmental issues, political instability etc. are the factors contributing to such a chaos. Finally, personality wise, it depends on how ambitious the engineer, the company and the country are. The higher the ambition the higher demand for the quality (or the engineering sense).
So, what is the solution to this dilemma (or the answer to the question of how demanding is the ‘engineering sense’)?. Indeed, there is no dilemma. For both spatial wise and personality wise, if we insert time into the equations, things would become obvious (time wise, it is already obvious). Spatial wise, a company (and a country in that matter) will either be losing or gaining over time as staying stagnant would be almost impossible. Such changes will create competition and as far as competition is concerned, only those with the quality will survive. Personality wise, it is very hard to imagine of any society or any country not being ambitious, at least in a long run. We are witnessing the raising of new world powers such as China and India, to name only a few.
Therefore, based on these, it can be concluded that, the engineering sense of the engineers is ever demanding which magnitude increases ‘exponentially’ over time.