Society is far too unaware of the important contributions engineers make to solving the great challenges of our time. Engineers make a significant contribution to shaping our environment and our living space.
Answers from Christoph Starck about Engineers' Day.
When and in what context did you first hear about Engineers' Day?
The SIA was already approached by the organizers when the first events were held. We used our own communication tools to call on our members to get involved and to participate with our own events.
Why are you involved in this event?
Society is far too unaware of the important contributions engineers make to solving the major challenges of our time. Engineers make a significant contribution to shaping our environment and our living space. They are largely responsible for ensuring that our society can continue to develop in a sustainable manner. It is therefore essential that we draw greater attention to their achievements.
What goals would you emphasize as the most important priority in terms of your commitment on Engineers' Day or in everyday life?
The promotion of young talent seems to me to be particularly important. In the future, we will continue to need as many bright minds as possible to work in these professions. But I don't think you have to weigh these goals against each other at all. Engineer's Day is just generally about vividly demonstrating how important the work of engineers is and how diverse and creative it can be.
Why do you think engineers and their achievements are not perceived enough in everyday life and what can engineers do about it?
That's a good question, and one that the SIA also asks itself many times. In the past, when engineers built an Eiffel Tower or bored a Gotthard tunnel, for example, they were pioneers celebrated by society. Take today's example: The cross-city line under Zurich's main train station, which was built a few years ago without any notable incidents while it was in operation, is an absolute masterpiece. But it was hardly noticed outside the professional world. Today, the general public takes such a project for granted. It is more exciting to follow who is to blame when something doesn't work than to pay attention to the 99, 99% of successful cases.
I think the problem is also largely due to the engineers themselves. Engineers are used to staying in the background as the Elon Musks of the world celebrate their Teslas. It probably has a lot to do with the personality of the engineers (of which I am one). On the other hand, I guess some prerequisites are already set in college. We also have many architects in the SIA. They learn to present their work during their studies and to defend their ideas confidently and interestingly in discussions. This shapes an entire professional guild and its visibility.
If you had one wish to be able to influence the promotion of young talent even more, to whom would it go and what would that wish be?
I think it is up to the commitment of each individual: Educate learners, organize on Future Day, as well as put on an exciting event on Engineers' Day. And take every opportunity to show students the fascination of the engineering profession.
Do you have any other wish in connection with Engineers' Day?
I would like to see the idea continue to grow and flourish. Until one day it becomes a matter of course that every major engineering firm in Switzerland is involved in some way on March 4.
Further information: sia.ch