Amidst an Australian election and a British exit from the European Union, engineering has never been more relevant to politics. Engineering industries are the ones that keep a country running, and those industries need to stay afloat in uncertain political environments. We have recently reported on how important STEM-related industries and education is to the future of Australia’s GDP. We have also recently focused on how a Brexit has forced engineering industries in the UK to link arms and negotiate the best possible deal in the EU-Exit. What is apparent in the current political climate, is that engineering is one of the more important societal mechanisms.
Malcolm Turnbull has secured a second term as Prime Minister of Australia, along with the Liberal Party of Australia. During his campaign trail, he asserted that STEM subjects would be made compulsory for all students in Australia. The importance of STEM industries for Australia’s economy has been made known – multiple times – in the lead up to the election. Price Waterhouse Coopers warned that if STEM industries faltered, Australia could see losses of up to $43 billion in the annual gross domestic product. Australia’s engineering industries that have notably influenced policies within politics have been the liquefied natural gas industry and the clean, renewable energies market.
The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay, in the latest episode of his YouTube series, The Engineering News Network, spoke of how engineers could play a significant role in their respective communities. He said: “As engineering professionals, you really do need to get involved in politics, local community affairs from a technical, engineering point of view. You do have a major contribution to make, whether it’s your local community, your little small village or town, whether it’s working on the sewage works or helping with decisions of power.”
An example of engineers making decisions that could affect policy was seen in Europe in the last two weeks. In the current market of uncertainty, Siemens decided to halt any new orders whilst the aftermath of the Brexit referendum was measured. This cast a cloud of doubt on the future clean energy policies of David Cameron’s government. Siemens eventually reversed their halt on new orders and have gone forward with engineering operations in the country. However, the decisions of engineers could have caused Britain to go through a tumultuous time in regards to keeping their clean energy policies in check.
“You have to get involved because you as engineering professionals have something more than most of these people in these parliaments have and that is that you are considerably more objective in what you do. A lot of the parliaments are riddled with lawyers, accountants and people that perhaps don’t have the necessary technical knowledge to make considered technical decisions. Obviously, engineers have got potential problems ; building nuclear power plants, contaminating water and things like that, that we need to avoid. But really, you do have a major contribution,” Mackay concluded.