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Twitter Chat – The Whole New Engineer and the Challenges of the 21st Century


Post written by Marc E. Chelala:

In today’s global community, issues we commonly face have remained the same, while our understanding of them has broadened thereby increasing their complexity. Undoubtedly, it begs to question the role of the engineer in today’s society and how it needs to change along with our understanding of the world.  Engineers may need to adapt their thinking to more creative and holistic solutions in order to address a world of future prosperity. As professionals with specific knowledge, should engineers reaffirm their responsibility to society and make a world of difference?

However, in this complex system that is difficult to change, how can we initiate the change and what is the change we wish to see?   As individuals, students, professionals and non-engineers, how can we make a world of difference that will add up to a global change? How is the current engineering education system failing future engineers, if it is?

The Big Beacon Manifesto and the Global Engineering movement at Engineers Without Borders Canada both embody the principles and ideals that we wish to see in today’s engineers. An important aspect is the need to redesign the education system in order to keep up with global changes and support the idea of a ‘Whole New Engineer’.

Such a large scale endeavor relies heavily on individual actions, small changes that together can create a shift in the perspective of the engineer and their duty towards society. It then follows to question how to initiate such changes in such a complex and connected system with a tremendous inertia against change.

The focus of Wednesday, March 26th’s discussion will be on these small steps that we can each take, and the importance of each individual’s contribution to the movement. On March 26 we would like to hear your thoughts on how YOU would like to make a world of difference.

At the McGill University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, we often get asked (and question ourselves), how can a small group of students have enough leverage to influence the entire student body and faculty policies that seem to be set in stone. How can we maximize our impact and our outreach? How do we even measure the effect of our actions?

Discussion Questions:

  • What are the main problems in today’s world that require a Whole New Engineer?
  • In what ways are engineers currently apt to the task or fall short in solving these problems?
  • How do you think we can each change the perception of an engineer and their duties towards society?
  • What role do industry leaders and policy-makers play in challenging status quo? How do we get them on board?
  • Individually, what were the incongruencies between your expectations before/during/after your degree?
  • If you had the power to change one thing in today’s engineers and/or their education, what would it be?

Join us for the weekly #BigBeacon Twitter chat at 8 PM EST on 3/26/2014 with Marc E. Chelala @marcchelala 

How to Twitter Chat

If you’ve never Twitter chatted before, don’t worry; it’s very easy. First, get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, and log in. At 8 PM ET on Wednesday go to and type #BigBeacon into the search box on Twitter. Thereafter all the tweets with the hashtag #BigBeacon will show up on your Twitter page. To participate, simply express your opinion by sending a tweet, and be sure to append the hashtag #BigBeacon so other members of the Twitter Chat see you are posting. Alternatively, automate the hashtag search and append feature by using the free service Tchat at

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