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Proceedings Paper

The fraying web of life and our future engineers
Author(s): Frank G. Splitt
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Paper Abstract

Evidence abounds that we are reaching the carrying capacity of the earth -- engaging in deficit spending. The amount of crops, animals, and other biomatter we extract from the earth each year exceeds wth the earth can replace by an estimated 20%. Additionally, signs of climate change are precursors of things to come. Global industrialization and the new technologies of the 20th century have helped to stretch the capacities of our finite natural system to precarious levels. Taken together, this evidence reflects a fraying web of life. Sustainable development and natural capitalism work to reverse these trends, however, we are often still wedded to the notion that environmental conservation and economic development are the 'players' in a zero-sum game. Engineering and its technological derivatives can also help remedy the problem. The well being of future generations will depend to a large extent on how we educate our future engineers. These engineers will be a new breed -- developing and using sustainable technology, benign manufacturing processes and an expanded array of environmental assessment tools that will simultaneously support and maintain healthy economies and a healthy environment. The importance of environment and sustainable development cosiderations, the need for their widespread inclusion in engineering education, the impediments to change, and the important role played by ABET will be presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 July 2004
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 5359, Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices, (6 July 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.547688
Show Author Affiliations
Frank G. Splitt, Northwestern Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5359:
Quantum Sensing and Nanophotonic Devices
Manijeh Razeghi; Gail J. Brown, Editor(s)

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