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Citizen Engineering

Citizen Engineering: A handbook for Socially Responsible Engineering by David Douglas, Greg Papadopoulos and John Boutelle was published in 2009. The authors of the book bring their experience as engineers and offer advice to other engineers regarding the responsibilities of engineers in the society. It offers information to engineers in different areas of specialization that include software, computer, mechanical, materials, electronic, and automotive engineering.

Citizen Engineer is a book that brings a fusion if ideas, advices, information and opinions from the three authors, their colleagues and other sources of engineering practice. Despite the fact that it provides information and advice to engineers as the main target of the book, it also provides advice and information for the general public population. This is because the public are the receivers of the services of engineers because engineers build or create things that are normally used by the public. Therefore, it informs the public of important issues and factors that they should look for in engineers and their work. The book is also informative to managers of engineers even though the managers may not be engineers. This is because for one to effectively manage a group of workers and offer informed leadership, he or she should be informed on the area of interests that he or she is responsible for. Therefore, managers of engineers need the book so that they can be informed on the issues that touch on engineering field, codes of practice and the work of engineers (Douglas, Papadopoulos and Boutelle 4).

The book has been separated into seventeen chapters that address a wide range of issues in the engineering profession. The main argument of the book is related to the impact that engineers in different fields of practice can bring to the world with regard to their different contributions. The book has put emphasis on the environment and intellectual property issues. It addresses the issues by putting an engineer in the real world situation outside what they do in the laboratory. It has been partitioned into four sections covering all the seventeen chapters. The four sections address specific issues (Douglas, Papadopoulos and Boutelle 5).

The first segment of the book is the Advent of the Citizen Engineer. It is made of two chapters that address issues concerning the difference between engineering practises in the present world and those of the previous times. Here, the authors assert that the roles of citizen engineers are not new, but they expand and change as the world becomes modernized. This means that engineers must be ready to adopt new ways of doing things (Douglas, Papadopoulos and Boutelle 7). They outline the external factors that drive the change of the economics of the way good engineering must be practised. These include corporate social responsibility, fraud, privacy issues, intellectual property concerns, security related issues and government regulation among other things. Each of these issues is addressed adequately, in the two chapters.  The authors write that engineers who dealt with Moore’s Law only are forced to deal with more laws in the current world. They do this to show the difference of time (8).

The second segment addresses environmental issues and the way they relate to engineering practices. This part has nine chapters that specifically address the environmental responsibility of engineers. Issues that touch on energy, life cycles of products and natural resources are dealt with in this part. It offers a practical guide to engineers on the way they should determine the impacts of the products that they use, in their practice. The authors adequately address the issues of environmental impacts. Many variables affect environmental impacts such that the reduction of a certain impact can increase another one. Therefore, they show the importance of prioritizing changes that are based on greater impacts. They also show the importance of considering sustainability when assessing impacts. The authors also show the importance of energy conservation and natural resource conservation among others (Douglas, Papadopoulos and Boutelle 34).

The third part addresses issues on intellectual responsibility. It has four chapters that deal with rights and responses of responsible engineers on intellectual property rights. It shows and explains several types of intellectual property rights that relate to engineering. It goes on to show how a responsible engineer should use intellectual property rights to share work, avoid other engineers’ work and how to protect themselves. It talks of licences and copyright issues with respect to software and other products used by engineers (Douglas, Papadopoulos and Boutelle 131).

The last part of the book, Bringing It to Life, has two chapters. They look at the ways in which citizen engineers are produced by universities, their places of work and they way they are changing the world. In this part, the authors provide examples of courses that engineers must take and the degrees that they must acquire to meet the criteria of citizen engineers. They look at curriculum changes that have been implemented to create socially responsible engineers (Douglas, Papadopoulos and Boutelle 207).

Despite the fact that this book is an informative piece, it has focussed so much on engineers and engineering concepts and profession to the extent that other readers who are not engineers are left out. It is basically meant for engineers who need issues that drive the changes in the engineering field. Irrespective of the fact that the book has incorporated the success stories of a citizen engineer all over the world, a reader who is not an engineer does not find the book interesting to read.

The book has used a clear writing style that ensures engineers and non-engineers can read the book and understand it with ease. It has not focussed much on complicated and complex engineering issues. As a reader, I liked the arrangement of the book. Related topics have been organized in an approach that they follow each other in order of their importance. These chapters have also been put in parts that address closely related issues. Therefore, the organisation of the book helps the reader to follow precisely the topics that offer information leading to the next topic. This makes understanding of the book easier for any reader whether an engineer or not. In addition, the book relates engineering concepts and their application in the real world. Therefore, it does not offer information that is not practical (Douglas, Papadopoulos and Boutelle 98).

From the book, I learnt the importance of the change of engineering concepts and practises in the changing world. I also learnt the importance of environmental responsibility, intellectual responsibility in the engineering practice. It also shows the importance of the information and training offered in the courses that students taking engineering must learn.

Irrespective of the reality that the book does not give enough room for other readers to enjoy reading it, it is an informative piece for engineers. The authors could not satisfy engineers and other readers in a similar manner. Therefore, the authors managed to avoid inclusion of complicated topics for other readers to ease their understanding. On the other hand, it talks of engineering issues in the entire book to ensure that the engineers find the book informative to their practice. The book has addressed my opinion in an adequate way because it ought to inform engineers of what they should do to become Citizen Engineers.

In conclusion, the ideas, advices, opinions and the information given in the book are essential for engineers in the modern world. Other readers interested in engineering issues can also find the book informative to read.

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