Engineers In The Midst Of Politics

An engineer is a person who solves practical problems by using technical knowledge such as science and mathematics. They can do the same everywhere, regardless of nationality, and their universality makes them the most stable of all immigrants. Engineers can transcend nationality at any time.

Engineers, Technology, and Politics

The book The Birth of Modern Engineers traces the birth of a group of engineers around Europe and the United States. “Modern engineers were the leaders of history that led to a new civilization of human history, the industrial society,” and “the group created the material foundation of the modern industrial society by leading technological innovations that enabled the transformation of production relations.” Modern engineers were a symbol of progress. Although the creation and growth of the engineering community differed from country to country, the process of engineering progress was directly or indirectly related to the state. In the process, engineers in Europe and the United States formed a social force.

Gabriel Hector wrote, “Technology requires politics, and politics requires technology.” The dualism of technology and politics has left cultural characteristics unique to each country. British engineers (from all fields including the heating engineer) were close to the working class, and in France, they were managerial groups. Unlike German engineers, who were tightly controlled by the state, had high social status, American engineers were not included as social elites. In the United States, there has been a history of companies that have constantly interrupted the formation of professional associations of engineers. In other words, the history that the group of engineers has gained the social status is the history of the constant struggle between the two axes of politics and economy.

The paper Changes in the Social Role and Responsibilities of Engineers between Technology and Politics analyzes the Korean engineering community through the Gyeongbu Expressway, Dangsan Railway, and the Four Rivers Project. The Korean engineer group has a strong belief in technology neutrality. This idea was created by the developmental dictatorship since the 1960s and has since become a policy of education that distinguishes science and literature. Under the belief that the engineer’s functional specialization was technology-neutral, he created a thoroughly depolitical role model. But such depoliticalization is the origin of excessive politicization. It is only natural that engineers advocate for government policy, with the state monopolizing all institutional resources for scientific and technological development. The Gyeongbu Expressway, Dangsan Railway, and the Four Rivers record the strange cohabitation of depoliticization and excessive politicization of the Korean engineer group.

In the end, the Korean engineer group has been perceived as a means of social development, not a reformist agent leading the society. The idea of ​​the elder engineers who aimed to enter the bureaucracy to overcome this situation was wrong. The modern group of engineers valued the autonomy of the profession, and for this purpose formed an association and negotiated with the state. The belief that entering the bureaucracy improves the social status of the profession is a chronic delusion of the Korean engineering community and the scientific and technological community. There is no Engineers Association in Korea, and Korean engineers have not grown into professional elites. Low salaries are due to the absence of associations.

The word defers an engineer. The longevity to fight in that war is the engineer. There is no hope for political bureaucrats who struggle in the face of national crises. The engineer must change society. I hope to be a society that invests in young engineers because they are the hope of the nation in the midst of struggle.