Can Engineers be a Successful Political Leaders?

It is a common belief that engineers are introverts, arrogant and proud. Their primary characteristics are a love of detail and the ability to work independently. Engineers often are somewhat arrogant because they’re generally very smart.

From the engineer’s point of view, politics is a messy business. Unlike homework problems and lab assignments, our national problems are poorly defined, and the design goals are imprecisely specified. It’s rarely clear when you have even solved a social problem. In this domain, why would an engineer want to participate? [1]

Ultimately any political entity’s main purpose is problem solving. But politicians aren’t problem solvers. They’re paid to turn small problems into expensive big ones that take years to resolve. [2]

Engineers bring a quantitative sense to social problems–not just through routine calculations and cost accounting, but more generally, through an intuitive appreciation of what numbers really mean [1]. Without patience for emotional or qualitative arguments, engineer-representatives would find the data, discuss the numbers, and soon invent a process to reach a solution. If the cabinet is full of engineers then there wouldn’t be a lot of jabber or off-topic filibustering. An engineer would state the problem and proposed solution concisely in about 5 minutes, using diagrams and maybe a Powerpoint presentation. And there would be a schedule, one that dominates all discussions. Occasionally they may run late, but by and large things would finish on time.You’d never see supplemental appropriations; a plan, with contingencies and worst-case analysis, would accompany the budget for the president’s signature. [2]

||namO Bhaartam, namO Sanskritam||
1. Michael C. Loui, November 13, 1992
2. Jack Ganssle, May 31,2005


About AAryan

Husband, Dad, Engineer and a Dreamer.
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