Sustainability, design and engineering values
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Winkelman, Paul Martin
Institution: University of British Columbia, Canada
Sustainability issues are slowly being integrated into the design process. What is frequently overlooked is that the pre-existing value system of engineering may be hostile to sustainability principles. To explore this value system, the engineer is presented as a wearer of many hats (e.g., that of a soldier or dépanneur) who hypothetically develops a sustainable solution involving the installation of latrines in Rajasthan in India. The question is then whether this engineer is able to foresee the social issue where the latrines lead to the disempowerment of women. As a soldier, the engineer models the world after hierarchies; Maslow's hierarchy of needs suggests that one can deal with the physiological and worry about the social later. As dépanneur (owner of a corner store), the engineer values convenience; the latrine, though convenient, led to increased seclusion of women at home as they had lost their reason to leave the house. These engineering values are offered as possible “constraints” on the road to re-creating engineering design more in the image of sustainability.