The word engineer used to bring lot of respect and create a feeling of pride in the mind. The target was to become engineer, doctor, join armed forces, join police services, IAS etc. as these were the prime professions and the name itself used to attract respect.
In engineering profession the name “Engineer” used to create an image of a person wearing a hard hat, using an open jeep for his site travel and the image of blue prints, draftsman table, theodolite or leveling instrument, a soft spoken person managing men, material, machinery and giving his technical inputs on the difficult situations requiring decision from engineer based on the design, drawing and alternatives available. Sometimes the image was of a person posted in remote areas taking care of development of locals means an engineer was seen as a person working on social development and taking the responsibility what in today’s world is known by the name “CSR” or corporate social responsibility given by corporates to save their tax.
The field used to attract lot of fascination in the young minds. The designations were limited though projects were of bigger size. Since my childhood I used to hear very few designation in Construction Industry like Junior Engineer, Assistant Engineer, Engineer, Executive Engineer, Superintendent Engineer and Chief Engineer.
Since the advent of privatization and a mixture of various industries in construction industry like IT, Safety, Chemical, Automobile etc. & their culture, the designation started to move from Engineering towards management oriented. Though I personally do not agree but I’m sure that this must have been required in order to accommodate the engineering and non-engineering professionals in one stream and to create at par status of the two in the private organization. The amalgamation of two cultures i.e. engineering & non-engineering like finance, MBA etc. and the advent of new disciplines like quality, safety etc. has affected the working method of Engineers up-to a great extent.
As per my observation and experience shared by various stalwarts of the industry the role & responsibility of engineers have been diluted and that has in-turn affected the working style and the level of knowledge and expertise of engineers.
Since long I was trying to understand the reason that why the construction industry which is working on the process standardization, ISO 9001, Management procedures etc. since long have left the standardization of naming designation and roles & responsibilities associated with this. Rather this is the one industry which used to have and even now does have the designation and roles & responsibilities clearly defined in government sector then why the deviation is there in private sector. Also, the deviation is not small the engineer is being changed to manager from the day one of his starting the career, joining new organization and now the atmosphere is so created that until unless the term Manager in any form is not associated in the designation the person is seen as of lower value. For example everyone aspires to have the designation of Manager be it Assistant Manager, Deputy Manager, Manager, Assistant General Manager, General Manager etc. going forward the designation starts taking shape of corporate designation and gets converted into Vice President, Executive Director, Director, COO, CEO etc..
So far upto my knowledge added along with my upbringing of construction industry the management designation are meant only for the people managing the business and not the projects and only the Project manager who is actually supposed to manage the project using his technical and non-technical work force can be rightly referred as “Manager or Project Manager”.
Somehow in the presiding paragraphs of my essay I’m trying to find the relevance of engineers in an organization, project and industry. I could not understand the reason that why a self-sufficient, stand-alone profession need to borrow the designation from other fields that too not much relevant to this field? Does all engineers who so ever are involved as manager need to just supervise or manage the project? Then why do we need to invest so much in creating so many engineers? We can live with only specialized engineers in the field of design, chemicals etc. rest all we can choose the people from other non-technical / non-engineering fields.
This is very important for today’s management to understand the importance of engineers and their knowledge which should be utilized and updated on regular basis.
For example when we construct a small entity like a house on 80 Sq. Yard of the land then by going by the contractor’s mind who do not have any engineering skill and is backed by two other important skills like experience and management still cannot ensure a safe house in economical cost lasting for generations whereas an engineer can add lot of value in terms of adding the economy, safety, safe design and better quality with economical cost. Today we want our engineers to work only as manager and are dependent on the engineering value addition from the specified engineering consultants who may or mostly may not have first-hand site experience and so they also cannot ensure an economical design always. Though the contribution of engineering consultants cannot be demeaned by even an iota still the need of having knowledgeable execution Engineer at site cannot be overruled.
The HR managers and the management of construction industry need to work exhaustively on the reinstatement of the pride and respect of engineering as profession and to ensure the updation of their knowledge and its utilization on regular basis continually. Mere words of continual improvement and try to make the engineers behave like non-technical people will do no good to the profession.
To start with, to bring uniformity in the industry the top HR managers of the industry in consultation with labour & HRD ministry should start working on the uniformity of the nomenclature of designation and the roles and responsibilities expected & associated with that designation.
Hope that this long pending job shall be taken up soon by the Engineering fraternity without fail.
Let’s have the glory and respect of Engineering profession back.