Guest Post: Engineers-in-Chief


This guest post comes to us from my long-time friend Tom (though I did come up with the title by myself – amazing, right?). Inspired by our recent take on the roles of engineers in politics, Tom whipped up this little post for us to savor. Read it over, think it over, and let Tom know if you agree with his insights in the comments below.

One of Gov. Romney’s main selling points is his experience working with business. In theory, he would be able to use his experience to curtail spending, while creating more jobs. (I say “in theory” because the federal government is obviously a much different animal than a business, and many things could go wrong, but I digress.) However, there are many cases where a businessman in power may not do what’s best for the company and its products (cf. Dany Bahar and Lotus, and how long that partnership lasted). That concern is the reason Mark Zuckerburg is still CEO of Facebook, and why Steve Jobs remained CEO of Apple up until his unfortunate passing. Quite simply, the people who build things make decisions differently than the people who do business. So, in light of a recent blog post, let’s imagine the government is just another business, and take a (mildly tongue-in-cheek) look at how things may turn out if the government was run by engineers.

  1. Voting. Remember the hanging-chad concerns in 2000? Or the concerns over security when electronic voting machines came into use? Or just look at this nightmare. Election officials are responsible for producing the ballots, and those officials are either elected or appointed, depending on location. If they were engineers, they would take the time to design a clear, secure, easy-to-use ballot. None of this butterfly ballot strangeness.
  2. Legislation. Even in introductory engineering classes, students are taught to value coreectness over all else. Mistakes due to poor practice can have disasterous consequences. As a result, legislation passed by engineers would not subscribe solely to party politics, but rather answer the greater question of whether or not it will solve the problem at hand and meet certain requirements along the way.
  3. Accountability. As mentioned above, engineering projects have strict requirements to follow and goals to meet. To evaluate whether a certain piece of legislation is effective, one simply looks if it’s meeting the marks set. If not, then engineers are not afraid to go back to the drawing board to tweak their model.
  4. Productivity. All this work takes time. Most colleges of engineering have very rigorous workloads that require studious work and long hours. That sort of dedication would be useful to get things done in Congress, unlike the situation today.
  5. Budget. Problems happen when lawmakers try to deal with contractors, due to pressure to cut corners to offer the lowest bid. Engineers know the value of a job well done, and how to evaluate proposals to select based on best value, not lowest cost, avoiding massive cost overruns like with the F-35 project.
  6. Innovation. Quite frankly, law is a stuffy profession. With more engineers in the room, the field would adopt changes and become more flexible. Who knows, maybe casual Fridays will gain acceptance in Congress.

There are certainly other outcomes to a more technically oriented government, some of which nobody can anticipate. Others may be pretty obvious. Can you think of any more?

List them below in the comments!

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2 comments on “Guest Post: Engineers-in-Chief
  1. Lucy says:

    DO you know any good engineers we can nominate to fix this mess???

    • Thomas Massie (mentioned in our previous article) would be a good example of a politically inclined engineer, though I’m not gonna endorse someone who’s policies I’m not too familiar with. I’m certain there are others out there who would be great candidates – from what I’ve seen, a lot of engineers are conservatives!

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