A new campaign launched by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) aims to promote the engineering profession and raise awareness about the role engineers play in making the world work.
The #AnEngineerWasHere campaign launched Sept. 20 in Toronto with the goal of reminding people that in this fast-paced, rapidly changing world, the role of engineers is constantly evolving, yet often overlooked, said OSPE CEO Sandro Perruzza.
"When people think of engineers, they think about infrastructure, but what we’re trying to do with this campaign is show the other industries, the other sectors that are impacted by engineers," he added. "We’ll talk about the different facets of engineering, we’ll walk to University (Avenue) and talk about engineering in hospitals, to the financial district and highlight how engineers are involved in the investment industry quite a bit now. The focus is really ‘What would society be like if it wasn’t for engineers?’ One of our key messages, especially in today’s society when everyone is worried about the economy, is that engineers are the creators of wealth. The products they invent get commercialized and bring international investment into Canada so it creates wealth for us all."
The work of the engineering profession impacts almost every part of daily life from towers and city grids to cars, phones and computers, Perruzza noted.
The #AnEngineerWasHere campaign featured a number of initiatives. The OSPE, its members and partners (including Metrolinx, Siemens Canada and the CN Tower) took photos of buildings, public transit vehicles, stations, rail lines, streets and bridges and other objects and machines engineers were involved in designing, along with yellow tags that read "#AnEngineerWasHere" and posted them on social media.
"We launched a social media campaign because we really want to bring the awareness all over Ontario and to have engineers who are outside of Toronto participate as well," said Perruzza. "This is the first time we’ve embarked on a social media campaign like this and we’re very excited to see how it works out for us."
The campaign also included ads on Toronto Transit Commission subway screens promoting the #AnEngineerWasHere hashtag, and directing people to www.anengineerwashere.ca for information on what it means to be an engineer in Ontario.
"The website will educate the general public about what engineers are doing and what it means to be an engineer," explained Perruzza. "You have to be licensed by the Professional Engineers of Ontario, not just graduate with a degree."
In addition, OSPE staff and members also hit the streets of downtown Toronto to spread the word and raise awareness, hosting a "day-of activation" at the intersection of Bloor Street and Church Street and handing out tags, coffee and doughnuts to encourage the public to participate. Ryerson University engineering students also ran a fundraiser for SickKids Hospital on the same day, so OSPE worked with them to raise money for the cause, while raising awareness for engineers.
According to the OSPE, volunteers interacted with 11,800 people on the day-of activation and distributed close to 3,000 #AnEngineerWasHere tags. Following the launch, OSPE gained 86 new followers on social media across all channels. #AnEngineerWasHere was tweeted 430 times and reached 390,764 people. There were also 169 posts on Facebook and 2,272 likes, shares and comments. On Instagram, there were 45 public posts and 2,383 in total engagement including favourites and comments.
Another part of the campaign involved reminding government that engineers need to be at the table before decisions are made regarding infrastructure, climate change and other important issues, Perruzza explained.
The climate change action group, which will be providing advice to the government regarding climate change, includes 20 people and not one of those is an engineer, Perruzza pointed out.
"How do you set policy without understanding the science behind climate change?" asked Perruzza. "How do you set policy without understanding the different options around climate change adaptation and mitigation? When they put together this group to actually start the conversation about what the government should be doing around climate change, that’s when engineers needed to be involved, not at the end. It’s not that we haven’t been asking, we’ve been asking from the very beginning. It’s just that our requests have been ignored."
Engineers can be part of the solution, concluded Perruzza.
"What we’re saying is, how can you make decisions when you don’t understand the evidence?" said Perruzza. "They come to engineers after that and what we’re saying is you need to come to engineers at the beginning of the conversation. Engineers are in the best position to help you identify what the problem is because they have a multi-faceted background, they’re natural problem solvers but part of that process is understanding all the different ways things interact with each other and that’s why engineering is called an applied science. We say engineers need to be involved in the discussion stage, not after a decision has been made."