On June 25, 2010, I was pleased to be inducted and sworn in as the current President of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia. The Club has a rich history, having been in existence for 133 years, and many of you know that it spawned not only local chapters and sections of several national engineering organizations, but in at least a few cases, was the starting point of these societies.
It is interesting to see what has changed in the world since the time the Club was founded. We often get e-mails telling us what things were like 100 years ago and how much better we have it today because of changes that are mainly technological. In 1911, there were no cell phones, no computers, and what we call "land line" telephones were a luxury. Most mass communication was through newspapers. Movies were around but were silent. Radio would not become a broadcast media for ten more years and television was but a dream. Travel was limited to the railroads on the ground and ships in waterways - man in flight was possible but very much experimental and very risky. Automobiles were not common. If you are detecting a theme here, indeed, these technological changes would be the work of engineers and scientists, so those items we seemingly cannot live without today are there for our use.
Also interesting, if you look back 100 years, is the status of the engineer. Engineers were held in much higher esteem then than now. Today, most people are not all that aware of what engineers do and we are often called the "stealth" profession - we do what we do but with little notice or fanfare. We need to change that. It is my hope that the Club can begin to take small steps to get the word out about what engineers do that is to the benefit of our communities as a whole.
I would also like to do what I can to keep the Club viable and growing, and this goes hand in hand with the enhancement of status of engineers in the community. When people know us and know what we do, it makes it easier for them to understand us, respect us and accept us. We need this, for a number of reasons. One major reason is that we need more engineers to continue to do what we do, so we need to make sure there are students going into science and engineering programs in the future to continue the tradition of service. We need educational organizations at all levels to recognize this and promote math and science programs to their students accordingly.
I hope my relatively small contribution, my service as Club President for the next two years, will achieve these and other goals. I would also challenge you to challenge me to be a good leader and make sure these goals are pursued and realized.
My esteemed predecessor, Eric Flicker, set the stage for the Club to be the coalescing force for engineering in the Delaware Valley. I hadn't used the word "coalesce" much before that, but I agree with Eric's vision on this and intend to continue this effort. We have made significant progress in getting the various societies and technical associations to communicate and coordinate, and this is a valuable effort that needs to continue.
Hillary Clinton told us it takes a village to raise a child. In my experience, it might take at least a subdivision to run the many volunteer efforts of the Club. We thank those of you who have taken active roles in the Club's various committees and certainly welcome any help. If you have an interest in helping, please feel free to let us know what you'd like to do and we'll certainly find something where we can put you to work. And, remember, just because we are the Engineers' Club does not mean other professionals cannot join - we would certainly welcome participation from all.
Please feel free to pass along any suggestions, ideas, or thoughts you may have on how the Club can do what we do more effectively. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Robert M. Wright, PE