Historical antecedents to discipline cross-fertilization evince on a daily basis in all of our lives without our awareness. Importing the notion from personal hygiene into medicine fairly revolutionized it: hand-washing. Sterilization of instruments was, in a sense, an extension of this idea. Sterile procedures and surgical environments – an extension of that. All surgical procedures have some elements in common: preparation of the environment and patient, preparation of required instruments, inclusion of appropriate personnel,.. All of these highly evolved procedures can be traced back historically to two core needs: the need for a surgeon to thoroughly wash their hands – and – the need for a patient to be surgically addressed. It was not 'statistics of success' that drove this evolving scenario; it was awareness of correctness and ubiquitous mandate within the discipline. The two key notions boil down to self-regulated awareness. Let us examine another sequence of innovation relating to steam: pressure cooker, steam engine, and self-regulating/governed steam engine. The first predates the second by approximately 40 years. The third postdates the second by almost 70 years! Can we blame this sluggish progress on lack of need? This author contends discipline collective mental impedance is the actual culprit. Human beings appear intrinsically resistant to change regardless of benefits associated with them. The anthropological adaptive value of this must be just as factual. However, this text is not about the anthropological origins of modern mental impedances; it is about the remediation of them for the common good – and – awareness of a specific set of novel procedures relating to all engineering disciplines.
There are many factors pressing upon engineering, as a whole, for change: 1. economics: engineering firms are expected to be run as efficient businesses implying profit margins competitive with other completely dissimilar endeavors, engineer renumeration is expected to be high compared to other professional disciplines, clients expect designs to be operationally efficient regarding monetary costs,.. All of these boil down to two highlighted factors: expectations about money. 2. environment: contrasting the previous concerns are those that exclusively focus on ecosystems and the media in which they reside / interact with, several watchdog groups can be identified as belonging exclusively in this domain, global awareness indicates we can no longer simply pacify these groups with typically infeasible mandates such as regional limits on CO2 / carbon emissions, these mandates are regionally inequitable and patently unfair when considered globally and historically. 3. humanity: we lose awareness of the fact that engineers are human beings designing systems for human beings, at the moment, we have not trained AI/robots to do this for us; at the moment, we are it; engineers are the prime agents for positive change on the planet (increasing equity on a global scale).
Within the engineering community, there are many pressures for change: increasingly scarce/inadequate resources and facilities for research, an associated increase in competition for those resources and facilities, an ambient mood of mistrust engendered by a global culture of mistrust, and diametrically opposing efforts such as these attempting to inspire global collaboration and cooperation for the common good (including our ecologies). Equity becomes the common core value in all these concerns regardless of local/global scope. This indicates the four core notions of the systems approach need appending of a fifth: regeneration.
We can attempt to create this required fifth leg in several ways: using the systems approach, fictionally, brute-force, cross-discipline fertilization, or a mixture of them. The first implies the systems approach has the minimal capacity to modify itself: in point of fact, it does. It also implies approach four. One and four are 'joined at the hip' inextricably. Two was listed because this author is also a screenwriter of sorts.. Many events in his life were inspired by fiction; in other words, fact was inspired by fiction. This 'agent for positive change' is consistently undervalued by academics and engineers who are practical at the core. Considering the efficacy in this author's life, engineers should pay attention to fiction more. Please forgive that aside. This author envisions brute-force development much like a team of TV writers 'under the gun' of a deadline which typically results in puerile bat-guano as product. Brute-force development rarely works as intended and rarely produces anything of any intrinsic value. It is not a viable problem solving strategy. As stated previously, cross-discipline fertilization is inextricably linked to the systems approach when considering self-modification. The bottom line here is: we can never appropriately self-modify without some appropriate external reference. No man/woman is an island; no system is ever completely isolated. Historically (factually), it was the combination of: the systems approach attempting to self-modify via this author, fiction in various forms, and ultimately discipline cross-fertilization which inspired the required fifth leg of regeneration.
Brute-force / external mandate: this never works on a long-term basis and the community of engineers will never accept it. In fact, a natural opposing force within the community will arise and nullify any temporary benefits of the fifth leg. This option is actually impossible considering the core principles within the fifth leg are diametrically opposed to this strategy.
Internal mandate: although possible, this strategy is almost as undesirable as the prior. Unless we could present the fifth leg as necessary to engineering as hand-washing is to surgeons, this option becomes unviable. This author has already attempted instigating this particular strategy without success.
No implementation: considering the pressures for change upon and within the engineering community, our common precarious position as human beings, and our increasing awareness as equal stakeholders in our global inextricably connected Earth-system, this option is unviable.
Shared development and implementation: considering the others, this option becomes the only viable implementation strategy. The text on regenerative engineering is merely a skeleton, the core concepts are there, the appropriate case studies are there, but the holistic perspective evinced in this paper is sorely lacking. In point of fact: the current text is a product of three seminal factors and is clearly a product of a single individual. The 5-4 regenerative engineering process requires at team of individuals.
This author pleads with the reader: please do not neglect this historic opportunity for enduring positive change within our engineering community and the inevitable positive global effects implied by the framework. This is our chance to make a significant positive lasting difference.
Salvatore Micheal, RIO cofounder, 2012/OCT/06