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Opinion | Recognizing our engineers

“The contributions of engineers are literally everywhere and benefit everyone.”

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This is Engineers’ Week, a week during which we honor the profession of engineering and the contributions of engineers to public safety and quality of life.

Whether it’s clean water you drink; gas and electricity you use to keep warm in winter and cool in summer; medical advances that add to your quality of life; or fast, safe and efficient transportation, the contributions of engineers are literally everywhere and benefit everyone.   

Engineers played a crucial role in developing and delivering the COVID-19 vaccine in record pace, in converting CPAP machines to ventilators, in creating highly specialized glass vials to supply the vaccine, and in designing and delivering to market products that kept us safer and healthier than otherwise.

Economic growth and productivity, public health and safety, energy independence, military security and freedom all have their foundations in the profession of engineering.

Alabama is blessed with eight colleges of engineering to train and prepare individuals from around the globe to contribute to the betterment of mankind through the profession of engineering.   These universities and associated accrediting agencies equip our engineers to make sound and thoughtful decisions concerning product specifications – products that result in safe and secure systems and procedures. 

While some would use a one-size-fits-all, lowest-initial-cost approach to product selection and purchase, experienced and knowledgeable local engineers are best qualified to make these judgments. Let’s leave it to the educated and experienced professionals to ensure product reliability, long-term value and safety of our infrastructure systems. These priorities must always outweigh expedient and short-sighted criteria such as initial cost.

Manufacturing in Alabama is strong, and we have engineering powerhouses in our iron and steel, aerospace, medical, automobile, agricultural, pulp and paper, timber and other industries. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Alabama manufacturing employs 260,000 highly paid workers who represent 13 percent of Alabama’s workforce, more than one in eight of all our jobs. This is the fifth-highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in all our 50 states.

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This Engineers’ Week is a great opportunity to thank an engineer and a profession that down through the years has made our lives better, safer, more comfortable and secure.

Written By

Maury D. Gaston is chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama, and a director and past chairman of the state of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. Gaston is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University and manager of marketing for American Cast Iron Pipe in Birmingham.

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