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Engineering! The "Rodney Dangerfield" Of Professions

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.580.1 - 11.580.8



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Paper Authors

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Ahmet Zeytinci University of the District of Columbia

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Philip Brach University of the District of Columbia

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



Why is it that in the United States engineering gets the least respect among all the professions? Did you know that every member of the Chinese Politburo is an engineer? In Germany, engineering is one of the most prestigious professions, ranking before the medical profession. According to “Marilyn”, a columnist in Washington Post, Sunday Magazine Section, engineers represent one of the most important professions and at the same time one of the least respected. Here in America the populace does not know the difference between the person who drives a train and a professional engineer (P.E.). In fact they think PE stands for Physical Education (no slight intended to this admirable profession).

This paper will speculate on why this situation is as it is, and provide some suggestions for improving the image of engineering and engineers and for the role engineering education could play in improving the image and influence of engineers and engineering in American Society.

We all found humor in the famous line of the well-known comedian (of fond memory), Rodney Dangerfield, “…I don’t get no respect!” For Rodney it was funny (and made him a lot of money). For engineers it is sad and costs society a lot of money.

This paper is intended to take a serious look at the professional status of engineers and engineering with a little bit of humor in the style of Rodney.


I have not come to bury engineering but to praise it! As we all may know the famous quote from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar in which Mark Antony, when eulogizing Ceasar, says, “I have not come to praise Ceasar but to bury him.” Of course we know that Mark Antony proceeded to do just the opposite.

Why does engineering command such low respect? In today’s society there is virtually nothing that we enjoy that is not the result of the work of engineers and engineering. While the health professions deal primarily with the well being of individuals, the engineering professions are primarily responsible for the well being of society.

Where would we be without clean water? What would be the condition of society without waste treatment? What would be the quality of life without modern means of transportation and what would be the work environment without modern structures? Who do you know who doesn’t have a wireless communication device in their pocket or high-speed Internet connection at work or home?

Zeytinci, A., & Brach, P. (2006, June), Engineering! The "Rodney Dangerfield" Of Professions Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--606

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