Ethical Issues in My Profession
Electrical engineering is innovation at the forefront of technology, and it comes with a significant number of ethical issues. After visiting smartphone companies, learning about data, and experiencing the country-wide dependence on weChat firsthand, I’ve realized that cyber security and the protection of people’s data is crucially important when designing a new phone or communication platform. Knowing your market is also important, as Jane and Young valued the safety of their information a lot, but Hank didn’t recognize that as he assumed living in a communist nation meant that one didn’t value their information. Additionally, with engineering comes improvement to infrastructure. However, after seeing how the Olympic Village wiped out a hutong of Beijing and how little preservation of cultural sites exists in Shanghai, I think that engineers need to consider the immediate lives of the people they are designing for, not just what innovations would be the most futuristic. I believe that the largest ethical issue in engineering is balancing what’s best for the individual user as opposed to what’s best for the country, or the world, as a whole.
Educational Breadth as Professional Development
Interdisciplinary communication is perhaps one of the most useful tools for professional development. On this trip, I learned the importance of business in everything. Whether I work in industry, academia, or for the government when I’m older, the driving force behind projects I work on won’t come from sticky note ideation, but rather from the market. I’ve learned about market share and liquid markets and how absolutely crucial it is that business and engineering work together to produce a product or service that helps the world. The business majors I’ve met on this trip, in parallel with the company visits, have helped me realize that important company and governmental decisions cannot be made with a narrow engineering viewpoint only; but rather one must also consider the business side of things.
Lifelong Learning, Continuing Education as Professional Development
Mac was one person I met on this trip who hasn’t stopped learning and keeps his mind open to new technology and new viewpoints; and as a result he gave the impression of an extremely knowledgeable individual. Continuing to learn about new technology, other industries, and cultures different from my own can help me know my target market better and design specifically for them, much how Xiaomi designed the bottom front facing camera.
The Social Environment of Professional Life
There’s a delicate balance between work and family life, and this trip reminded me not to stop valuing family despite huge technological opportunities. Just sitting by the Alibaba tower and Beijing and watching people leave the office at 11pm – but only to pick up their McDonald’s delivery and go back to work – helped me realize that there’s more to life than just working and making money.
There’s another side to the social aspect of work as well: networking. At many of the company visits, I saw my peers networking with presenters, exchanging Linkdin’s and business cards. However, I personally prefer the more organic networking. For instance, when she was on top of the Shanghai Tower, Rashel responded to someone asking for help in Hindi, and that person ended up being a business man in California who offered her his information. I think networking in that way creates a more lasting relationship, so in summary, I’ve learned that it’s better to go out and do stuff on your own and reach out to other people in unexpecting ways to network, rather than depend on pre-organized events to leave an impression on someone.
Functioning on Multi-Disciplinary Teams
My group for our project was 2 engineers and 2 business majors, but even within that we had representation from finance, marketing, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Even after just a year of school, we began having conversations where we could hardly understand each other’s jargon. However, by the end of the two weeks, Jimmy and I could use “market share” in conversation and Matt and Colin knew what a system diagram was. Without both of these things, our presentation and idea would not have been as well developed. Multi-disciplinary teams can at first be hard to work on, as people have different ways of thinking, but ultimately they result in higher quality for the finished product.