What we do

Earlier this week, the loved one of a man I used to babysit was pushed into the path of an oncoming subway train car, by a stranger, and soon after died of their injuries.

While the death seems random, even cruelly so, it's one of many like it: Every year, people die on Berlin's various railways. Across Germany hundreds do, many of them similarly at metro train stations.

When disaster strikes, my thoughts soon dwell on analysis and prevention. For this particular case a well-demonstrated solution already exists: Platform screen doors, which I strongly hope the Berlin subway will eventually be retrofitted with.

As engineers, we deal in the makeup of the world all of us collectively inhabit. We help make and hammer away at the stuff of civilization.

We should all be offended by ill effects that may be prevented by means of better engineering. Our labor facilitates culture, but it's also on us to keep culture and its agents - people - safe.

It feels good that we enjoy many opportunities to act on our responsibility: Pick what we work on, weigh our concerns well, work diligently and pass on our knowledge. Make better engineering more affordable and available in this way.

This is true for any application of civil engineering, like a railway system, but just as much for any software system that users commute their thoughts and concerns through, if not their bodies.