Monday, October 29, 2007


You may wonder what relation do emotions have with engineering… Engineering is considered mostly in relation with mathematics and other positive sciences. This misconception arises from the wrong systems definition that we use to make. A system may roughly be defined as a structure that produces certain outputs for certain inputs outcome of which may be affected by some distortions from the environment. Although there exists a user in the real life which is excluded in this definition…

The inclusion of the user to the definition of the system may become a necessity in some cases. The complexity or largeness of the systems that are used requires the inclusion of the user to the system design. For ex. the safety and security of an airplane depends largely on the flight crew. Thus the system is designed according to this phenomenon.

An Air Traffic Control system, a nuclear reactor or even a traditional electric reactor, any system of which safety or security is vital depends on a single main human feeling: TRUST.
The pilots have to trust the air traffic controllers, the controllers have to TRUST the control devices and the engineers who develop and maintain them. The difficulty is not to assemble an electronic device box or running an assembler program but to BUILD THE TRUST of the users to this box or program.

Indeed, if you think a little bit, you may share the idea that, even though it is never expressed explicitly, from requirements to delivery and, from the calculation of costs to long term maintenance and enhancement, all over the project lies small and large, many conditions, suggestions and advises related to TRUST.

A good and successful engineer is one that you can easily trust, one that works like worshipping, one whose word is always true and when it is not, one who makes all the sacrifices to make his word come true with dignity, one who has no lies, no tricks, no guiles, one that can never be bribed, one does everything in his hand not to bribe and when he is obliged to do so one who knows very well that bribing hurts his very own efforts. Bribery and other kinds of social decay hurts first of all the feeling of TRUST in LARGE SYSTEMS and the projects that develop them.

When inspected closer, it can be easily seen that emotions such as fear and compassion may play secondary but important roles in some of the engineering projects… These effects can be observed in the behaviour of the teams at the end of the big projects or in the behavioural patterns of people performing jobs that may affect the lives of many people… The management of a project is not the application of some patterns such as MIL498, ISO12207 in a ‘military style’ without understanding their spirit.

The ability to control the motivation of a team and to lead it successfully through an engineering project lies in managing the emotions of that team. If you suggest otherwise, I would like to pose this question to you: The job is exciting, the payments are satisfying, then why do some of the engineers commit suicide?

You can find the name of a vitally important article related to this subject below at the end of my article. You may not only find the basis of some of my opinions above, but also health problems related to concentrating too much for too long durations, etc. which are related to the affective fundementals of large systems psychology. I will be concentrating on affections – affective disorders etc. subjects related to emotions in engineering in the near future.

Of course, belongs the last word to CONSCIENCE… European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation(EUROCONTROL)’s civil servant evaluation form which is filled every two years, has 12 items. One of these 12 items is ‘professional conscience’. May the forthcoming LARGE SYSTEMS companies of our ountry not forget the ‘professional conscience’ in their personnel evaluations. May our country not ‘give herself up’ to the European Union just for realizing this kind of simple things…


Note: Please continue to Brian Bayly’s The Brain’s Internal Reward from Matching which you can find on the Internet. I have done a Turkish translation and editing of this article also. You may find it in the same blog. It resides here in the Turkish version.