How would YOU change a developing country?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Dawud Beale, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    I was thinking, and electrical and electronic engineering pretty much hold the key to any developed society.

    Given our knowledge of this field, if we had the potential to change something, and we happened to live in or were from a developed country, how would YOU use your knowledge to bring the country into the first world?

    I know there are small little inventions and contraptions that make life slightly more bearable but I mean BIG change, how would electrical and electronic engineering solve the problems?

    My first instinct was that we could just design all the technology needed to transform the country,we could use PLC's for steady power, pharmaceuticals, water treatment etc, we could create medical equipment, aircrafts using our electronic engineering skills, install proper network and telecommunication systems around the country, and so on and so forth.

    But the reality is, design engineers only really prototype things. A prototype is no use if it cant be manufactured on a larger scale, and also big projects like sewage and water treatment require massive capital, far more than your average engineer would have available.

    So is it the case that even if someone from the third world learned our field, they still couldn't really change anything? Would they be better off learning manufacturing first to build up the capability to produce things before starting to prototype new technology for manufacture that would bring you into the developed nations? Would they be better off becoming professional footballers or rich business tycoons so they would have massive disposable income to invest in these projects?

    I was thinking and surely there must be a way that people in our field could transform their nation if they were motivated and educated and had a vision, but i honestly dont see how they would achieve this as we are only really able to make prototype systems as design engineers. Is it better for those nations to aim for professional footballers and singers and manufacturing specialists, manufacturing seems to have worked for china?

    Is there a set model for developing as a nation and what would you do if your loyalties laid with a developing nation and you wanted to use your career to serve that nation? It seems to me that we are only really useful in developed nations where people can take our prototype designs and actually get them into production. Any information on this topic would be greatly appreciated, as it is of great interest to me
     
  2. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    Perhaps the best way we could move a developing country forward is through component manufacture and some sort of import/export business of electrical and electronic goods?
     
  3. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    Unfortunately, there are more ramifications than simply giving a developing nation technology. There are cultural, ethnic, political, economic, legal, among a myriad of other considerations that must be taken into account before simply handing over advanced technology to an underdeveloped country.

    Africa, at least what my ignorant butt has gleaned from the the news, has become a pretty good example of what I mean. There are people using the technology to create powerful gangs that do as they please since the government doesn't have much power over the gangs.

    Remember the Haiti earthquake a few years back? There was such an influx of money and resources into the nation that they had to prevent aid from coming into the country, the idea was, in part, that the free money would be more than what one would get working, so people would simply live off of the aid and the country's economy would be based off of donations.
     
  4. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    I think supplying a country with an important step of the global economy, i.e. silicon refinement, could be a way to create a cheap labor for a while, while stimulating a country's economy. Once the country was self-sufficient, they could offer another competitor in the global economy for whatever product they were geared toward...
     
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  5. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    I don't know about EE holding the key to a developing nation. That seems akin to talking about which part of an engine is most important or whether your liver is more important than your heart.

    While some nations certainly suffer because of a lack of natural resources, many (probably most) undeveloped countries remain undeveloped for cultural/political reasons that have to be dealt with before any substantive progress is realistically likely to occur.
     
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  6. praondevou

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 9, 2011
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    No.

    Technology IS available to these nations. They have other problems to solve. Corruption, in some countries ethnic conflicts, very unequal education for everybody, including adults. Very unequal salaries, such that it is easier to do some drug trafficking than to work.
    It can help to bring adults to be interested in politics and making the right choice when election comes. I used to live in such a country and I've seen many people voting for a candidate who was in prison for having stolen literally millions of taxpayers money. How ignorant do you have to be to do that??
     
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  7. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Sorry, I'm a luddite.

    While technology has undoubtedly brought many improvements to quality of life, I also believe that technology can also be our demise. I would never claim that quality of life in a "first world" country is superior than that of a third world country. In a fundamental sense, our way life in advanced countries is not sustainable. The future will be drastically different from the present.

    If there is anything I would want to bring to an underdeveloped country is the ability to go slow, live with what you've got, conserve and care for the planet.

    PS. Engineers like to think that they can fix the problems of the world. Sorry, we need to pay more attention to humanities and social sciences.
     
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  8. justtrying

    Active Member

    Mar 9, 2011
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    Society comes before technology not the other way around. Currently the world is being held captive by technology and I also think that unless we have a hard look at WHY it is here, the end will not be very nice.

    Being young, I hold the view that a car should only have mechanical components in it and that medical equipment should have the least microcontroller parts possible and be capable of being operated manually if something fails, but we are quickly moving to a time where everything is controlled by a central computer (and, btw, cannot be repaired on-site). Such is power of silicon... never wanted to live in a world like this, but then again nobody asked me.

    p.s. plumbing is one of the essentials for survival, not electronics, as it allows for prevention of spread of disease.

    p.p.s get the politicians out of there. Most countries are in extreme poverty because of the after-effects of colonialization combined with current politics and the in-fighting. Stop the external influence, support education and re-development through education, if wars break-out, let them be... might sound horrible, but that it is what it is
     
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  9. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    p.p.p.s Get the banks and corporations out of there. Exploitation and profit taking is what is destroying third world countries.

    I agree with you. Modern society and its dependence on technology has created systems that are brittle and have no resilience. When the power fails we will all be in the dark.
     
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  10. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    Keep the IMF out of there. Countries are selling their entire future economies into slavery to the IMF, in exchange for some perks now.
     
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  11. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    whilst i agree with much of what has been written here, i think as engineers, we are not really the specialists to be correcting the political and economic policies. To run a successful country you need a multitude of different skills.

    I wasn't clear on what i meant but im purely talking from an engineering perspective what would you do to contribute? lets assume its a country that has resolved the political and economic issues and is looking to develop.

    lets make it a little more specific with an example. your a native Zimbabwean who has grew up in america. you always dreamed of returning home but mugabe's henchmen made life unbearable. you became highly educated as an electrical and electronic engineer, studying the best the field has to offer, at top universities, complete post grad, working in top companies, in this hypothetical scenario, whatever is available to you in america, you have it in terms of skills and education.

    Mugabe dies and there is a revolution. his henchmen are put on trial and the country is runs their first free and fair elections. a very good man wins the elections and the country is buzzing with change. the new president calls on the dispora to return home, either to live, or to come back and forth bringing trade and skills.

    what do you, a dual american zimbabwe citizen, do with your electrical and electronic skills to improve zimbabwe as a nation and bring it amongst developed nations?

    all the political and economic issues such as corruption and loans and foreign interference and exploitation are now gone and its up to the people to start building
     
  12. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    We, or at least I, understand clearly where you're coming from but it demonstrates tunnel vision. My point is that technology or development is not the solution.

    For example, a civil engineer may be trained in building roads. When faced with transportation grid-lock, he/she sees building more roads as the only solution. There being too many cars on the road is never entertained as the problem.

    I was born in a third world country and studied in a "first" world country and specialized as a computer engineer at a time when there no computers in my home country. After graduation, I quickly realized that going back to my country and applying my skills could very well mean putting people out of work by applying computer automation. Is that progress and development?

    I think you are confusing technological development with improvement in quality of life and human happiness.
     
  13. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Technologically advanced countries need resources such as oil, gas, iron, copper and rare earth metals such as tantalum, lithium, etc.

    Third world countries can trade these for medicine, machinery and other finished goods.

    Where does this leave third world countries when these non-renewable resources are gone?
     
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  14. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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    If you guys get the chance, watch "Confessions of an Economic Hitman".

    The way we deal with other Countries, is to put them in massive debt; that can never be paid back.

    That way, we control all facets of their lives.

    The U.S. is getting closer to that by the day.

    We already have some people convinced that they, each; owe the Feds $55,000.

    I didn't run up that debt, so I don't owe them a dime....;)
     
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  15. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    I would go, and wait for a specific request. If no request came, they don't want anything. I would leave. If a request came, I would do my best to meet it exactly, no more, no less. Watch this.
     
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  16. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    275
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    mrchips, be honest. are you staying in the first world country you were educated in or returning home? if you are staying here, what is it that attracts you here and why cant that be achieved in your native land? why even study computer science in the first place if you think it isnt beneficial for mankind?

    I agree engineering isnt ALWAYS the solution but some times it is and when it is, we as engineers need to be using it.

    you cant possibly think life was better 300 years ago.

    some african countries dont even have proper roads. places like somaliland have political stability, not much corruption, have fertile farms but they cant get the produce to the cities because of lack of roads. roads arent always the solution but they are sometimes.

    this is about when engineering IS the solution, not about when it isn't.

    are you suggesting engineering brings no good for humanity at all and that there aren't good things an engineer can do to make a nation a haven to live in? isnt that the goal of a nation, to become a paradise on earth for its inhabitants? e.g. military technology to prevent invasion and war so the citizens dont have to endure destruction, pharmaceuticals to defend against malaria and such like, water purification and sewage management systems, energy production etc. if we agree that this is the goal, what can you as an engineer do for your country or are you saying its better off than britain (in which case i presume you wouldnt want to live here any more and headed home to work on a farm?)
     
  17. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    but how would the country even know your there? how would a country wrecked by war and oppression know the best policies and development plans when even european countries cant answer this? what if its a free market economy rather than communist and not all services are pvided for by the state? what about an engineering company you could start up yourself?
     
  18. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    275
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    exactly, which is why those countries need to learn how to make the medicines and machinery for themselves.

    so we have one answer already.

    pharmaceuticals require PLC's so learning PLC's for power engineering, pharmaceuticals etc and then starting a business in a poor country and using those skills to develop native technology could be an option and also teaching those skills to natives so the technology doesnt die with you. i believe in on the job training and not university education for teh third world. many of them have masses of unemployed graduates so need work experience and jobs, not more classroom time.

    here is an example of pharmaceuticals in action in the third world to emphasise my point

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2012/10/2012101933223174554.html
     
  19. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    I'll check that out, sounds interesting
     
  20. Sparky49

    Active Member

    Jul 16, 2011
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    Interesting thread.

    We have figured out how to add years to life, at the expense of life to years.
     
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