Engineers pledge to train ethical values

Engineers pledge to train ethical values

Programme of the International Conference on the Training of Engineers, 1947. Image: TU Darmstadt archives
Programme of the International Conference on the Training of Engineers, 1947. Image: TU Darmstadt archives

The world looked on as the First International Conference on the Training of Engineers took place at TH Darmstadt from 31 July to 9 August 1947. Five hundred engineers, natural scientists and philosophers conducted a lively debate on the political and social responsibility of the technical and scientific intelligentsia.

The participants, still faced with the devastation caused by the Second World War, pledged henceforth only to conduct teaching and research in the technical and natural scientific disciplines for peaceful purposes. This also had implications for the future training of engineers: professional maturity alone would no longer suffice; the young engineers would also have to be ethically and socially competent.

From a summary of conference outcomes:

Article in the Darmstädter Echo of 2 August 1947. Image: Darmstädter Echo, 1947
Article in the Darmstädter Echo of 2 August 1947. Image: Darmstädter Echo, 1947

“We are all deeply imbued with the realisation that technology may never again be anything other than an ethical and cultural task.… We can reach this goal by strongly emphasising general education at technical universities or by cooperating with general universities. For this purpose, time will have to be made in the training courses, which will require a great deal of self-restraint on the part of teachers, and teaching methods will have to be redesigned.”