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Now we can return to the question from the start of the chapter: what do engineers
really do?
Looking at the sample responses for the fire alarm panel company’s questions,
we can see many of the ways in which engineers provide value for their clients,
employers, and communities.
Engineers contribute value in two main ways:
• In the time available and to the greatest extent possible, engineers minimise the
human effort and the consumption of materials and energy needed to achieve a
desired result.
• Engineers provide a reasonably accurate forecast of the technical and economic
performance, cost, and time required for a given project, while also being reliably
capable of delivering results within these expectations.
A frequently cited quote on this issue reads, ‘An engineer can do for one dollar what
any fool could do for two’.3 However, this adage misses the value contributed by the
relative certainty of an engineer’s predictions and the ability to deliver, compared to
other people. In fact, an engineer’s solution may actually be more expensive, but it is
also more predictable and reliable. Chapter 11 discusses this in more detail.
There are many ways to do this. Engineering might provide a small product

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