The life and work of the national engineering awards becomes an unpublished book

To this day, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake remains the largest in recorded history and although it had serious consequences, these could have been worse: hence the importance of “Operation Riñihue”, led by engineer Raúl Sáez Sáez , who managed to control the overflow of the homonymous lake after the earthquake. This accomplishment is just one of many that earned him the first National Award of the Chilean College of Engineers, an award that since 1992 has recognized men and women who have contributed to engineering in the country.

Sáez’s is one of the stories found in the book “Premios Nacionales Colegio de Ingenieros”, jointly prepared by the Colegio de Ingenieros and the Babieca publishing house, which highlights the life and work of the 27 winners to date.

It is an edition in Spanish and English with archival photographs and illustrations. Each biography tells not only the “engineering” life of the winners of their respective achievements, but also careful intimate portraits full of curiosities. For example Eduardo Simian, an engineer awarded in 1994, in addition to discovering the first oil well in Magallanes and being director general of Enap, was the goalkeeper of the Chilean soccer team.

Stories like this provide playful reading, but without forgetting the contingency in which they are published. As we read on the back cover which explains that the book was published this year “in a post-pandemic Chile; a key moment in which innovation and technology play a fundamental role and in which representatives of the public and private sector are making every effort to continue contributing to the development of the country. This scenario makes the book a real contribution to discussion and reflection.

Service vocation

For Raúl Alcaíno, former president of the College of Engineers, the book, among other things, highlights the dedication to service of a large number of the winners, as well as being a reference for future generations, especially for young engineers. “Through the lives of the winners, and on each page, one can get an idea of ​​the history of engineering in our country over the last 50 years, and at the same time remind the new generations that Chile is not part of Today, it is the product of effort, sacrifice, dedication to the service of so many generations. Nothing ends today and nothing begins tomorrow in building a country,” he sums up.

Enel Chile was one of the companies that supported this initiative. Its president, Herman Chadwick, comments that “it is very important to recognize the great engineers of Chile who are, in turn, those who have contributed to the country. This is particularly important for Enel, formerly Endesa, which was a place where many of them trained and worked. Endesa and Ingendesa were companies”. And he adds: “These prizes also have a very important meaning both for those who receive them and for those who know the type of prize that is awarded. I congratulate the College of Engineers for this initiative”.

For her part, Teresa Collados, national councilor of the college, believes that the prize awarded by the union “is a recognition, in short, of Chilean engineering, which enjoys great international prestige. And an encouragement for him to continue to maintain the high level he has. The awarded people are a great example for those who continue this professional path. From another point of view, it is a way of showing the community the importance of engineering and of the ethical and technical behavior of civil, polytechnic and commercial engineers in many areas of people’s lives”.

As if a reflection of the changing times, when reviewing the list of winners, the first winners are men, which has changed over the years as women have also started to be awarded.

In this regard, Collados says: “I am not in favor of forced quotas for this, but I prefer it to be strictly the merit of the people. However, the inclusion of women in engineering derives from a fundamental stimulus, also from primary and secondary education, in scientific and mathematical subjects”.

The expert adds that “the College of Engineers has proposed to increase the incentives so that adolescent girls and boys are more interested in these topics. With a larger base of female engineers, they will have far more opportunities to be nominated for this and other engineering-related awards. The proof that this may be possible is that the last two winners are women, on their own merit.

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