Engineering practices observed in South Asia


  • James Trevelyan The University of Western Australia



engineering practice, social culture, development studies, Global South, engineering education


The development of engineering skills in Africa could be improved by learning from experiences in South Asia where research has exposed significant weaknesses in the engineering education ecosystem. Research has shown how socio-technical interactions that involve collaborations with other people dominate the work of professional engineers. In contrast to wealthy, developed countries, societies in the Global South are often characterised by complex patterns of social behaviour where perceived reputation, socio-economic status, caste, tribal identity and language strongly mediate power structures and hence collaborative performances such as engineering. In addition, several environmental factors such as the local economy and business practices, labour market, education, weak social security, low trust in strangers, climate and geography all influence the ways that engineers practice in their firms. These factors, coupled with pragmatic responses within firms, and knowledge gaps such as incomplete perceptions on labour costs, make it much harder for engineers in South Asia to generate similar levels of performance as in wealthier countries. Engineers’ salaries and the cost of engineered goods and services of equivalent performance and quality may serve as objective indicators of engineering performances. This paper concludes with suggestions for engineering educators in the Global South to help a greater proportion of engineering graduates to become competent novice engineers in local enterprises with these socio-cultural and economic complexities.




How to Cite

Trevelyan, J. (2023). Engineering practices observed in South Asia. Southern Journal of Engineering Education, 2(1), 64–100.