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Libya Elects Engineer To Acting Prime Minister Post

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the libya-to-become-tech-center-of-africa dept.

Government 188

PolygamousRanchKid writes in with this quote from CNN: "Libya's transitional government picked an engineering professor and longtime exile as its acting prime minister Monday, with the new leader pledging to respect human rights and international law. The National Transitional Council elected Abdurrahim El-Keib, an electrical engineer who has held teaching posts at the University of Alabama and Abu Dhabi's Petroleum Institute, to the post with the support of 26 of the 51 members who voted. ... El-Keib emerged victorious from a field that initially included 10 candidates. ... He is currently listed as 'former faculty' on the website of The Petroleum Institute, which said he served as chairman of its electrical engineering department and lists him as an expert in power system economics, planning and controls." PRK adds: "Has there ever been an engineer in the top spot? ... Is this a good idea? Or are techies doomed in politics?"

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188 comments

Engineer in top spot? (2)

moichido (1120561) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921664)

Does Jimmy Carter count?

Re:Engineer in top spot? (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921798)

Sheesh..I hope not.

Likely one of the nicest presidents (Carter), but also pretty much the most ineffective...and in his later years, has turned kinda batshit-crazy....

But nice guy tho...years back, I actually ran into him and his wife on Bourbon St....shook his hand, etc. I think that was back in the late 80s.

Anyway, good luck to the new Libyan guy. I doubt he can hold those promises...if he does, I forsee some crazed eyed guy yelling 'Allah Ackbar' (or whatever the fuck they yell) and tries to blow him up.

Re:Engineer in top spot? (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922896)

(or whatever the fuck they yell)

D{u|i|e}rka D{u|i|e}rka!

Re:Engineer in top spot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37923298)

but also pretty much the most ineffective...and in his later years, has turned kinda batshit-crazy

[citation needed]

I've heard the same thing about Reagan, but I wouldn't claim it as some sort of known fact, as it's a lousy argument and trollish. You shouldn't get your base facts from men who sell fear for a living.

Re:Engineer in top spot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921810)

Before him, Herbert Hoover was an Engineer as well. And I believe one of the presidents of Israel. Or maybe it was a Prime Minister.

Re:Engineer in top spot? (2)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922036)

I believe Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president, was a chemist

Re:Engineer in top spot? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922102)

China's Jiang Zemin has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.

And now for a crass joke pertaining to Libya - remember that article that stated that engineers are more likely to become terrorists?

Re:Engineer in top spot? (3, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922410)

Engineers of Jihad [ox.ac.uk]

Re:Engineer in top spot? (2)

ArieKremen (733795) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923270)

Yitzhak Rabin was a civil engineer.

Tukmenbashi was an electrical engineer. (3, Informative)

gyepi (891047) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921888)

Turkmenbashi, aka Saparmurat Niyazov [wikipedia.org] was an electrical engineer. Arguably was a pretty bad idea to let him get that position.

Re:Tukmenbashi was an electrical engineer. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922202)

I propose a new rule modeled after Godwin's law: Turkmenbashi invocation. If something was instituted as a Turkmen policy between 2 November 1990 and 21 December 2006, it's automatically a bad or laughable idea.

(And now we wait for someone to complain about the generalization with a specific example of a good policy, thereby missing the joke.)

Re:Engineer in top spot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922128)

Good way to go if you want a successful country:
http://singularityhub.com/2011/05/17/eight-out-of-chinas-top-nine-government-officials-are-scientists/

Congress 22 out of 535 with eng or science background.

Peanut farmer, preacher, engineer (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922448)

Carter had been greatly influenced by a sermon he had heard as a young man, called, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" [wikipedia.org]
Jimmy Carter is a, let's say,"complex" [wikipedia.org] subject.

In the real axis he's a nuclear engineer. In the imaginary axis he's a Baptist preacher.

 

lets not forget these guys... (2)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923522)

Yasser Arafat was a civil engineer.
Oh, and that Herbert Hoover guy. He was a mining engineer.
Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo y Bustelo, 1st Marquis of the Ría of Ribadeo was a Spanish Prime Minister. He had studied civil engineering.
H. D. Deve Gowda also studied civil engineering and was Prime Minister of India.
José Sócrates, actually worked as a civil engineer and was Prime Minister of Portugal.
And let's not forget Pierre Tirard was a civil engineer that became Prime Minister of France in the 19th century.
I am sure there were a few others. Also, let's not forget those Roman Emperors who dabbled in civil engineering and architecture.

Which "The Top Spot"? (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921666)

Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer. I always thought it was funny in a depressing sort of a way that he chose to portray himself as a peanut farmer instead.

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921772)

Or that he would say "nucular?"

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (3, Insightful)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922492)

He didn't say "nucular" but then he didn't quite say "nuclear" either... it was more like "nukiyuh" as I recall.

I don't think he personally deserves 100% of the blame for the "failure" of his presidency, but he certainly deserves some of it. (They all do.) He presided over a rough time for the country with some unpleasant structural shifts underway. But in any case, he has been much more successful as an ex-president.

As for Lybia, I'm somewhat encouraged by their choice of an engineer for this job, rather than a career politician or clergyman, or some other charismatic type. The last thing that country needs is a new "Dear Leader." They need someone who can learn quickly in a wide range of topics, someone who can make informed decisions with a minimum of tribal bias, and deal with the myriad problems of getting the country back on its feet again.

Good luck to them! I hope they can make it work.

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921824)

No he was not. http://atomicinsights.com/2006/01/picking-on-the-jimmy-carter-myth.html

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (3, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921964)

That letter is somewhat deceptive, to say the very least. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

On December 12, 1952, an accident with the experimental NRX reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories caused a partial meltdown. The resulting explosion caused millions of liters of radioactive water to flood the reactor building’s basement, and the reactor’s core was no longer usable.[16] Carter was now ordered to Chalk River, joining other Canadian and American service personnel. He was the officer in charge of the U.S. team assisting in the shutdown of the Chalk River Nuclear Reactor.[17]

So yeah, I would say overseeing a nuclear reactor shutdown/cleanup (including being lowered in personally to work on the reactor) qualifies him for, if not "nuclear engineer", at least "knows a lot about nuclear power." Which is just about "nuclear engineer", considering what most politicians/presidents know about the issue.

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922030)

That's funny, because our director oversees a team of developers, yet he couldn't write a line of code to save his life. By your measure, he can call himself, if not a developer, then at least someone who "knows a lot about developing", which is "just about the same thing". No, just no.

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922348)

Then perhaps you would like to address the comment of him being "lowered in personally". Why would a manager or other non-technical person be personally lowered into a reactor building to work on it?

When a high priority change comes in, does your boss personally check out the source code and get to work on it?

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922150)

James Carter was a US Navy officer in the nuclear power field.

No, that doesn't make him a nuclear engineer.

It makes him pretty knowledgeable about Naval Nuclear Power Plants, but most any Senior Chief in Naval Nuclear Power would have been at least as knowledgeable.

Re:Which "The Top Spot"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922430)

Former Navy nuke here.

Jimmy Carter, as with most US Navy nuclear engineers are not "practicing engineers" in the modern sense. Carter was an engineer in the 1800s meaning of the word (i.e. ship's engineer, train engineer or manufacturing engineer).

That said, Carter and other people trained by the US Navy are incredibly good at what they do, and it is an insult that the word engineer has been co-opted by a bunch of people that want their bachelor's degree to be better than your.

Cheers For Engineers !!!1 +4, Informative (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921696)

the record for humanities is horrific:

  Hitler was a painter.
  Mao was a librarian.
  Stalin was a preacher.

Yours In Moscow,
K. Trout, C.I.O.

Re:Cheers For Engineers !!!1 +4, Informative (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921814)

And most of the previous and current Chinese leadership are engineers. Aren't they wonderful?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generations_of_Chinese_leadership#Third_generation [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generations_of_Chinese_leadership#Fourth_generation_.28current.29 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cheers For Engineers !!!1 +4, Informative (4, Insightful)

janeuner (815461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921838)

Compared to their predecessors, they are saints.

Re:Cheers For Engineers !!!1 +4, Informative (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923506)

"Aren't they wonderful?"

If you consider what was necessary to move China into modernity and keep it stable, YES, they ARE "wonderful".

Re:Cheers For Engineers !!!1 +4, Informative (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922098)

You forgot to add:
W got his degree in History (and obviously learned nothing).
reagan got his degree in sociology (not economics as some now falsely claim).

It would appear that some of the worst presidents of the last 100 years are nothing but liberals gone bad.

Re:Cheers For Engineers !!!1 +4, Informative (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922376)

W got his degree in History (and obviously learned nothing).

Obviously he needed repetitions, which he did during his two terms.

Re:Cheers For Engineers !!!1 +4, Informative (1)

sarhjinian (94086) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922898)

One the funniest things about Reagan is that he's the only president to have headed a labour union.

Pol Pot would have been an engineer (2)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923484)

If he hadn't failed his exams.

But then it's his failing that made him perfect for the communist movement promoting ignorance as the ideal. The Killing Fields may never have happened had ol' Saloth been more dedicated to his studies.

The basic way to fail.. (1)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921702)

..is because those not normally in politics are surrounded by people who wish to maintain the "status quo" and are fearful of change. Regardless of how amazing an idea is, regardless of how well it would work, those that are in power are afraid to lose it and stymie what could be real progress from an out-of-the-box thinker.

Just my .02 microns worth.

Re:The basic way to fail.. (3, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921800)

Ah, but there's essentially a political vacuum in Libya right now. The "status quo" is practically anarchy - there's no politicians interested in maintaining it. So it just might actually work, there.

Last premier of China (5, Informative)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921716)

was an electrical engineer (PhD).

Re:Last premier of China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921842)

According to wikipedia...

The current president of the PRC was educated as a hydraulic engineer.
The premier was educated as a geologist.
The chairman/party secretary for the main (only) party was educated as an electric tube engineer.
The chairman of the CPPCC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_People%27s_Political_Consultative_Conference) was educated as an engineer.

I'd say that the Chinese know how to pick a politician, but all evidence suggests the contrary.

Re:Last premier of China (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37923020)

Also, the current Chancellor of Germany (our equivalent of the president, since the actual president is more like a decorative figure here) is a "Dr. rer. nat." of theoretical chemistry who did her diploma in physics.
Her dissertation had the title "Untersuchung des Mechanismus von Zerfallsreaktionen mit einfachem Bindungsbruch und Berechnung ihrer Geschwindigkeitskonstanten auf der Grundlage quantenchemischer und statistischer Methodenâ which means "Analysis of the mechanism of decay reactions with simple bonding breakage and calculation of its velocity constants based on quantum-chemical and statistical methods."

Which sounds pretty cool, huh?

And she still has no spine, no freedom from false social conditioning, the pressure of the USA and lobbyists, has all the typical sleaziness of politicians plus the GDR boondocks "charme". Which results in pretty bad politics.

Re:Last premier of China (2)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923052)

>>was an electrical engineer (PhD).

The last time I checked, the majority of the senior rulers of China were engineers.

So to answer the question of the summary, yes. Engineers have run a country before.

This really does explain the development of China over the last 10 or 20 years.

A simple majority (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921784)

You will note that it was 26 out of 51. I would say that he will have a difficult time passing anything. Hopefully, others will work with him, rather than opposed to him.

Re:A simple majority (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921870)

26 of 51 with 10 candidates is actually quite impressive.

That does not predict what will happen to simple pass/fail votes, but on the other hand, if he can continue to keep that barely-majority intact for a lot of pass/fail votes that don't require supermajorities, he'll do fine.

Of course, he's an engineer, so he probably lacks in the social skills department, and that might be much worse for trying to maintain that minimal majority.

Re:A simple majority (1)

dskzero (960168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923520)

Of course, he's an engineer, so he probably lacks in the social skills department, and that might be much worse for trying to maintain that minimal majority.

Engineers =/= Nerds. Sure they might share some traits, but if you're an engineer and lack social skills, you won't get very far.

Re:A simple majority (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922006)

When I read this I was wondering how many were on the ballot. if there were 10 on the ballot, this guy could easily have gotten triple the number of votes of his next contender.

That's why runoff elections are good in cases like that, take say the top two or three from the first vote and then shake that out with one more vote.

Re:A simple majority (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922610)

Most run off style voting systems don't require a second poll if one candidate gets a majority of the vote in the initial run. If one person gets 51% of the vote and the other nine split the rest, the person with plurality (and majority) gets the seat. If one person gets 49% of the vote and the other nine split the rest, the person with plurality (but not majority) runs off against his/her top one or two challengers. It's possible they do it differently somewhere, but I've always seen it handled this way.

Re:A simple majority (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922092)

The vote was 26 of 51, in a field of 10 candidates. I would say that is pretty good. That doesn't mean that the other 25 who voted for someone else are against him, it means that 49% preferred someone else.

For example: Only 10% of Republicans would pick Ron Paul as their candidate against other Republicans, but over 90% would pick him over Obama. Vote tallies can be very misleading when you have 4 or 5 choices, no less 10.

For a country needing rebuilding, he might be help (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923614)

I'm kind of split, on the one hand, I think this guy will be good for physical reconstruction of oil infrastructure, water, power, sewer, roads, etc.

However, having him as the very first PM might not work so well, because in addition to the physical aspect of reconstruction, an equally pressing issue in terms of having a clock which will run out quickly, is establishing a viable political system in the country - constitution, parliament, elections, etc.

I wish him the best of luck with that.

Stupid generalization (2)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921786)

There are several engineers some of them are good leaders and some of them are not.

Re:Stupid generalization (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923204)

Indeed. Though I know Slashdot is (in general) fond of technocrats, there's no evidence they are any better or any worse as politicians than anyone else.

Iran is led by an engineer.... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921796)

Ahmadinejad (Iran) is a civil engineer and has a PhD.... Doesn't keep him from spouting nonsense.

Re:Iran is led by an engineer.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921952)

Ahmadinejad does not lead Iran, he is little more than a figurehead. Iran is controlled by a theocracy that's led Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Re:Iran is led by an engineer.... (2)

mrops (927562) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922464)

G. W. Bush (Jr) is not an engineer, and nothing keeps him from spouting nonsense either.

Re:Iran is led by an engineer.... (1)

npuzzle (1875242) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923258)

He may indeed be spouting plenty of nonsense; however, I wouldn't be so sure about the legitimacy of his PhD. His PhD was in transportation engineering and planning (could it get even more nebulous?), while he was the mayor of a province (source [wikipedia.org] ).

Set aside all the controversy regarding the abundance and legitimacy of PhD graduates in his entourage (source [kodoom.com] ), as a PhD student myself, I find it hard to believe that he could complete a PhD degree in a reasonable amount of time while working full-time as the mayor of a large province (Ardabil).

people will be puzzled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921802)

when they leave the PM's office with their envelopes still stuffed with cash, but with reconstruction plans scribbled on the back.

US Presidents (1)

janeuner (815461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921830)

IIRC, the last two US Presidents that started from an engineering background were Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. Depending who you ask, they were either awful leaders or they were screwed by fate.

Both were defeated after one term by orators, who became legendary leaders in the US mythology.

Re:US Presidents (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921956)

Depending who you ask, they were either awful leaders or they were screwed by fate.

You could say the same about Bush and Obama. Clinton is excluded because he was also screwed by his PA.

Re:US Presidents (3, Interesting)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923140)

Would Thomas Jefferson count? Not exactly an engineer, and more of an architect, he is credited with designing quite a few buildings in Colonial Virginia that still stand today, including the Virginia State Capitol, the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and his own home, Monticello. Though I think by trade, he was more of a lawyer and a statesman,. . .

who else was an engineer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921832)

Saddam Hussein was an engineer...

I can think of one (5, Informative)

Stultsinator (160564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921834)

Re:I can think of one (2)

kbahey (102895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922292)

Essam Sharaf, the interim Prime Minister, has been a big disappointment.

Initially, a lot of hope was on him to make things better.

But as time passed, it turns out that he is too soft, and the military rulers do not allow him to have the authority to do things that are pro-revolution.

Speculation is that a second wave of the revolution will happen, aimed at the military junta (SCAF = Supreme Council of the Armed Forces).

Arafat, Hu Jintao, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter (1)

Tester (591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921848)

They're all engineers.

It's not that uncommon at all. Also, the majority of the members of the executive committee of the communist party of China (the center of power in China) are eng. too.

Engineering tends to attracts the best and the brightest in dictatorship as it's seen as safer profession where there is less risk of angering the regime. And well, law of example is less important when you have mostly political trials..

Herbert Hoover... (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921856)

was a mining engineer. His administration took a lot of the blame for the Great Depression, but it was really the result of a bubble from a former administration popping, same as the Great Recession we're in now.

Re:Herbert Hoover... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922278)

Harding's and Coolidge's policies are what lead to the great depression, but Hoover did very little once it was popping. In many ways, his policies were similar to Obama's: lead around by CONgress.

Re:Herbert Hoover... (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922502)

Except that Hoover was very reluctant to pump money into the economy or try in anyway to save the banks. That's a pretty huge difference. There's also a pretty big difference between the depression that resulted from Hoover's actions (or inactions) and today's recession.

Re:Herbert Hoover... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37923072)

History doesn't repeat; but it rhymes. Some economists say that getting off the international gold standard tended to get a country out of the Great Depression faster. Today we have an international dollar standard. Ooops...

Note, this isn't an indictment of gold or fiat. The idea is that when an economic system using a particular medium of exchange enters a terminal state; you kill -9 the economic system by abandoning its medium of exchange. It doesn't matter if it's metal or fiat.

The goldbugs on Slashdot will surely find a way to hate this idea--while it suggests that gold is a potential replacement for the dollar, it also suggests that any number of other things are a replacement for gold when that system inevitably crashes also.

Re:Herbert Hoover... (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923050)

It's even been suggested that in some ways becoming President of the United States was a step down in Hoover's career. He had already written the standard textbook used for mine engineering, invented a new way to extract zinc from what was thought to be waste ore (basically creating Australia's zinc industry from a pile of junk), written the standard translation an important Latin work on metallurgy, and was involved in helping the US military during the Boxer Rebellion. His entry into politics was leading massive efforts to feed people affected by WW I throughout Europe and Russia, creating the Hoover Institution, and more-or-less created the modern US Department of Commerce out of what had been a fledgling organization.

And then he became president and screwed up royally, mostly because his economic advisers didn't how to combat recessions: Contrary to popular belief, he responded to the crash immediately, working feverishly to try to keep the US federal budget balanced via a combination of taxation and austerity measures, on the advice of his economic advisers who told him that this would restore confidence to the markets (sound familiar?).

Not a bad idea actually (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921864)

Considering that one of the crisis Libya faces involves oil production and gaining control of the resources generated from it, having an engineer who knows the industry is quite possibly the smartest decision they could make. Much of the corruption of the old Libyan government involved the oil production industry and misappropriation of profits by the companies that drill there. Hopefully this dude is honest and will help put an end to the worst of the oil abuses.

Re:Not a bad idea actually (1)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923202)

Yes, because having a President from the great state of Texas stopped America's problem with oil corruption....

Oh no.... (1)

Foxhoundz (2015516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921908)

Dr. Ian Malcolm: God help us; we're in the hands of engineers.

some countries most males major in "engineering" (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921920)

Of the the few that attend college. Its family pressure on sons. In response, college rename many more majors as "engineering" than in the US. Almost everything vocation, business, architecture, computing is called engineering.

Iran (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37921942)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , the current president of Iran, is a civil engineer.

Doesn't really matter (1)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37921966)

When you don't have absolute power and need to get things done, you have to build a coalition. But building such a coalition requires compromise, often moral compromise. Thus if you're not a politician when you enter government, you will become one soon enough, if not by desire then by necessity.

Don't get me wrong, dictatorships and oligarchies are far worse, but having someone with technical ability in politics won't make any difference -- what makes a difference is some with a clear sense of values and the ability to project it, and that's not a trait exclusive to any field of study.

Re:Doesn't really matter (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922016)

What one politician considers values, another considers oppression.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922074)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a civil engineer. How's that working out for Iran?

Ability (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922084)

I trust an engineer's ability to do politics about as much as I trust a politician's ability to do engineering.

Almost all of china leaders are engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922114)

and look how "bad" is their economy ...

Re:Almost all of china leaders are engineers (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922206)

Yes, but most of that was done by cheating. It is easy when you get one side to play by a set of rules, that you then break your word on constantly. The trick is to not rile up the other side and offer up all sorts of BS reasons on why you continue to break the rules.

uhh Iran? (1)

as_ntg (1992420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922124)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - Civil Engineering undergrad, PhD in Transportation Engineering. I am surprised I do not readily see his name yet. Though his actual level of power in Iran may be disputed he is certainly one of the most high profile engineers in politics that I know of.

longtime exile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922144)

The key word is actually longtime exile.

Dilbert as CEO? (1)

zarmanto (884704) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922164)

I think Scott Adams pretty much covered this all the way back in 1991... The week of November 4th thru November 11th [dilbert.com] to be specific. I guess now we get to watch and see if reality imitates art, yet again...

Desertification of politics .... (1)

kbahey (102895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922262)

In the Middle East, dictatorships made sure that no one can emerge as a competitor to the incumbent tyrant, and that has gutted two generations worth of politicians. Either they become servile to the tyrant, or they are eliminated (physically, politically, socially, or otherwise ...)

Also, remember that this is a transitional government still. He has not been elected by a public ballot. That will take around 8 months to happen.

Outside of the USA, there are lots of engineers, doctors, university professors, ...etc. who make it to be top political post.

It will take time to built a political cadre again in these countries, and many will be professionals, not only managers or lawyers.

Manmohan Singh - Not Engineer, but PhD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922368)

Indian Prime Minister.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manmohan_Singh

NYC Mayor Bloomberg (3, Interesting)

Demogoblin (249774) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922480)

NYC Mayor Bloomberg: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Bloomberg
EE from Johns Hopkins

John Sununu Sr.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_H._Sununu
John Sununu Jr: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_E._Sununu
Both MechE's from MIT

German chancellor is Physicist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922482)

I don't understand why we include blurbs like this in summaries: "Has there ever been an engineer in the top spot? ... Is this a good idea? Or are techies doomed in politics?"

You can start here: The German chancellor is a doctoral Physicist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel#Early_life

And there are others. Maybe you are asking why engineers have a lower representation then lawyers? Sounds like an interesting question. Why don't you do some research and come back when you got something meaningful to discuss?

Angela Merkel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922484)

Angela Merkel, head of government aka Chancellor of Germany, a physicist.

Branko Crvenkovski - Prime Minister and President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922580)

Branko Crvenkovski [wikipedia.org] served as Prime Minister, and later as President, of the Republic of Macedonia.

In 1986 he obtained a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Automation from the School of Electrical Engineering at the St. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje.

from what ive gathered based on slashdotters (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922626)

it seems like tons of other countries have hired post-graduate level engineers to run their countries and for the most part its turned out okay.

here in america i cringe at the thought of an intellectual or scientist leading the nation. they would predictably be branded an out of touch elitist.

Herman Cain? (4, Interesting)

timchampion (940519) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922638)

Herman Cain has a Masters in Computer Science from Purdue. Not in charge, but leading the Republican pack as of this writing.

Most common professions for politicians (5, Informative)

while(true) (626738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922778)

According to this article [economist.com] from The Economist the most common background for politicians word wide is Law (surprise!) and then comes (in order) Business, Diplomacy, Military, Journalism, Economics, Medicine, Academia, and Engineering.

Almost 20% of the politicians had a Law background while about 7% had an Engineering background.

Hoover and Carter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37922838)

Herbert Hoover graduated from Stanford with a geology degree and became a mining engineer on the job. Even brief biographies make it clear he was skilled in the technology of the time.

Let's face it, we want our Presidents to wheel and deal, cajole, compromise, maneuver, and most important, Get Things Done. Carter and Hoover clearly brought engineers' mindsets to their terms because they were problem solvers. This limited them but it's not hard to make the case it also made them excellent ex-presidents. Hoover organized food relief in Germany after World War II. Carter has worked for fair elections worldwide.

Being an engineer doesn't necessarily disqualify a person for high political office, but never forget that a good engineer has a narrower focus than a good politician.

Citizen Engineer (1)

trolman (648780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922866)

Much akin to the 80's and 90's where everyone was slapped with an engineer title. I was a Customer Engineer for a while but in reality an electronics technician. So an EE can now be a Citizen Engineer. Wonder who he knows/is related?

Try China (1)

Trubacca (941152) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922876)

China's current premier has a background in both geology and engineering. His predecessor was an electrical engineer. I don't know how that affects their political capability or decision-making, but I have difficulty seeing the skills and thought processes of an engineer translating well into the leadership of a global super-power. On the other hand, I don't think our politicians have much aptitude in that regard either, so who am I to judge? Different cultures have different leadership requirements, perhaps a state in the midst of reconstruction really needs an engineer to get their infrastructure back online.

A potential one for the US (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922916)

Herman Cain is not president yet, but he has a master’s degree in computer science

http://www.hermancain.com/about

Angela Merkel (1)

Plasmaphysiker (2458212) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922954)

Merkel was a physicist before getting swept into politics around the time of reunification.

Meanwhile, our country is run by lawyers (2)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#37922998)

So it appears that it's quite common that engineers and scientists run foreign countries. It's only we Americans who find this noteworthy, because our country is almost always run by lawyers - and I don't just mean our presidents. Sixty of our 100 senators are former lawyers. I can't help but think that lawyers have a very different approach to leadership than do scientists and engineers, and the thought doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. I'm not saying that lawyers can't be good and wise leaders. But what I am saying is that when government becomes an institution of lawyers, they inevitably import the institutional culture of lawyerism into government. Maybe that's why their governing feels more like a shifting battle of prosecution v. defense (though the sides occasionally change) where most of the energy is devoted to matters of procedure, rhetoric, strategy and "winning" rather than just doing the right thing for the country. Lawyers are people who are used to working on behalf of paying clients, and they must defend those clients to the hilt, not caring about whether they are actually right or wrong. That's as it should be. Now, of course the lawyers who move into government will tell you that "the American people" are their new clients, but in effect, I think it's the paying interest groups who buy our governing lawyers. So government is a battle of interest groups, each armed with a paid group of politician-lawyer-advocates who are expected to not worry about who's actually right. Their job is to win, or at least to keep "the other side" from winning. My foreign friends often ask my why the US only has two viable political parties. Could it be that because in the courtroom there are only two sides, and our politicians couldn't wrap their heads around a system that works differently? I feel like when the history of the decline of our country is written, something like this will be a part of the analysis.

I see a horrible new trend on the horizon! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923044)

As colleges and university Political Science departments decide that perhaps they can attract more students if they renamed their major to "Political Engineering". Sadly, these same people that consider PolySci to be "science" are the same idiots that would consider it to be "engineering" in an attempt to artificially boost their salary above minimum wage and hope for a job that doesn't involve asking people if they want to super-size their order of fries,. . .

Re:I see a horrible new trend on the horizon! (2)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923366)

As colleges and university Political Science departments decide that perhaps they can attract more students if they renamed their major to "Political Engineering". Sadly, these same people that consider PolySci to be "science" are the same idiots that would consider it to be "engineering" in an attempt to artificially boost their salary above minimum wage and hope for a job that doesn't involve asking people if they want to super-size their order of fries,. . .

Not happening in Canada, fortunately.

The title of "engineer" cannot be carelessly slapped onto any job title unless one is registered as a "Professional Engineer" (P.Eng). This requires a four-year degree program at an accredited university in an engineering program (STEM-based; science, technology, engineering, mathematics), resulting in a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) or a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng./B.E.). No artsy degrees count. This also requires four years of full-time work in industry, under the direct supervision of someone who already has his/her P.Eng. status, along with regular work reports, evidence of taking part in continuing professional development (CPD) hours (at least 30 per year if I recall correctly, which may be audited later on, requiring proof of registration at conferences, seminars, etc), and finally, an ethics exam. Why more countries don't have such strict rules in place seems quite silly.

I must admit, it drives me nuts when people attempt to attach the title of engineer to make their job look more respectable. A few common examples:
-Social engineer: fraudster, identity thief, con artist
-Sanitation engineer: typically a euphemism for a garbage man, in most contexts
-Political engineer: political science major who was had to take high-school level remedial math as a mandatory science elective

Mahmud Ahmadinedschad is an Engineer too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37923122)

so what?

Electing an engineer means jack-shit (4, Insightful)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923268)

Electing an engineer to a public office means exactly jack-shit. After graduating with an engineering degree, I can say that I've known plenty of engineers who were assholes, idiots, or both.

e4? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37923328)

share. *BPSD is

Islamic banking & education expert (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923472)

El-Keib is an expert in education and 'Islamic Banking'. He's the perfect person to introduce the kind of debt terrors the west are facing now in order to control and mine Libya.

Angela Merkel? (1)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37923630)

While technically not an engineer, Merkel studied Physics in school has a PhD in Quantum Chemistry.

You don't see many of those running for office in your hometown do you?

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