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A characteristic of human beings is that we develop tools and technology to adapt our environment to meet our needs. Engineers contribute to the development of many innovations that improve life.

In this chapter, we will begin by investigating how engineers work to meet human needs; we will describe a few of the greatest engineering accomplishments of the past and consider needs that engineering must meet in the future. We then consider an example of how engineering has dramatically improved health and well-being for most of the developed world: providing clean drinking water as well as treatment for wastewater.

Chapter Learning Objectives

After working through this chapter, you should be able to

  • explain the relationship between engineering and societal needs,
  • explain how engineering has influenced water systems in our lives,
  • describe the impact of an engineering solution related to water from an ethical viewpoint.

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