Citizen Engineer

Prentice Hall
David Douglas / Greg Papadopoulos / John Boutelle  
Prentice Hall
Total pages
August 2009
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The nature of engineering has fundamentally changed.  This book is both a handbook and manifesto for engineers of all types that shows how building more techno-responsible and eco-efficient products can translate to higher profits for businesses and an accelerated career path for engineers.


  • Systematically addresses crucial business, legal, environmental, and societal issues engineers were never taught about in school - but can now make or break their careers
  • Offers powerful insights into topics ranging from eco-responsibility to intellectual property to privacy
  • Table of Contents

    Preface xv

    Acknowledgments xix

    About the Authors xxi

    Introduction: While You Were Busy Debugging… xxiii


    Part I: Advent of the Citizen Engineer 1


    Chapter 1: “Citizen Engineer” Defined 5

    Responsibilities of the Citizen Engineer 7

    Knowledge Base of the Citizen Engineer 8


    Chapter 2: How Engineering Got Its Paradigm Shifted 13

    Changes in the Nature of Engineering 13

    Engineering on a Whole New Scale 13

    Externally Driven Changes in Engineering 19

    Perspectives on an Engineering Transformation 24

    Part I Summary, and What's Next 25


    Part II: Environmental Responsibility 27


    Chapter 3: Environmental Impact: The Big Picture 31

    Eco-Responsible Engineering: An Enormous

    Opportunity 32

    Core Challenges of Eco-Engineering 34


    Chapter 4: Beyond the Black Cloud: Looking at Lifecycles 37

    The “Cradle to Cradle” Vision 40


    Chapter 5: A Pragmatic Approach to Lifecycle Analysis 45

    A Basic Lifecycle Model 45

    Additional Lifecycle Considerations 46

    Embodied Energy and Embodied Carbon 52

    Starting a Top-Level Assessment 56


    Chapter 6: Setting Priorities, Requirements, and Goals 61

    Knowing the Law 62

    Business Requirements and Opportunities 64

    Areas of Greatest Impact 65

    Quick Wins and Low-Hanging Fruit 66


    Chapter 7: Energy and Emissions 69

    Common Sources of Energy 70

    Calculating Energy and Power 73

    Energy Impacts: Finding the Cleanest Source of Power 75

    Energy and GHG Emissions 76

    Putting a Value on Carbon (Dioxide!) 80

    Heat, Noise, Light, and Radio Emissions 81

    Process-Related GHG Emissions 82

    Energy Efficiency in Product Design 83

    An Example: Energy Efficiency in Data Centers 86


    Chapter 8: Chemicals, Materials, and Waste 93

    Chemistry and the Law 93

    Packaging and Documentation 96

    Waste and Renewal 98


    Chapter 9: Water and Other Natural Resources 105

    Social Considerations 105

    Business Considerations 106

    Calculating the Water Footprint 106

    Trading Virtual Water 107

    Other Natural Resources 108


    Chapter 10: An Example of Eco-Engineering: Interface, Inc. 111

    An Aggressive Initiative with Very Specific Goals 111

    Chapter 11 Eco-Engineering: The Grass Is Always Greener 117

    Carbon Neutrality: Good Start but Not Enough 117

    Greenwashing and Green Noise 120

    Measuring and Sharing with OpenEco 123

    Part II Summary, and What's Next 125


    Part III: Intellectual Responsibility 127


    Chapter 12 Intellectual Property Law Fundamentals 131

    IP 101: Core Concepts 131

    Patents 134

    Copyright 141

    Trademarks 147

    Trade Secrets 148

    Nondisclosure Agreements 150

    Employment Contracts and IP Ownership 151

    Tip Sheet: Inbound and Outbound IP 157

    How to Protect Your IP in Emerging Markets 159

    Back to Patent Protection: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 161


    Chapter 13: Open Source Software: Licenses and Leverage 165

    “Free” Software Licenses 166

    Nonfree but Free-Sounding Software Licenses 169

    A Closer Look at the GPL 169

    Contributor Agreements 171

    Software Indemnity 175


    Chapter 14: Creativity and Control 179

    Maximizing the Cycle of Innovation 179

    How We Got Here 181

    Control over Interfaces 184

    Innovation Commons 186

    The Economics of Open Source 187

    Beyond Software 189

    Building an Open Source Community: Practical

    Advice from a Pro 194


    Chapter 15: Protecting Digital Rights 199

    Digital Rights Management 199

    Is “Open DRM” an Oxymoron? 201

    Fair Use and Other Concepts for Reducing

    Restrictions 202

    Part III Summary, and What's Next 204


    Part IV: Bringing It to Life 205


    Chapter 16: Education of the Citizen Engineer 207

    Updating Engineering Curricula 208

    Advice for Engineering Students 211

    Advice for Engineering New Hires 212


    Chapter 17: Citizen Engineers in Action 215


    Appendix 219

    Lifecycle Phase Checklists 219

    Required Reading for Citizen Engineers 223


    Notes 225

    Photo Credits 233

    Index 235

    Back Cover

    “Engineers create many of the inventions that shape our society, and as such they play a vital role in determining how we live. This new book does an outstanding job of filling in the knowledge and perspective that engineers must have to be good citizens in areas ranging from the environment, to intellectual property, to ensuring the health of the innovation ecosystem that has done so much for modern society. This is exactly the sort of book that engineers and those who work with them should read and discuss over pizza, coffee, or some other suitable, discussion-provoking consumable.”

    -John L. Hennessy, president, Stanford University


    Citizen Engineer is the bible for the new era of socially responsible engineering. It's an era where, as the authors show, engineers don't just need to know more, they need to be more. The work is an inspiration, an exhortation, and a practical how-to guide. All engineers concerned with the impact of their work-and that should be all engineers-must read this book.”

    -Hal Abelson, professor of computer science and engineering, MIT


    “Code is law. Finally, a map to responsible law making. This accessible and brilliant book should be required of every citizen, and especially, the new citizen lawmakers we call engineers.”

    -Lawrence Lessig, director, Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University, and cofounder, Creative Commons


    Being an engineer today means being far more than an engineer. You need to consider not only the design requirements of your projects but the full impact of your work-from an ecological perspective, an intellectual property perspective, a business perspective, and a sociological perspective. And you must coordinate your efforts with many other engineers, sometimes hundreds of them. In short, we've entered an age that demands socially responsible engineering on a whole new scale: The era of the Citizen Engineer.


    This engaging and thought-provoking book, written by computer industry luminaries David Douglas and Greg Papadopoulos, focuses on two topics that are becoming vitally important in the day-to-day work of engineers: eco engineering and intellectual property (IP). Citizen Engineer also examines how and why the world of engineering has changed, and provides practical advice to help engineers of all types master the new era and start thinking like Citizen Engineers.


    David Douglas is senior vice president of cloud computing and chief sustainability officer at Sun Microsystems. He oversees the strategy and execution of environmental initiatives across the company, including enhancements to Sun's products in the areas of energy efficiency, cooling technologies, product recycling, and clean manufacturing. In addition, Dave is responsible for Sun's cloud computing business, with a focus on creating reliable, scalable, and sustainable computing and storage. He has been in the high-tech industry for more than two decades, including more than a decade of experience leading organizations to build more innovative, efficient, and eco-responsible products, and he has a long-standing passion about environmental issues. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. Dave sits on the board of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and is a senior fellow at the Breakthrough Institute. He currently lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with his family. Dave's blog can be found at



    With more than 20 years experience in the technology industry, Greg Papadopoulos has held several executive positions, most recently serving as Chief Technology Office and Executive Vice President - Research and Development at Sun Microsystems, Inc., responsible for managing Sun's technology decisions, global engineering architecture and advanced development programs.  Prior to Sun, Papadopoulos was Senior Architect at Thinking Machines and has also founded a number of his own companies.

    Papadopoulos was an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, where he conducted research in scalable systems, multi threaded/data flow processor architecture, functional and declarative languages, and fault-tolerant computing. He holds a bachelor's degree in systems science from the University of California at San Diego, as well as master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.

    Papadopoulos resides in Los Gatos, California with his wife Laurie and has passions for cooking, wine and eco-responsible living.



    John Boutelle has been a freelance writer for more than twenty years. During that time, John has worked with and interviewed hundreds of engineers and executives from a diverse range of enterprises worldwide, including Adobe, Apple, Cisco, General Electric, Hitachi, Lam Research, Nokia, Novell, Oracle, Pacific Bell, Seiko, Sony, Sun Microsystems, VeriSign, and dozens of start-ups. Previously he was editor-in-chief of the Orange County Business Journal in Santa Ana, California. He holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of arts degree from Pomona College. John resides with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

    Reader Review(s)

    “Just as the atomic bomb brought us the citizen scientist, the computer has brought us the citizen engineer. This book is for engineers who take their societal responsibilities seriously, combining the idealism of dreamers with the pragmatism of builders.”

    -Danny Hillis, cofounder, Thinking Machines, Inc., and Applied Minds, Inc.


    “In good economic times and bad, the forces driving companies to go green are getting stronger. Innovation will be the key to solving thorny environmental problems and creating lasting value for smart companies. Engineers are at the center of innovation. For businesses and the economy to experience the environmental and economic benefits of going green, we'll need engineers who read, understand, and act on the ideas in this book.”

    -Andrew Winston, author, Green to Gold


    “The authors recognize the increasingly widespread impact of engineers on society in this new century and the resulting responsibilities that engineers now have. While engineering has long embraced safety in the designs of bridges and cars, not all of us consider the long-term environmental impact of our designs, or the importance of contributing to the knowledge base of engineering and honoring its intellectual property rights, as well as preserving the security and privacy of our fellow citizens who use our designs. I believe Citizen Engineer is a book that all of us teaching, studying, or practicing engineering should read, as well as those outside engineering who want to understand this force of change in the twenty-first century.”

    -David Patterson, professor of computer science, University of California, Berkeley


    “Douglas and Papadopoulos have created an essential road map for reengineering products, services, companies, and commerce in ways that are environmentally responsible, economically profitable, and just plain


    -Joel Makower, executive editor,; author, Strategies for the Green Economy


    “This book is the first to provide detailed guidance about eco-responsible product design and responsible use of intellectual property-two areas that are becoming vitally important to both the development of the engineer and the advancement of the engineering profession.”

    -Dr. Bill Wulf, professor of engineering and applied science, University of Virginia; member, National Academy of Engineering


    “With details and examples as well as principles, this book endows every engineer with a visceral connection to eco responsibility and to the new ways to create and use intellectual property.”

    -Robert Sproull, fellow and director, Sun Labs


    Citizen Engineer explains a critical transition of the engineering profession from technical focus to include social responsibilities and business context. This shift has changed the very nature of engineering as it is practiced today and as it must be taught in engineering degree programs.”

    -Professor Steven D. Eppinger, deputy dean, MIT Sloan School of Management