Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the February 2016 edition of ECN magazine.
We’ve been busy collecting stories for our 2016 “Year of the Engineer” and there are some great tales out there. I’ve decided to publish our first story right here in my editor’s note and you’ll start to see them online soon!
Our first story comes from Industrial Engineer, Tamara Wilhite.
It reads, “My husband and I are both engineers. My ten year old son wants to be an engineer, though our daughter does not. We discussed your article. My son wanted to be a “designer” by age 6, his word for an inventor. He wanted to make stuff that did cool stuff, and he converted to “engineer” once told that that was the job category to do what he wanted to do.
My husband wanted to be an engineer because he wanted to turn dreams into reality, create things to make the world a better place.
I was converted by older science fiction novels. I’ve heard stories of book covers showing a great, glorious future and optimistic outlook—if only we had engineers and scientists to create that world. Or a book or Asimov magazine cover described as the one that launched a thousand engineering careers. To some degree, we need to wonder if all the dystopian science fiction like climate literature is turning people off to science and technology, in addition to engendering pessimism about the future.
There is also something to be said of the creeping in of liberal arts and creative arts into STEM. I have taken both my son’s and daughter’s troops to engineering day at the local college, but I’ve seen events morph into STEAM, throwing art in there. Cavemen had art, but they didn’t have running water, electricity, labor saving devices that freed women from housework so they could work outside the home … engineers built that. And the people who make it pretty are not as important as the people who make it
work, though the artists get more kudos in our civilization than the ones actually building and maintaining it (the latter being something Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs brings up often).
Our daughter is interested in audiovisual editing, accounting and a few other topics, the artistic recessive gene expressed in the family. But I know where she gets it, because I write science
fiction as a hobby. I hope my children inherit an even better world than the one we live in, and despite all the emphasis on social justice and micro-aggressions, there are still around two billion people
without regular electricity, safe running water, sewer/waste disposal.
We need cheaper power for all, safer manufacturing processes and better service delivery of essentials like education and healthcare, whether via an internet or matter-net of drones is to be determined. But we still need engineers to create that better world for the bottom billions, and focusing people on real world problems we CAN solve will make the world a better place AND encourage many to take up shovels and 3D drafting tools to get us there instead of agitating over little things those sitting in the cold,
dark slums know to be luxuries.”
Want to share your story? Email me at Kasey.email@example.com.
***Editor’s Note: To Celebrate Engineer’s Week (Feb 22-26) ECN will be publishing one engineer’s story per day and starting a new weekly section called “I Became An Engineer”.***