During National Engineers Week, I took time out for a gut check. I asked myself, "What are we? What do we do?"
A fairly common definition of an engineer is "a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics, and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems." National Engineers Week is about raising the awareness of engineers and engineering, and yet this is the definition people see? We must do better!
What skills do we need to work on any given single project? What hats might we wear? At any point in solving that problem, we are:
- a mathematician;
- a drafter, creating the documents that will be used to create the solution;
- an optimizer, fine-tuning the solution;
- a writer, creating the user manual;
- a salesman, convincing customers your solution is worth buying;
- an inspector, making sure the solution matches the idea that sprang from your head;
- an accountant, keeping track of the costs of the solution to stay inside the budget;
- a librarian, collecting and organizing the component and material documentation that comprises your solution;
- and a detective, tracking down the loose wire or the short circuit.