Rather than backing down when faced with the unknown, engineers must be willing to take on the challenge of revealing the things that are temporarily hidden, and understanding the things that are temporarily not understood. A good engineering education provides us with the principles to make sound decisions. Testing, analysis, and simulation provide us with the tools to fill in the blanks in our knowledge.
Logic is necessary, but not sufficient
The character Spock comes from a planet where logic is revered above all else. His cool and rational approach to problems makes him a popular character among engineers. Yet, in many episodes, Spock finds that this approach is not sufficient to solve certain problems. He needs to consider the emotional, human element of the situation in order to arrive at a successful solution.
Similarly, in engineering, you will find that the problems you are called on to solve are not just mechanical or electrical in nature. They are human problems. In order to solve these problems, you need to understand not only how forces balance in a structure or how electrons flow in a circuit, but how organizations function, how people make decisions, and how individuals act and interact with one another. This doesnít excuse you in the slightest from having to master the technical details. An engineer whose technical understanding is unsurpassed may still be unsuccessful if he or she doesnít also learn to master the human element.
Don't believe in the no-win scenario
In the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, we learn about the Kobiyashi Maru, a test that all Starfleet cadets are required to take. This test presents cadets with an unwinnable scenario, in order to assess their psychological response to failure. We also learn that Kirkís response to this scenario was to reprogram the test so that it was possible to win.
Like Kirk, when faced with an impossible task, good engineers donít give up. Instead, they change the conditions until the task becomes possible. This attitude is what has enabled humanity to build tall buildings, to fly, and to go to the moon. Hopefully, one day, this attitude will allow us to travel between the stars.