By Brian Frascella A day on the job isn’t Jeopardy, folks. Sometimes answers are more gray than black and white, right or wrong. This took me a long time to figure out. I expend a large amount of energy always attempting to determine the right answer at work, regardless of the project. We, as engineers, are trained to determine the right answer. We often give our opinions. But we don’t feel comfortable, unless we are sitting beneath the warm and comfy cover of the right answer. This is especially true, when among our peers.
Well, it happened. I got stopped in the hall by an engineer who is severely smarter than I am, and I was asked my opinion on a topic. I knew my opinion, but I was tripping on my words worse than Foghorn Leghorn with a mouthful of food. I didn’t want my answer to be wrong! Finally, this engineer pulled me aside and in a stern tone stated the following: “I don’t care if you are right or wrong, but you know the product best. So, with the information that you have collected at this time, what do you think is the solution?”
He didn’t care if I was right or wrong? This was a seismic paradigm shift.
I got back to my desk, collected my thoughts and wrote up a report for the ages. It was full of opinions, but they were based on data and a conclusion that I was very confident was correct. After reading the report that I had written, I was almost sure that I had determined the correct solution. I also had the realization that a sense of doubt previously had kept me from being a more valuable asset to the team.
The next time around, I won’t hesitate due to a fear of making a mistake. When you take a chance you might be wrong, of course. But if you have data to back it, you might not be as far off as you think.
Brian Frascella graduated from Binghamton University with a BSME; he’s en route to receiving his MBA from the University at Buffalo in 2011. Despite entering engineering school with the hopes of someday designing skis, his interests later steered him toward the realm of control electronics. Brian has worked with the Moog Industrial Group in East Aurora, N.Y., in its Electric Flight Simulation product line since 2007 as a Product Engineer. Brian will be posting to Careers and Education in Engineering periodically.