To the world at large, engineering is a bit of a mystery. Its practice is complex, and the people who ply the trade aren’t anxious to explain it to those who don’t.
Still, the outside world occasionally provides insight, perhaps in ways that engineers might not. Engineers sometimes step outside their stoic circles to supply a greater understanding of their profession.
Here, for the second time, we’ve collected a few of those insights. From engineers and business executives to actors and cartoonists, we present thoughts on engineering, from inside and out.
Click on the photo of Tesla CEO Elon Musk below to start the slideshow.
“The path to the CEO's office should not be through the CFO's office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.” -- Elon Musk, CEO and chief product architect, Tesla Motors (Source: revengeoftheelectriccar.com)
I've gone through most of the comments and it appears no one commented on Herbert Hoover's quote about engineering being a great profession. Here it is, 80 years later, and people still aren't listening to Hoover.
@rossloeb: Yes indeed and that is why there are so many differences in thinking. They way one sees on things is way too different from the other. That is why there are so many alternatives to cater each and everyone’s requirement.
Agreed, JMS3D printing. Ten is sufficiently precise for most engineering problems. When I first got into engineering, the older engineers used to look at the calculators of the younger engineers (who liked to carry out their calculations to three decimal places) and just shake their heads.
I like it, rossloeb. Here's a similarly funny engineering quote that we didn't use. It's from from Henry Albert Ben (maybe someone can tell me who he is): "Hell must be isothermal; for otherwise the resident engineers and physical chemists (of which there must be some) could set up a heat engine to run a refrigerator to cool off a portion of their surroundings to any desired temperature."
Yes, I agree, Chuck. Not a high percentage, but generally higher, and I think it is probably more common in other fields, too, where absolute focus on something is key. I wouldn't be surprised if some genius musicians, physicists, doctors and the like didn't also perhaps have the same inclination. It would be an interesting study!
I think there's something to it, Liz. I've known too many engineers over the years who seem to fit the mold you're talking about. It's not a high percentage of engineers, but I think the percentage is higher than what you'd see in law or journalism.
That sounds like a not-so-rare encounter with an engineer, Chuck! Social awkwardness or shyness often is a common trait of the typical engineering personality (no, not in all cases, of course). I think it's because that type of focus on problem-solving particularly in the scientifical or mathematical realm takes a lot of processing from one part of the brain, leaving other parts undeveloped.
In fact, it's not unsuprising there is a link between Asberger's Syndrome and engineers. In fact, there was a journalism article once exploring the incidence of Asberger's in Silicon Valley and the high potential for engineers who meet at work and marry to have autistic children or children with the syndrome. It was controversial, but there is also medical backing to these claims.
The thing is, people with Asberger's may have difficulty forming social or emotional bonds but then it means they really excel at something in particular--engineering, for instance. There also is a very talented surfer named Clay Marzo who famously has Asbergers and does a lot of volunteer work with people with this disease and autism. It's his syndrome that makes him such a talented athlete--he has that single-minded focus. So these parallels are quite interesting to look at.
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.