Charles I totally agree that engineers like to solve problems and there is no doubt that if something is working smoothely they will definitely think why is it working this way is there any issue that nothing is wrong or everything is wrong that it is working properly . This is basically the mind set of engineers to dig down the problems and issues .
Bear in mind that most engineers do not understand the mathematics or physics required to produce breakthroughs in science such as E=Mc2
Nor should they be expected to. Their job is to take new information, be it a physics breakthrough, a more efficient power amplifier approach, new advancements in materials science, and incorporate them into product designs which provide advantages to the customers and markets in question.
My instinct says that the mathematicians and physicists who do basic research may be among the poorest choices to design product "updates" or to apply practicality to new products designed to optimally solve real world requirements given price, size, etc, restraints.
An engineering education teaches you what you technically do not know. If you feel some new development may have an application in an "upgrade" or "new thing" you are working on, go sit with the gent who discovered it until you extract enough knowledge to make the judgement yourself. If you require the size of a baseball, and the research expert starts getting nervous when the size is downgraded to that of a basketball, then you have your answer. At least for your existing project.
The ignorance comes, as I suspect, from a real problem with critical thinking skills. We used to call it common sense, but alas, not so common any more. Your observation is absolutley correct. Unfortunately I have absolulely no idea how to bring back critical thinking into education. My only true idea about that is to stop shifting children into such idealized study plans and let them truly innovate on their own. Children do that automatically when left alone to experiment. They rarely get the solutions they anticipate, but they sure get the learning they need.
Letting kids just be kids, instead of the "budding offspring" we are trying to create, allows them a much better facility of using their brains to actually create. In other words, they become engineers because we don't force them to become that.
I have been a tutor for thirty years, maybe a mentor to a few of them, and I am seeing the genius within my granddaughter come alive when I let her lead me into where to go rather than forcing her to follow me. This is science happening in real-time. It is a miracle of our brains and we need to let it continue for our own benefit.
I can't prove this, TunaFish#5, but I suspect a lot of people (like my lawyer friend) don't know the difference between an engineer and a mechanic. Part of it comes from the common abuse of the word "engineer" -- as in "sanitary engineer" or "building engineer." The lines get blurred.
Today I read in Automation World Magazine a quote from the CEO of Rockwell Automation, Mr. Keith Nosbusch, saying the same thing that I have been asserting for several years, but in a slightly different context: "Real customer value is created when raw data is converted to information then into knowledge and ultimately into wisdom".
My assertion has been that raw data is of marginal value until it can be assembled into knowledge, which becomes valuable when it leads to insight and understanding.
The quote came from an article that was discussing "big data" and the potential to gain some benefit from it. My feeling is that in the string of articles in this December 2013 issue there was a great deal of "sunshine" created but not a whole lot of information presented. I am sure that a few recall the comments about "sunshine", so I won't elaborate on that.
But the important reality is that we understand that the data by itself is not a big benefit.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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.