I believe that you should do what you love and parents shouldn't select or try to force their kid(s) into a career they selected. It is hard enough some days to work in a career you selected now imagine going to one someone selected for you.
I knew a man who forced his sons to go into engineering. He made a comment that the oldest son was finally starting to like engineering. His youngest son was very unhappy in college and eventually dropped out. The father just didn't get it. I'm not sure why it was so hard for him to let his kids make their own career decisions.
Doing things like that can (and did in this case) make for a very unhappy people.
I'm not sure I understnad your first sentence, William, but I agree with your thoughts about doing something you can look forward to every morning. So I encourage my kids to find something they love. I don't necessarily believe in the chiche that "do what you love and the money will follow." But I also don't believe the successful course is to try to guess on a career that pays well.
The big advantage of being specialized is that you become obsolete as the technology changes. The challenge is to have a broad array of knowledge and skills, and then find an employer that will utilize them. I seldom, if ever, refused any task, those that went well added to my credentials, those tasks that did not go so well added to my experience and insight. I know a lot of things that won't work, and that is valuable knowledge, it really is.
But the nost important thing, I have found, is to find a position where you can like what you are doing and look forward to each day as a new chance to do enjoyable (fun) stuff. And when you do find such a position, as I did, just hope that the parent organization does not send in some ignorant neandrothal MBA to ruin everything.
When your alm mater solicuts support for their new MBA program, remind them that they have betrayed everything that is good and honorable, and gone over to the dark side, where they will get no support from you. possibly they might learn, probably, not.
Interesting point about October Sky, Rob. You've cited something that's definitely true -- many kids who appear to be naturally inclined toward engineering don't necessarily make it through the curriculum. Some who are mechanically/electrically inclined don't like the heavy emphasis on theory. Others simply get distracted, and engineering is not a good place for distracted students.
You are assuming that they even recognize that they have a problem communicating. Some people are just "out there". I don't think that they necessarily recognize their inability to communicate. They just are the way they are.
I agree that "translators" can be necessary. It takes the right kind of manager to get the most out of genius, and the right kind of person/people to "translate", and draw the person out when required.
I agree that some of the best might find it hard and against their wiring. Overall, I'm an advocate of the strengthening your strengths theory.
However, there's a world of difference between someone who wants to be able to communicate and tries to get at least a minimum skill level and someone who just expects everyone to deal with their lack of communication skills because they are an engineering genius. (I'm ignoring any discussion of the autism spectrum here. I know that can be another matter.) Sometimes "translators" may be necessary. For general advice for a new student/grad, most of whom aren't geniuses, - being able to be a translator is a plus.
Naperlou, I agree with the need to be flexible and multidisciplinary in your learning. Advice that I would give to a new student would be that a master's degree while not required definitely helps in your career. Have a master's degree when entering the job market puts you near the top of the list when getting interviews.
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Good engineering designs are those that work in the real world; bad designs are those that don’t. If we agree to set our egos aside and let the real world be our guide, we can resolve nearly any disagreement.
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.