When I attend engineering trade shows or conferences, I ask people about their engineering jobs. One day a couple of years ago, a young engineer responded, “I design roller coasters.” Wow! I asked if that had been a childhood dream. He responded that it was the only job he ever wanted and he set out to make it happen by choosing the right schools and meeting the right people.
I’ve had similar conversations with engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and with engineers at NASA’s suppliers. Most recently I spoke with one of the engineers involved in the design and development of the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter. I asked if working on space vehicles was a childhood dream. His answer was similar to the roller coaster engineer: “It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
This summer many of us will be out at the parks riding on the coasters. Remember that the engineer who designed the contraption is living out a great engineering dream.
Rob Spiegel has covered manufacturing for 22 years, 19 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include automation, supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cybersecurity. For 10 years, he was the owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.