On March 2, Alan Alda asked scientists to answer the question – “What is a flame?” – in a way that an 11-year-old would find intelligible and maybe even fun. By April 2, 822 entries had streamed in.
The germ for this contest came from when Alda, as a curious 11 year old, asked his teacher, “What is a flame?” Her reply, “It’s oxidation” was understandably less than inspiring to the young lad. As we all know, Alda grew up to, among many other things, entertain us for 11 years as Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H. What many people don’t know is that he grew up to also have a passion for explaining science to children.
We know there are plenty of budding engineers out there eager to learn. Often the adults they meet inspire them, but sometimes adults – with our too-large words and obtuse ways – inadvertently turn kids off. The goal of the "Define Yourself" contest is to counteract that by challenging our readers to explain engineering terms to kids in a way that conveys to them your passion for the field.
So now, we’d like to challenge you the readers of EE Life to define “Engineer.” After verifying the answers for accuracy, we’ll take the best definitions and hand them over to the student readers of Innovation Generation(EE Times's science, technology, engineering, and math education site). Our precocious bunch of budding engineers will vote on the definition that they find the most understanding and inspirational.
Enter your definition for “Engineer” into the comments field, below.
The professor looks at a glass of water and says something like "its 48.31415% full of H20". The scientist says something like "that glass is 48% full of water".
The logistics engineer says "the glass is about half full -- but in truth its about twice as big as it needs to be". And the design engineer says "if that glass contained twice as much liquid, and that liquid was beer, it would be perfect".
Engineers are people who figure out how to take intellectual ideas and turn them into real things.
Good engineers solve existing problems. Great engineers imagine problems that have yet to occur, and make sure they don't happen.
An engineer is one who solves problems, turns amazing concepts into reality, makes managers and stockholders rich, and gets laid off when the project is finished.
"Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be engineers". Better to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, politician, or cowboy. Of these, only the doctor or cowboy might find the job as rewarding and enjoyable as engineering.
Engineering is creating complex systems that are occasionally useful, so that they can have a lot of problems, so we can feel good about ourselves fixing them all often after many nights of sweat and tears.
Have to say that "An Engineer is someone who uses science and mathematics to solve problems" sums it up (the fun can be a bonus,but not necessarily required ;-)
If I had to put a qualifier on it or modify it in any way it would be to add "sometimes through trial and error" so as to set a child expectations that it is not always easy !
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.