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The sky is, literally, the limit

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re: The sky is, literally, the limit
Engineer62   7/21/2009 3:21:52 PM
I hope that the 40th anniversary will increase the desire of intelligent young people to take up engineering. They won't be doing it for the money - it barely pays the same as accounting, so there has to be be another reason... Mine was an enduring desire to build things and make them work. After 47 years that desire still holds.

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re: The sky is, literally, the limit
george.leopold   6/23/2009 6:52:01 PM
Reader Will Hayes writes:

Wanted to say that I really enjoyed your article, especially the philosophical thinking behind it. Got my mind spinning....

I also wanted to make a comment on a part of your article: "Yet young people have become so desensitized by the constant barrage of images of today that they fail to appreciate the achievements of the past." I forgot which philosopher mused it, but there was a line that always stuck with me from my philosophy studies in college that went something like this: If a baby was to witness his father fly they would think it no more miraculous than their father's ability to walk, or to provide food. The logic was simple: If we experience something at a young age and it becomes just as apart of life as walking and breathing, then we will accept it as is and move on, not really taking the time to appreciate which struggles took place, how difficult that achievement could have been, or how impossible this once may have been seen.

Today?s youth lives in, by far, the largest technology boom in history. Since Apollo's landing we have witnessed pagers, then cell phones, then smart phones and then the iPhone, and the greatest leap forward with the iPhone is the opening up of the technology and allowing the development of apps that literally change the way we do things in our everyday lives. We?ve seen televisions move from analog to 1080p, Dubai "create" land in the shape of the globe, and a sheep cloned. The only limit that seems to exist today is the limit of the imagination. And with our youth coming of age with this technology widely available, can we really blame them for not being able to relate to the landing on the moon? In their minds, how could they relate? It was a social milestone that took a huge step forward, but did it really change the life of the everyday man, and our those repercussions obvious to today?s youth? Do you relate to the irrigation advancements of the Greeks back in the time of Caesar, or Edison's creation of the light bulb, or Bell's "telephone"? Or do we simply move on and accept the advancements of the past.

The technology that made Apollo possible was by far more useful than our ability to say we've been on the moon. Did Neil Armstrong walking on the moon make it easier for me to find a restaurant within a 3-mile radius of my current location, complete with a menu and images? Did the moon rocks help me witness the Super Bowl on my 60-inch HD flat screen? Although the delivery of that image is a by product of satellites and consequentially further advancements.

While everything has served its place in the line of development, the key part of our society is that is keeps questioning what?s next by asking why not. And we should take pride that our youth takes this for granted. If they were made aware of the huge struggles to get to where we are would we not stifle creativity? If everyone knew how many times it took just to perfect the light bulb would they not see further development as nearly impossible? What keeps technology advancing is that every generation comes refreshed with an entirely new outlook, and instead of trying to relate to past struggles they push forward with new ideas, and they do not limit themselves to the sky, but the further reaches of the imagination.

Lastly, I love when you guys focus on the bigger picture because, in my opinion, what makes engineers become innovators is the ability to step back and see the "whole picture," and how technology can be applied to everyday life.

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