I always wanted to work with electronics and robots as far back as I remember -- less so with computers because they weren't readily available when I was a young lad (although they later grew to be one of the loves of my life).
When I was poised to graduate from high school, I was torn between going to art college or an engineering course at the university. My mom said that I could always do art as a hobby, and that very few artists earned a decent living at it, but that engineering would give me a good enough living that I could afford to do art as a hobby. She was right as always (dammit :-)
For me I had way too much integrity to become a lawyer or a politician and I didn't like disecting animals in science class so being a doctor was out.
I wasn't musical at all so I couldn't carry a tune.
I Couldn't draw due to a hand injury at 1 year old so being an artist was not an option.
I did however have no problem disecting radios and modifying them to operate in bands that they weren't designed for along with building radios from scratch and designing my own antennas which led to Amateur Radio at a very early age.
@mike_m: I did however have no problem disecting radios...
I remember that when I was real young -- like 7 or 8 maybe -- my dad would brong back "stuff" from his work -- old bits of equipment that had failed and were going to chucked out -- they were mostly mechanical in nature involving lots of nuts and bolts and bits of metal -- I used to love taking them to bits (sometimes 50 or more components) and then re-assembling them (I was easily amused :-)
To make things more complex for a lot of people, please take a look at this movie. For me it was a real eye-opener. I think today *this* is the problem: Pease was right with his education opinion. It is bad to try and shape us all the same way.
As a very very slow starter I would not talk until I was 7. My parents really were not happy the way I developed myself in my younger years. I did not fit in the school system. The movie for me was *enormously* recognizable, I was different. This lucky bastard has parents who recognized that the best thing to do is give me some freedom and to let myself develop in the things I was good at. Take a guess what that was ;-)
Anyway, take a good look at the movie and let me know how you think about it. In the mean time I think of a solution, but that's very very hard to find...
Thanks for the video, I love the animation and message, not sure how we can fix the problem though. Would require a lot of thought and experimentation to come up with the right model, I guess that is why we have pilot schools, to try something new and different. Glad your parents had the foresight to let you learn, not many do in the competiveness we have generated in our educational system today.
I think because I was a girl, I was not as encoraged when I was young to disassembling things. Fortunately I had a younger brother who was really good at dissasembly but not so good at reassembling so I got to help him put things back together. Sometimes they even sort of worked... It's interesting that we both became engineers.
In my case, I was good at math and science in high school so I thought that one of those would be my major in college. At that time I didn't know anything about engineering but I was interviewed for a scholorship by one of the engineering professors who encouraged me to check it out. When I discovered that it was engineers who got to create new things, I was hooked.
Engineering has been the best possible fit for me. I have to say that I really don't want to do anything else. My biggest problem is that there aren't enough hours in the day to explore all the ideas I have.
Our work changes the world. I am in E1 clock sync box that has allowed large parts of the world to communicate. I am in the first telecomm tunable laser for optical communications systems. I am in the testers for Seagate drives.
Hopefully, the stuff we make changes the world by improving lives. Can tech be mis-used? Yes - look at the NSA wiretapping.
Just making money is a greedy endevor. Using money to improve lives is good. Never thought I would praise Uncle Billy, but he is using money to eliminate desieses (sp). Soros is using his for good.
A good example is medical devices - they can be used to save lives.
Helping clean up water that the greedy $%^& have trashed (and which the cops should be arresting them for environmental crimes).
I could go on, but that should suffice.
(Can the wizzards behind the scenes of automatically turn on spelling checks for comment blocks?)
My undergraduate university has for years stressed the link between technology and society, so much that you are required to complate a year-long project in that area. Mine (1970s) was to develip teaching aids to help elementary school teachers teach the metric system. We developed seminare and gave them at local schools. Unfortunately, all we have to show for that effort is the 2 liter bottle of soda.
*Now* we know who to blame .... *and* for the Mars explorer mismatch of units :^)
Not every project is going to change the world. I have been fortunate to have three. But - to be honest - my two primary reasons on the projects were to feed my family and work on something interesting.
But, yes, every good engineer I know wants to change the world for the better. A few even know and get lucky enough to make some serious money.
My opinion: the difference between the greedy $%^& and an engineer that hits it big: the greedy just want more. The rich engineers I know see money as a tool. Perhaps I am just idealistic.
You are being an idealistic @mr-bandit despite your nickname
(A bandit is "one who is proscribed or outlawed; hence, a lawless desperate marauder, a brigand: usually applied to members of the organized gangs which infest the mountainous districts of Italy, Sicily, Spain, Greece, and Turkey.")
most engineers I know want more if they can get it
I feel ya, MeasurementBlues! I believe the trade-off from the older English units to the metric system could have been taught much more easily and perhaps successfully had the units been presented as a rational system with a human scale. There isn't really much about the traditional system that is rational, e.g., there are 12 inches in a foot and three feet in a yard, and so on. But, we still relate to them as being to human scale: at one time, the adult male's foot was about a foot long, and inch was about the length of one's thumb from tip to the first knuckle, etc.
I think educators missed that particular boat here in the USA. Nevertheless, engineers now work more and more in the metric systems, and many times the responsibility rests with us to "translate" for American craftsmen. Of what use is a "1.3 ft" dimension, for example? How many inches and 16ths of an inch is ".3 ft," anyway?
Engineering is a great field to work in. There is a shortage of engineers (all science areas as a matter of fact) for many reasons. I don't possess adequate space to list all of them here. One thing for sure, many people really are unaware of what career options are avaiable for engineers. There are so many outstanding pathways available today for future engineers. For example, a student can earn an A.S. degree in Engineering and transfer all of that program college credits to a four year college. Wow! That option was not available a few years ago. And the price of going to a community college is more affordable. I strongly think that the engineering community has to take a lead to get the word out about career options available in the area of engineering. Yes, it would be great if a few enigneering companies came together and purchase a TV spot to showcase enginnering careers. Something to think about.
Engineering is a great field to work in. There is a shortage of engineers (all science areas as a matter of fact) for many reasons. I don't possess adequate space to list all of them here. One thing for sure, many people really are unaware of what career options are available for engineers. There are so many outstanding pathways available today for future engineers. For example, a student can earn an A.S. degree in Engineering and transfer all of that program college credits to a four year college. Wow! That option was not available a few years ago. And the price of going to a community college is more affordable. I strongly think that the engineering community has to take a lead to get the word out about career options available in the area of engineering. Yes, it would be great if a few engineering companies came together and purchase a TV spot to showcase engineering careers. Something to think about.
krisi wrote: well, by this logic we can not trust anything... everything comes from managements, politicians, generals, religious leaders, etc
The short answer is "follow your instincts" and "follow the money". If a claim doesn't seem to add up, it's probably misinformation. If the claim would enrich the person or organization making the claim, you can pretty well bet that it's beyond misinformation.
good point @betajet...i like "follow the money", that is usually very informative...as Adler said "follow the movement" (the idea being that you should disregard what someone is saying but look at his actions instead)
I didn't think I had the grades to get into medicine. I thought that law and business where uninteresting and elitist. So I chose the next hardest program: Applied sciences -> Electrical Engineering. I thought the math would be challenging.
An interesting career trajectory to be sure, but not overlylucrative.
I think engineering can be a lucrative field. It is not necessarily why we go into it, but if you have some entreprenuer mentallity along with engineering background you can do very well. I have helped start and sell companies and it can be very rewarding both financially and emotionally. The profession has served me well, after learning to value the work and ideas. Living here in Silicon Valley can change the mindset of how you look at engineering and the value chain. There have been many engineers that have joined the ranks of the millionare club and will continue to be, but it does involve both luck and the right mindset.
The vehicles to start and stop companies are not always avaialble nor financially viable, but new funding engines like Kickstarter are openning up the field to more engineers and other creative individuals. Other than that it is a fairly high paying and stable profession with the adding perk of being rewarding from a professional standing.
According to statistics the professions with the greatest amount of millionares is as follows:
1. Managers with 17% probably not surprising, as that is a broad ranging title.
2. Educators: who would have known
3. Financiers: no surprise here, Wall street anyone.
6. Software entrepreneurs
7. Movie Actors
10. Airline pilots
If you consider that a fair percentage of managers may also be engineers I think we do fairly well on the list, but then again this doesn't take into account the number of people in each of these professions. I certainly think as a percentage of those in the profession, that are in this club, as you said doctors and lawyers would come out much higher.
Why do we become engineers? I would say likely a troubled childhood, being poor, and early exposure to several problems that need "fixed" (several meanings) to make life better. Then being cursed by creativity and curiosity helps. The spiral downward started In First grade, I had already drawn an automobile piston that would clean up pollution (1969) that was very impractical. In Second grade, a cut away view of space helmet with a rebreather system inside. In Third grade, I was drawing reel tape storage/computers in my lunar walker's legs (1972). In Jr. High, I "designed", hard shell space suits, tried to block diagram an AI (late 1970's). In high school (early 80's), I was drafting, nuclear subs, nuclear tanks, nuclear cities, nuclear this, and nuclear that. Closed cycle recycling systems both ecological and rebreathers for space stations, space capsules, space shuttle experiments (sent one to a NASA HS competition), biological batteries (this worked), solid fueled rockets (from scratch, some worked, some hard starts), prosthetic limbs , computer language recognition and a lot of other garbage I can't remember. Then I fell in with a bad bunch of people in HS when I took math, drafting, and programming classes. I was so full of it (AKA ideas) and after high school I thought I should learn something to make my ideas obtainable so I went to a few engineering schools and held several jobs in engineering. This career path quickly cured me of the curiosity and creativity bug. It seems that finding the "best" solutions to problems that others have deliberately made or find profitable in their present state is a skill not in great demand and can be very unprofitable for engineers. If I had listened to my teachers in elementary to high school and stopped drawing "those pictures" during class, I could have spent a lot more time playing and socializing with people, instead of now sitting in a sparse office alone for years designing embedded hardware and software "solving" other people's problems caused by other people's problems without the means or the time. I would talk about the pay, lack of benefits, and only one paid vacation in 2008, but I do not want to depress the nubees or cast a disparaging light on high tech engineering. Instead, I will talk of the good times. Like, once in a while something will work as expected; you'll get paid, and then you are rewarded a nice long unpaid vacation (i.e. unemployment, consulting, startup) until you are needed to fix another "problem". So why do we become engineers?