Engineers Are Boring… not!

Post from Jean Thilmany:

I had a sit-down with my groovy accountant the other day. (The place doubles as an art gallery.) The tax news was okay. So then we got chatting. Alyssa asked me exactly what I did over at ASME.

I launched into my set piece: We write for a wide audience, so it’s not close-up engineering speak. Instead, it’s cool articles of interest to mechanical engineers doing varied jobs. Like I just finished one on how 3-D printing, CAD, and reverse engineering can be teamed to recreate treasures from the past—in three dimensions. And right now I’m piecing together an article on the ergonomics of website design. Then I’m going to interview an artist whose techno-kinetic sculptures demonstrate the thermal principles of ocean waves. And then… She cut me off!

“I understand. I’m a geek too. I love taxes.” That shut me up.

In real life, I’m not an engineer. But writing and talking to them about their work for the past decade or so has given me profound respect. I bristle at the stereotypes. I haven’t found them true in the least.

Still, it’s the way some people—maybe even many people—identify engineers: logical, analytical, noncreative.

And those stereotypes may even inhibit some kids from studying engineering. Take this example. Google reps went to Los Altos high school in California last March to dispel engineering myths. Granted, the reps are soliciting future computer engineers. But the engineering stereotype crosses all disciplines and can be hard to fight.

At Mechanical Engineer we celebrate the creative side of engineering. I loved writing about cell phone apps that measure air quality and the printing of artificial blood vessels. I find that engineers have found a way to meld art and science in their work. I also believe that they’re creative visionaries in a way that some more traditionally creative types need to take seriously and to understand further.

16 Responses to “Engineers Are Boring… not!”

  1. April 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more! In my career I’ve worked with electrical engineers and chemical engineers and I find them to be some of the most creative people. Think of the things they cook up! They maybe a little more focused and introspective in some cases, but certainly not boring if you take the time to get to know them.

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The Editor

John G. Falcioni is Editor-in-Chief of Mechanical Engineering magazine, the flagship publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

April 2012

Twitter from John Falcioni

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