When we were putting together the cover feature for the January issue (“Closing the Skills Gap), our research told us that this was a hot topic for our readers, their employers and the industry in general. However, we had no idea that it would strike such an emotional chord. Several readers responded to our call to share stories about how they became interested in engineering and there were some very common themes, namely: Dad, science fiction and cars. Excerpts from some messages appear below.
Marc Moschetto, email@example.com
A wonderful profession
Engineering is a wonderful profession, despite its kind of lower position in the food chain. During my entire career, I have never been bored, nor I ever waited for things to get done by themselves, hardly ever earned enough to compensate my efforts but almost never complained. When there was not much to do, I was writing ideas for design (some got published).
Certainly, there are challenges ahead and adjustments in all technical professions due to this accelerated cycles and global economy. However, I strongly believe that once the engineer social level will become more realistic (commensurate with responsibility) the best and brightest will become again interested in it. All we need is to keep the spirit up.
B. Morariu – West Vancouver, BC
Science fiction paved the way
I can attribute my interest in Engineering to two factors: My father and the “Golden Age” of science fiction. First, my father. He was a man who appeared to be able to do anything. He needed a house, he designed and built it. His car needed an overhaul, he did it. He was the type who studied up on something he was about to undertake and then, armed with that knowledge, had the native savvy to make it work. Part of his drive to do it himself was economic necessity. In a way, he was like many farmers of the time who had to adopt the same strategy to survive.
When I was in Engineering school (1960 – 1968) I noticed that many of my classmates were farmer’s sons. Perhaps the decline in Engineering enrollment was due in part to the decline in farms and sons of farmers. The “Golden Age” of science fiction was largely written by technicians, engineers and scientists. The writers with little formal technical background were also well versed on the knowledge required to make a believable story. Many of the stories were set in the not-so-distant future. If a boy thought about it, he would think that he would see such things in his own lifetime. The characters were often technical people and were depicted accurately as engineers and scientists were, are, and probably always will be.
So, the excitement of possibly being a part of all that I read, combined with the confidence instilled by my father’s example that nothing was impossible, guided me to engineering as a career. It has been an interesting and rewarding path to follow. The advance of technology has taken some very unexpected turns along the way, but that just added zest to the challenge. the only question I have is: What happened to the flying cars?
J. Schott – Pittsburgh, PA
The Edison Twins
I remember a TV program, The Edison Twins [1982-86], made science more interesting! Riptide was another that made my interest in robotics and automation grow. There should be more of these programs on non pay channels. We are well into 2000 and you would expect more in the form of clubs and technological tv programs showing the amazing advances of our world.
D. Smith – Port Elizabeth, South Africa
I would have to say…my Dad inspired me to get into engineering. As a late-20th Century daddy’s girl, I wanted to be like my dad. I went through the astronaut and architect phase, but ultimately ended up in Electrical Engineering/Design via an OJT route — just like him. It was just about how cool design/manufacturing seemed, and wanting to be just like him. I am starting what I hope to be a long career at Siemens. How cool (almost surreal) it is…to look down and see your name in the ENG block.
A. Jones – Dallas, TX