October 30, 2013

There are thousands of people that really don’t know what engineers do on a daily basis.   Several years ago, I was working in the front yard desperately trying to get grass seed down before a Saturday afternoon rain.  A new neighbor came down the street and I moved out to welcome him to the “hood” and say hello.  During our conversation he indicated he was an accountant and asked what I did for a living.   Engineer, I replied.  “I love trains” was his comment.   No, I’m a mechanical engineer, not a train conductor.   What do you guys do, I’ve always wondered?   At this point, I went into some detail as to what differing disciplines of engineering were available to an entering university freshman.  He was blown away by the reality.   This ‘ol boy is a graduate accountant—CPA at that and he had no idea as to what the engineering profession was all about.  ( Oh by the way—he does NOT do my taxes.)

Given below are several comments made by prominent people concerning the engineering profession?  They are truly enlightening.  Take a look.

  • “Scientists investigate that which already is. Engineers create that which has never been.”

Albert Einstein

  • “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.” “Normal people … believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.”

— Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comic strip

  • “I think one problem we’ve had is that people who are smart and creative as engineers went into financial engineering.”

— Walter Isaacson, writer and biographer of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein

  • “You never see girls running after engineers.”

— Anthony Mackie, actor, on why he chose the Juilliard School over an engineering curriculum

  • “Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.”

-– James A. Michener, American author and Pulitzer Prize winner

  • “Engineer undergraduates should not be charged fees. They should receive grants, not student loans, and the government will get the money back long-term from increased exports.”  “Engineering is treated with disdain, on the whole. It’s considered to be rather boring and irrelevant, yet neither of those is true.”

— James Dyson, inventor and founder of the Dyson Co.

  • “I emphasize that virtually every engineering calculation is ultimately a failure calculation, because without a failure criterion against which to measure the calculated result, it is a meaningless number.”

-– Henry Petroski, author, and professor of civil engineering and history at Duke University

  • “You have teenagers thinking they’re going to make millions as NBA stars when that’s not realistic even for one percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is.”

— Dean Kamen, inventor, founder of First Robotics Competition, past Design News Engineer of the Year

  • “I went to engineering school, I went to physics class. I said, ‘Screw this; I don’t want to be here. I’d much rather be at a club playing music.’”

-– Huey Lewis, musician and songwriter, best known for his band, “Huey Lewis and the News

  • “The engineering is long gone in most PC companies. In the consumer electronics companies, they don’t understand the software parts of it. And so you really can’t make the products that you can make at Apple anywhere else right now.”

-– Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.

  • “A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.”

-– Freeman Dyson, British-American theoretical physicist and mathematician

  • “I was always a silent comedy nerd. I would stay up late and sneak downstairs to watch ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Kids in the Hall.’ And things like that. Very early on, my parents realized I was not going to be an engineer or a doctor. I just don’t have those inclinations at all.”

-– Mindy Kaling, actress, comedian.

  • “I was always fascinated by engineering. Maybe it was an attempt to get my father’s respect or interest, or maybe it was just a genetic love of technology, but I was always trying to build things.”

-– James Cameron, director

  • “A lot of people think in terms of people, emotions and feelings. That’s more complicated. Engineering mentality makes it, in theory, a little easier.”

— Marc Andreessen, software engineer and co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used Web browser

  • “There’s nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.”

-– Bill Nye, science educator, television host, mechanical engineer

  • “With engineering, I view this year’s failure as next year’s opportunity to try it again. Failures are not something to be avoided. You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly.”

Gordon Moore, co-founder, chairman emeritus, Intel Corp.

  • “It’s true that the original idea was mine, but what you see today is probably the work of tens of thousands of the world’s best engineers, all concentrating on improving the product, reducing the cost, things of that sort.”

-– Jack Kilby, Nobel Prize winner, co-inventor of the integrated circuit

  • “Silicon Valley has some of the smartest engineers and technology business people in the world.”

-– Elon Musk, CEO and chief product architect, Tesla Motors

  • “I worked with such concentration and focus and I had hundreds of obscure engineering or programming things in my head. I was just real exceptional in that way.”

-– Steve Wozniak, computer engineer and co-founder of Apple Inc.

  • “There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is a measure of imperfection.”

-– H.G. Wells, author of The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man.

  • “Millions of people were inspired by the Apollo Program. I was 5 years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration.”

— Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com


  • “I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer.”

–- Neil Armstrong, astronaut


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