Taking the red pill: The beauty of engineering

Hi Guys,

So last week we talked about taking the blue pill and the consequences of quitting engineering (the act of leaving the profession permanently). However, many die-hard engineers said we didn’t do justice to their side of the story, especially some of the members at RigBasket. This week, we will let them justify why you should seriously consider taking the red pill instead to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. They will walk you through their take on the “engineering journey”. Handing it over to the technology team:

Let’s start with how one discovers he/she is an engineer:

Many engineers discover their passion for the field early on in their lives, usually after watching cartoons that seem to defy the laws of physics or having toys that can create anything imaginable. For example, a friend of mine admits to rebuilding Transformers and Voltron characters using legos, and at the age of 8, attempting to build a “flying yacht”. You could say he was a bit destined to be an engineer with that type of passion.

Coming back to point, as engineers move forward with their lives they realize that their love for creating things is what people call ‘engineering’. These people usually don’t like following simple instructions by nature, enjoy trying new things, testing, and seeing what they can change in the world.

How engineering changes your personality overtime:

So one of our team members┬áconsiders himself a lifelong introvert. However, he claims engineering school changed his personality completely. He says his course load drove him insane, but he shared that craziness with a host of other people, and that is what brought them together. Engineers are a clique who understand each other, spend sleepless nights in labs, eat late night pizza dinners and ask awkward professors to help them get closer. Many liberal arts and business students are amazed at the stuff created by engineers and even consider them ‘cool’ sometimes.

Life as an engineer is not the easiest. You’re constantly challenged throughout your academic and professional life, failing countless times. However, that is where your true strength lies. You learn resilience and have the ability to not only learn from failures but use them as a mechanism to propel yourself to success.They are the ones bold enough to solve the world’s toughest problems.

Comparing life before and after engineering:

Let’s look at one of our co-founders. Prior to Penn Engineering, he came from a rote-learning system. He used to explain his struggles initially in the new system that pushed critical thinking. At Penn he had to figure stuff out independently. That’s where he developed his skills,by learning that their maybe more than one path from point A to B. Prior to engineering, he felt limited in his capacity. However, after engineering, he now believes no problem is unsolvable and conjures up some solutions you can’t even Google. Of course, not all of them are still feasible.

Doing engineering vs doing liberal arts/business?

One of my former colleagues has a background in both undergraduate engineering and economics. He claims that engineering teaches you how to create stuff, but where it lacks is with the understanding of market demand and supply. That’s where economics comes in and gives you the intuition to understand how to adjust your product to market behavior. That’s not something hard to learn, but most engineers lack this exposure. They’ll build super cool gadgets, but not be able to sell it because their is no market demand. Many engineers design revolutionary technologies only to stumble with market validation.

The good news however, is that this isn’t hard to learn. As engineers, they can pick up the business side of things pretty quick simply by learning from our failures and trying different methods. The marriage of engineering and economics/business is what gives you true power to create a product that is fit for the market. Case in point: Elon Musk.

The gains:

Well that depends on the person. If you’re looking for a job then you’ll probably earn a pretty decent salary without ridiculous work hours. That’s not where the fun lies though. Many of you who want to become entrepreneurs will realize the importance of a tech founder and that is where an engineer’s skill set is imperative. In today’s world almost every new or existing company is heavily reliant on technology, and engineers by nature are taught to use technology to it’s maximum potential. We can learn how to code, design and manufacture no matter what our background simply because we are taught to go figure things out on our own and explore all possible opportunities to learn.

How you know engineering is your calling?

If you got excited at the opportunity to create the tallest tower possible using a bunch of spaghetti sticks and tape, with the goal of having it withstand the weight of a golf ball, then engineering-related professions are your calling. Unsurprisingly, engineers, architects and kindergartners are the best at solving this task. Why? Because when things go wrong they look for alternative creative solutions immediately, and are willing to take risks. Their minds are always thinking (sometimes overthinking) about different solution. This Youtube video summarizes this exercise perfectly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0_yKBitO8M

Undefined challenges excite engineers, no instructions just an end goal and some tools to achieve it. They look for alternative routes to achieve their goals. Trying, failing and then trying again to achieve what used to be science fiction. Look at the invention of augmented reality. Who could’ve thought we would have to confiscate our founder’s phone for his new found Pokemon Go obsession.

Growing up, transformers were science fiction. Now, we can make robots that can actually take on multiple forms. We have those capabilities at RigBasket.

Engineering is for those dreamers who want to create science fact from science fiction. For all of those wondering if engineering has practical use, let’s not forget that airplanes, robots, submarines were all science fiction before engineers decided to challenge the status quo and make them a reality. Engineering dares people to dream big and gives them the tools to fulfill their dreams. Now some dreams are harder to accomplish than others and the solutions aren’t quite obvious at the start. Colonizing Mars will definitely not be an easy task, but engineering makes it theoretically possible.

The goal of engineering is to solve complex problems using available tools. If the tools aren’t available, new tools must be created to fulfill needs. Engineering makes dreams a reality.

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