“Why Engineering?” We Ask “Why Not?”

“Why Engineering?” We Ask “Why Not?”

Recently I was asked to prepare a 10 min talk about why I became an engineer, what I like about it, and what I do here at Key Tech.  The last two questions were easy to answer, as I’ve had to answer them many times before at different conferences and other meet-and-greet events.  However, the first, more personal question, though supposedly simple in nature, caused me to have to delve back to the beginning of my career path, the big picture of “why”, the motivation behind my choice.  This question is fascinating because it’s almost entirely subjective, which is ironic in a field which is typically viewed as wholly objective.

I asked my fellow Key Techers and got a myriad of responses.  Some of us had engineers as parents and saw their love of the field.  We were told, “Engineering is a steady career field.”  Several of us were influenced by the familiar equation that plays out early in school:  good at math + good at science = engineer

Other replies focused on things engrained in our personalities.  How many times as a kid did we take things apart just to see how they worked (and the thrill we got with the bonus challenge of putting them back together again!)?  For us at Key Tech, that curiosity lives on.  As engineers, we see that “imagination is necessary as well as scientific knowledge” (Sir William Halcrow).  We enjoy the challenges that our engineering skills meet and how great ideas spawn from experimentation.  And there’s nothing quite like the joy of building something:

“I became an engineer because I always enjoyed seeing a real-world output of my imagination.  I would imagine building a roller-coaster that I could route through my entire house as a child, but realized the next best (and more realistic option) was to create a mini roller coaster out of K’nex and mount a digital camera to the car, record video, and then play it back to see my coaster from the rider’s perspective.”


We’ve learned that engineering reveals that equations are more than just numbers and symbols: they show how the physical world works.  We’ve seen the role engineers play in the world: positively influencing people’s lives through tools and technologies that help them overcome challenges of all types throughout the globe.

Within the answers to this question is a glimpse into the cross-section of our personalities, dreams, and motivators.  Too deep for a first date?  Then be careful when you ask us the innocent, seemingly simple question, “Why engineering?”

Photo Credit: jimmyjam2K


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