ENGINEERS...what we think...

5:54 AM / Posted by aku_joji /

·         When I was young and impressionable, people told me how great it is being an engineer. They told me I can build things that make lives easier for so many people, make our nation proud and what not. Suffice to say that was enough brainwashing material for me to be tricked into becoming an Engineer. Little did I know that being an engineer is such a miserable thing to do with your life.

·         Take that laser show  for example. When everyone around was enjoying the more-real-than-real images , I was left wondering how can they project 3D images on water mist using Lasers. Then there was this magic show where the magician was yanking bright balls from nowhere and the crowd was applauding. Of course, I was wondering what sort material can make balls that can be compressed to a small size then be popped up.In the end I was a more educated man knowing how to project laser beams and that you can compress sponge to real small sizes. But I missed all the fun. I missed the moments to marvel at something just because I was trained to 'find out how it works'.

·         We engineers are like that. We cant move on without wondering (and finding out) how does the damn thing work. I have been in all those situations a normal person will never be in. Like trying to look underneath an aircraft toilet just to find out how does the vacuum flush work. And yeah, I took great joy in repeatedly flushing and listening to the 'whoosh'. (This is surely not bad considering that the average passenger flushes less than once per use of toilet).

·         We also spend a significant of time worrying about alternatives. The whole life for us engineers consists of blocks of things and methods, where each block can have any number of alternatives. We wonder whether to buy a diesel car or a petrol one. We worry if we should travel during the night or day. I once wondered if we could 'blow' and candle out, why cant we 'suck' the candle in? I learnt that it is very much possible, at the cost of severely burnt lips!
·         Related to above point, we want to think before spending. Its not about money really. Its about optimising the use of it. This is good when you are buying alloys to build an aircraft but most of us engineers cant take it out of our brains even when we are buying grocery. We wonder if it is worth all the money spent on petrol to go to the discount shop. To put it in 'engineerese' every buying decision is a multi-variant optimisation problem.


·         Another significant part of our useful life goes into reading the manual for things that we buy and doing exactly the same things the manual warns us against. No engineer got a gadget that has enough features and we always feel the need to tweak the turn the knobs that are beyond access to the lesser mortals. That is another few thousands lost on void warranties, chipped nails and cut fingers.

·         And we are the kind that assume everyone is equally geeky. I have heard of instances where engineers were hit with saucepans and other assorted kitchen equipment for being too geeky at home. We always use a language that takes a higher degree in engineering to understand and we feel proud about it. I presume most readers of this post will be engineers.
     
So what I am saying is my Engineering education robbed us off a lot of pleasurable moments in life and we are wasting a lot of time doing things that are no fun just because we have been programed to do those things by our education.
·         But then, there is a brighter side for everything you see. You don't have to worry about what to gift us for our birthdays. A good screwdriver kit is always appreciated!
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