Innovation Through the Engineering Mindset

The word “engineer” in the Google dictionary refers to “a person who designs, builds, or maintains engines, machines, or public works.” Most people tend to think that an engineer is someone who designs, builds, and operates machinery, or more recently, computers. Hence, we have careers labeled as computer engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, and so on.

Engineers of course use their career training and education to complete their job. But there is another important trait amongst all engineers— technical skill.

“Technical skill,” as I define it, is not knowing all the syntax of a programming language, nor is it memorizing every possible bit on a screwdriver, despite the usefulness of such knowledge; it is rather one’s own intuition, their problem-solving skills, or in rudimentary terms, “being able to figure it out” or “the drive to pursue the end goal.” It’s the inductive and deductive skills of one to be able to figure out how to solve an issue without thorough directions.

From understanding why rectangular objects should be screwed in diagonally first, to formulating even just the behavior concepts of an AI in a video game, to even something so simple as finding WIFI and turning off your unnecessary Bluetooth signal while lowering your brightness to save your precious battery life— everyone possess technical skill no matter their career or lifestyle.

With that same mindset, doesn’t every profession have engineer-like aspects? Don’t surgeons need both the education and knowledge, but also the precision and thought process as they operate on their patients?

And therefore I ask— can’t other people such as doctors be called medical engineers, chemists chemical engineers, and stock traders economic engineers?

Besides the obvious fact that “chemists” are shorter and more effective for a “chemical engineer,” I do believe that everyone in their own way is an engineer at what they do.

I bring this up because we should recognize our own engineering skills in our passions to make the world better and more innovative. We need those who can think technically about stem-cells to beat cancer, and those who can think technically about social conflicts to evade problems through diplomacy.

And we need to bring out that “engineer” within us, to innovate the world. No matter the career or lifestyle we shall live, we need our own individual technical, inductive, and deductive skills so that we may enjoy our passions to the fullest, and use that enjoyment to positively influence those around us. We need the engineering capabilities of medical professionals with mechanical experts to create the most advanced prosthetic limbs, and the intuitively of energy experts with the knowledge of environmental professionals. By combining complex knowledge along with technical skill and ingenuity, we open our minds to a broader spectrum of solving problems, leading to the innovations in our world.

Just as one could say that the “world needs more engineers in a high-tech 21st century,” I believe that the world needs more engineers in every profession in a career-bound 21st century.

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