Are You an Engineer or Just an Engineering Graduate?

What is the true essence of being an “engineer”?


Are you really an engineer?

Anyone can take up Engineering, but not everyone has what it takes to become an “engineer”. Sure, one can pass all his subjects, graduate, get certified and attain a title, but there is more to being an engineer than just fulfilling mundanities. Like what I said in a previous article, being an engineer is nothing short of super heroic, thus it comes with great responsibilities and immense challenges. With people looking up to engineers to provide convincing answers to the world’s most confounding questions, the onus is theirs to prove themselves worthy of such trust, regard and, if you will, reverence.

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Engineers should make an impact to society

Engineers are individuals endowed with the ability to understand the world through a different prism. They discern the mathematical and scientific basis of everything around them, and are thus able to analyze their surroundings through quantitative analysis.

Engineers should apply this knowledge and skill to create a positive impact that will benefit the people of today and of generations to come. Formed by years of study, research and experience, real engineers should have the ability to solve the world’s most critical problems, be they in energy, environment, technology, transportation, infrastructure, healthcare or food, to name a few. Engineers should seek to create a better world for everyone. While professionals from other fields strive to understand and define what is, engineers breathe life to what ifs.

For instance, biomedical engineers should spearhead the manufacture of medicines for the world’s deadliest diseases, like Cancers and AIDS. Mechanical engineers should invent machines that do not only operate with unparalleled efficiency, but are also respectful to the environment. Civil engineers should build more roads and infrastructure that will connect remote areas to economic and social centers. Electrical engineers should install power plants that will provide reliable electricity to communities with limited access to usable energy. Computer engineers should continue to create programs and applications that will integrate everyday activities and thus simplify the lives of millions of people.

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Engineers should think outside the box. What box?

Engineers should ever be creative and inquisitive. Engineers should be able to transcend their comfort zones and venture out of the ordinary in search of the best solutions to the world’s grandest concerns. Engineers should always look to outdo themselves, and should never rest on their laurels.

Imagine, had Apple, Samsung, LG or Sony engineers simply replicated the 5110, will we ever have today’s top-spec smartphones that have greatly contributed to our productivity? Had Airbus or Boeing engineers stopped improving aircraft, will we ever enjoy the comfort and safety of air travel that we have today? Had biomedical engineers gave up on finding a cure for deadly diseases, perhaps tuberculosis or malaria are still death sentences to anyone afflicted.

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Engineers should remain steadfast

The tasks at hand are enormous, so the profession is not for those looking for a stroll in the park. Engineers should have the heart of a lion and the resilience of a bamboo. Engineers will surely fail, and not once or twice, but many times over in their careers. There will be times when engineers will need to go back to square-one just when the end is within arm’s reach. There will be designs that will look good on paper and perform extremely well on simulations, just to flop on the prototype stage. There will buildings, bridges or roads that cannot be constructed as designed, due to various constraints.

Engineers should not be fazed by such setbacks. Engineers should find the strength to march on and assume responsibility for their decisions and actions. They must always bear in mind the reason why chose to pursue the field in the beginning. They must always be proud of their chosen profession, and maintain their commitment to their avowed mission.

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At the core of the engineering profession should be a genuine regard for the well-being of others, an insatiable hunger for innovation and an unwavering dedication to the field. It would be impossible to define what makes an engineer in a short feature such as this, given its different facets, the complexity of character and varying definitions. However, I hope that I have drawn a visible line between a real engineer and a mere engineering graduate. So now, I give the floor to you, my readers. What do you think makes an engineer?

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