Why I Want to be an Engineer

posted on 08 May 2013 | words

Term paper for a generic Intro to Engineering class.

Should I be an engineer? Surely this is a question every student wrestles with at some point. Many who ask it may decide not to become engineers. While it may be a tough decision for some, it's a given for me. I love designing, analyzing, building, and testing systems. I thrive on tough situations – there's nothing that gets my brain going quite like a malfunctioning circuit or a buggy piece of software.

I embarked on the path to becoming an engineer early in life. It began with taking things apart – as a child, I would disassemble anything I was given the chance to. At eleven, I completely disassembled the old laptop my dad had given me so I could replace a noisy fan. When I put it back together, the fan had been silenced and my laptop was lighter by a couple of screws – but it still worked!

I owe much of my inspiration in recent years to my past – and only – employer. An entrepreneur and engineer himself, he once told me that he used to have a keen interest in bird watching. Once he knew all of the birds in his area, he got bored and moved on to electronics. He hasn't gotten bored yet. I have never had an interest in bird watching, but I certainly have never gotten bored with engineering.

My boss also taught me the importance of moving the status quo. When I started working at his company, I was given the freedom to work on a number of extremely interesting projects. As time went on, rather than working on important projects that would have an impact on our industry, my time was spent on menial projects that were barely related to my area of interest. When I proposed new projects that would move the company forward and set them up to have products to sell in ten years, they were shot down for being too ambitious, too complicated, or too expensive. When I quit four months ago, the company was scrambling to piece together a prototype that was strikingly similar to something I proposed almost two years before. They were hopelessly behind the industry and will release one or two product iterations that are painfully expensive and time consuming. Even then, they'll probably never catch up. The lesson I learned: move early. If you wait for the market to tell you what to do, you'll always be behind. Sometimes you can succeed by fulfilling a market's obvious demands, but to truly make a difference you have to be the one who reads the cards and takes the market to the next level.

A desire to move the status quo is why I'm hoping to intern at Upverter in the coming months. They're a small Candadian startup doing work in the electronic design automation (EDA) space. While the product they're creating isn't essential yet, it has the potential to change how we design and test electronic systems. This is no easy goal, but for something that could transform the EDA market before this decade is out, it's worth the effort.

Engineering is not for everyone, but it is everything for me. I find engineering intriguing, exciting and fulfilling. If I have changed the world by the time I die, I will rest easily. I do not ask to be remembered and I care little if my name stays around, but I want to leave the world a better place than it was when I entered it.

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