Scientists dream about doing great things, Engineers do them.
- Thomas Edison (February 11, 1847-October 18, 1931)
Thomas Edison is probably most famous for being the inventor of the light bulb, but over his years as an engineer Edison also invented or influenced many other things that we use today. He invented the motion picture camera and the phonograph (the forerunner of the record player) among others.
He was also one of the first inventors to make use of mass production techniques with his inventions, allowing him to create on a larger scale. Although he was a great inventor, he was often criticised as being businessman-like and living off the inventions of his team, rather than his own ideas.
- Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452-May 2, 1519)
Leonardo da Vinci may be a name more recognisable in the world of art as he was most famously an artist, sculptor and musician, but da Vinci had a keen interest in science and mathematics. Although he may not have built his creations in the way that other engineers have, it is the designs da Vinci penned which were of huge significance. Some of his designs were attempted during his lifetime, most significant of all including a hang glider and a machine similar to a helicopter.
In 2001 the Norwegian highway department built a bridge based on one his designs, showing how influential he remains in the minds of contemporary engineers.
- Archimedes of Syracuse (c.287 BC-c.212 BC)
Archimedes (he of Eureka! fame) is famously known as a gifted mathematician, engineer, inventor, astronomer and physicist. With all this knowledge it is no wonder he is one of the most influential engineers of all time.
His reputation as one the greatest engineers was built through contributions which include the Archimedes’ screw, the block-and-tackle pulley systems and most impressively the creation of several war machines which were used to defend cities.
- Nikola Tesla (July 10, 1856-January 7, 1943)
Unlike some of those mentioned in this list, Tesla received little of the public acknowledgement that his work deserved. During his early years he worked for Thomas Edison and it is claimed some of Edison’s creations were based upon his work. Tesla’s pioneering work included radio, X-ray machines and induction motors.
Tesla can be thanked for the alternating current and electrical motors and even for his part in the Industrial Revolution thanks to his expertise in the use of electricity and electrical engineering. Considering where Tesla’s successes lie it is clear that to follow in his footsteps electrical engineering should be your main consideration for your studies.
- The Wright Brothers – Orville Wright (August 19, 1871-January 30, 1948) & Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867-May 30, 1912)
The Wright Brothers together are credited with one of the biggest inventions that have changed our world. In 1903, after years of experimenting with unpowered gliders, it is believed they created the world’s first successful powered airplane and would publicly demonstrate this five years later. In their creation of their airplane they explored the use of aerodynamic control on the objects surfaces rather than engine power.
The Wright Brothers provide you with a number of options course wise to follow in their footsteps. Firstly mechanical engineering may be your first choice as engineers in this sector often find themselves working in areas that relate to the Wright Brothers achievements. If you want to specialise then maybe consider aerospace engineering or automotive engineering.
Now to answer your question :
1. Studying engineering brings prestige
Do not forget the prestige that comes with studying engineering. Non-engineers will be like “wow” when they hear that you are an engineer. Everyone knows how much effort is required to qualify as an engineer. They are also well aware of the sacrifices engineering students have to make during their studies. So the element of respect comes naturally.
2. It sets you up for professional success
Your entire thought process changes. You learn how to think like an engineer. You acquire logical thinking and critical analysis skills. Decision-making skills are improved. You become more objective and less emotional when it comes to work. All of these skills are greatly needed in the professional world, in any field. So, engineers tend to do better no matter which sector they choose, and they also tend to make good managers. So much so, engineering is the most common undergraduate degree among Fortune 500 CEOs.
3. You’ll be ready for any problem
I am not saying that once you are done with the engineering degree, you will not encounter any more problems or difficulties in your life. You will. Probably even tougher than the ones faced during your degree. But at the same time, you will have acquired the skills and the confidence to deal with any kind of problem. You will know exactly how to go about it, and where to hit it. No problem – no matter how big – will seem insurmountable. In fact, you will starting every problem as a challenge and an opportunity to grow.
4. It brings financial security ( given you have done justice with your studies 😛 )
If you are the kind of person who craves a lavish and exuberant lifestyle or simply longs for a better future for your kids, then engineering is for you. The majority of educational think-tanks, blogs and news portals rate engineering as one of the top-paid degree programs. To be exact, engineering programs take up almost 40% of the slots in the top 10 paying majors’ lists. The most prominent and lucrative engineering disciplines are chemical, computer, electrical, nuclear and petroleum engineering.
5. You get a chance to improve the world
It feels really wonderful when you know that you are actually positively contributing something to society. Words cannot describe the feeling when someone looks at a newly constructed bridge and says, “I built that bridge.” If you ever get a chance to ask an engineer about his/her work, notice how they beam with pride when talking about their contribution in creating something new, even if it is as simple as a “like” button on a website .
So, I hope this piece has helped provide some motivation to high school students contemplating studying engineering. And as far as current students are concerned, I hope it has given sufficient motivation to get off the couch and finish that project they’ve been procrastinating about!