“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
We all answer that question when we are young, and most of us don’t think about engineering. But why not?
Some of us are good at math or science, so we think about becoming scientists. Scientists study the world and develop a body of knowledge – in biology, chemistry, physics, or another field - that can be used for a lot of things. Some of the information is interesting and very important, and some of it might never be used for anything. The purpose of science it to explain why the world is the way it is.
Some of us seek to express feelings in unique ways for the rest of the word to experience. We feel the need to create, so we think about becoming artists, musicians, or writers. Many creative people want their work to be seen and appreciated in the world, but many are satisfied with their work when they feel they have done a good job of expressing themselves. And artists, writers, and musicians don’t worry about how their work will affect the world; their goal is to create something that expresses feelings.
In many ways, engineering is a combination of the two: engineers use math and science, and they use math and science as tools in creative ways. The big difference is that engineers are always doing their work to solve important problems. Everywhere you look you will find parts of your life that were created by an engineer when he or she set out to solve a problem.
The smartphone you use every day, and all the cool apps that run on it, were designed by engineers. The buildings you see all around you were designed by architects (architects are a lot like engineers that spend most of their time designing buildings) and engineers. The roads and bridges that you travel on, and the cars that carry you on them, were created by engineers.
If you’re interested in science and you’re pretty good at math, and you like the idea of solving important problems you should consider a career in engineering.
Maybe you will be the person that designs a factory that makes a COVID-19 vaccine that is inexpensive enough that it can be distributed to underdeveloped economies across the world.
Maybe you will be the person that designs spacecraft that can travel to distant planets, or the buildings and cities that can be built there.
Maybe you will be the person that creates systems that generate power without creating greenhouse gases and solve the global warming problem.
So when they ask you what you want to be when you grow up, tell them you’re thinking about engineering!