Happy Engineers Week!
This week a twenty-something employee at the feed store noticed my alma mater sticker on my cargo van and asked what was my major. I always hesitate a moment when I say Electrical Engineering; I guess because I’m anticipating the pause that’s going to come from the other end, as it takes the asker by surprise. I almost say it with apology, yeah, I know, I picked one of the hardest majors, and you maybe didn’t. This time, the reply was enthusiastic. I’m majoring in Mechanical Engineering! Then he quickly asked, with a little resignation, slinging a bag of feed over his shoulder, was it worth it?
I know that age of questioning. When you’re in the middle of what seems like an eternity of schooling, your resolve is flagging, and it’s very, very hard. Especially if you have a job, to boot. I slopped tacos in a restaurant, this guy is bucking bales. My answer was immediate and with no hesitation, yep, it’s worth it. But articulating why took a few minutes.
It’s good money, that’s for sure. Stability, security, you can work anywhere. But those are only superficial reasons. It’s really more of an identity than a job. I like being able to solve problems that most other people can’t solve; and I wouldn’t have developed those skills without all those years of grueling study. I love pulling on my math skills all the time, every day. And, attacking everything with a curiosity for understanding root cause; trying to stay objective, unbiased, a little detached. Every dilemma in life is just a design problem waiting for a thoughtful decision after all the available choices are analyzed.
And, oh yeah, I love my nerdy coworkers. I love that we have a universal affection for sci fi movies, technology, scientific discovery, cleverness and innuendo. If I ever left engineering, I would miss them. Nerds really understand other nerds.
Yeah. Stick with it, it’s worth it.