Are You Ready For Some Bizarre Facts?
While reading about some of the history behind many of today’s product engineering and technological inventions we’ve discovered many interesting truths.
To start with when considering higher education, we have to chuckle about The Ohio State University’s degree in ‘sexual studies’. I’m sure there were many times as a teen many of us boys would have enjoyed pursuing that degree.
But, when considering the engineering career and the dozens of disciplines in the field one would think that the career is a bit of a joke. Because believe it or not, you will find engineers getting paid to play with skateboards in skate parks, and with women’s makeup, with toy models and you will even find them 200 feet atop a cell tower.
What’s even more interesting is that the career field is growing with Petroleum engineers starting out at $72,000 a year and electrical and computer engineers mid-career can earn with benefits around $150,000 a year. But you wouldn’t think that companies would want high paid nutty, loose goofballs working on million dollar projects, but you’d be wrong.
Consider the slinky and silly putty, and how did they create the potato chip? If you knew the truth about many of the inventions, creations and ideas that businesses are peddling today you could spend your day laughing it away. Again, you’d be surprised at the sometimes crazy and bizarre truths about engineering.
To start with many people when you ask them about engineers, think that they must be smart, way above average. Running around with their pocket protectors, laptops, and talking to themselves. And that they have a tight knit community with decades of schooling and that they make super great money.
Most Of What You Think is Wrong…
- Quick Fix – Instead the naked truth is way more interesting. Let’s start with the truth that most products designed and produced by engineers are a quick fix to a common problem that no one else has solved yet or feels the need to solve. Take the Home Shopping Network, or those late-night infomercials. Many, many of those products are clever and at closer look, easy to build products. Designed to be mass produced and sold cheaply.
Design, electrical and mechanical engineers are all often involved with those products. The point here is that for all the intelligence, and decades of experience, thousands of engineer’s toil everyday working on projects that are a step above junk.
- Fits Everyone – One of the challenges and biggest mistake with this career field is that some companies try to create something that can be used by everyone in the world. Think about that for a moment. With all the different tastes, cultures and environments, some companies have technical professionals hammering away at an impossible task.
Take the Bic Lighter company, how would you like to be working on their failed “disposable underwear” project. While they are known for their disposable pens, lighters and razors when it came to personal underwear they failed miserably. Sometimes all the design and marketing in the world won’t save a product.
- Telling Not Listening – One of the most common but crazy truths is the fact that for all the intelligence engineers are reputed to have they are often not intelligent enough to “shut up and listen”. Most often they spend their time, developing ideas and then TELLING consumers WE are the problem for not wanting what they made.
Imagine, someone telling a business that you want cheaper phones with more apps and a more powerful operating system. That happened to Research In Motions Blackberry phone. In 2009, they had some 21% of the market and in 2017 they have 0% of the market, and unbelievably the phone market is exploding with customer demand beyond capacity. Who does that, who doesn’t listen to their customers, but instead tells them what they are going to give them and expects us to like it and stay in business.
- Data – Another peculiar trait of the finely educated is the incessant need to collect data, this drive is to my experience seconded by nothing. This false believe that if I could only get the data everything would fix itself is crazy. But the data demand seems insatiable. So, what do we do with all this data?
That’s the naked truth, we store it, generating huge server farms that do nothing but collect data.
The reality is that data unused is a wasted, and a bigger fail is that data misused can be humorous if it wasn’t such a big failure of big data for the huge retail store “Target”.
They received outrage by consumers and privacy rights groups a couple of years ago when they sent discount coupons to an unsuspecting father who had not yet learned of his teen daughter’s pregnancy.
They collected information based on her purchases and deduced she must be pregnant and then optimizing that big data, they inadvertently sent congratulations to her home address, an EPIC fail.
- Perfect – Another often total truth is the common pursuit for perfection. It can be said that when you put your name on a product or service you should take great pride in it and therefore you should make it the absolute best you can. That’s good advice and here’s how it has been known to literally cripple engineers.
Let’s start with Intel’s flawed Pentiums chips, in 1994 they produced several chips that were unable to handle long division. While it didn’t affect the average user, it was a HUGE failure for scientists and engineers who require precise measurements. Intel was informed and yet they failed to correct it at first until technical professionals as noted earlier had to prove the chip produced errors in its returned results. Perfection is everything to some.
The Take Away
Maybe you’ve grown up believing that engineers are brilliant, the truth is that they are human and are prone to the same quirky behaviors we all are.
But in the end there is no career that affords the same exciting opportunity to travel the world, work with cutting edge tech, lead million dollar projects and earn 6 figures as engineering.
With this article we’re hoping we’ve answered some questions, sparked your curiosity and shared some useful information. But, we know you may need more, so we invite you to contact us for some follow up questions or to discuss your unique needs.
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