A Call to Arms for Engineers

by Mike Shipulski

A Call To Arms for EngineersEngineers make magic. We are the only ones who create things from nothing: cars, televisions, bridges, buildings, machine tools, molecules, software… (You get the idea.) Politicians can’t do it, lawyers can’t do it, MBAs can’t do it. Only engineers.

And the stuff we create is the foundation of sustainable economies. We create things, our companies sell them for a profit, and that profit creates wealth and fuels our economies – a tight causal chain. Said another way: no engineers, no products, no profits, no wealth, no economy. The end.

Engineers used to be valued for our magic. In medieval times we were given high status for our art, for making stuff that mattered: swords, trebuchets, armor, castles… (You get the idea.) And the best of us were given a special title (wizard) and special consideration (if not reverence) for our work. These folks were given a wide berth, and for good reason. Piss them off and they’d turn someone into a toad, or worse yet, stop making the stuff that mattered.

In the industrial revolution we were valued for our magic, for making stuff that mattered. This time it was the machines that made machines and weapons: water powered factories, gun drills, lathes, grinding machines, honing machines… (You get the idea.) Politicians used our magic to advance their causes and industrialists got rich on our magic, and our status was diminished.

Since then we’ve made more magic than ever: cars, televisions, bridges, buildings, machine tools, molecules, software… (You get the idea.) We still make magic yet have little influence over our how our companies do things. How did we let this happen? We forgot that we make magic.

We forgot our magic is valuable and powerful (and scary). We forgot that without our magic the wheels fall off. No magic, no profit, no economy.

Engineers – A call to arms! It’s time recognize our magic is still as powerful as Merlin’s and it’s time to behave that way again. Watch out politicians, lawyers, and MBAs or we’ll turn you into toads.

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Mike ShipulskiDr. Mike Shipulski (certfied TRIZ practioner) brings together the best of TRIZ, Axiomatic Design, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (2006 DFMA Contributer of the Year), and lean to develop new products and technologies. His blog can be found at Shipulski On Design.

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  1. I have a Bachelors in Computer Engineering and am very proud to be an Engineer. I too, make magic. But, working as an interface designer for a big corporation, I feel that my contributions are being ignored. How can I make myself heard?
    Also, working in software surrounded by men, I do occasionally wonder if that’s got anything to do with not being heard…

  2. I am a Mechanical Engineer who is working as a High School mathematics teacher. I love being an Engineer and being able to say I am an Engineer. There is nothing that even rivals it.

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