Beam Me Up Scotty: Happy Engineers Week!

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Did you know that this is National Engineers’ Week in the US? I’m betting that unless you actually are an engineer you had no idea. Just about every week has been designated as “The Week of Something” so these things go unnoticed unless they have a direct effect on you. This morning when I realized I was happily navigating my way through this week with no knowledge of it’s importance, I decided to look it up and see what kinds of things engineers do to recognize their special week. My Mom was a nurse and during Nurses Week (happens in May in case you were wondering) the hospital sent her home with all sorts of fun stuff for kids about healthcare, and she got free lunches and treats. It stood to reason that engineers should get treats and come home with, uh, okay I have no idea what an engineer would come home with, maybe a hydrospanner? So, I did my research, and here’s the thing. Engineers….you’re doing it wrong.

Now, now, calm down. I’m married to an engineer. I love you guys. You fix things that I can’t figure out even when they’re working correctly. You create things I’ve only imagined and you actually make them work. Engineers are awesome. Without you there’d be no cars, no computers, no rockets, no cell phones and no spaceships. Engineers are cool. If you’re studying engineering, then this is a darn fine week to be an almost-engineer. Purdue University started the week with hot chocolate for everyone, followed by a Giant Jenga Tower competition and a little Human Tetris. The whole purpose of this week is to celebrate engineering and encourage others to take an interest in and be proud of engineers. Now, if I went to Purdue, I’d seriously be considering an engineering major (hot chocolate, people) but I honestly couldn’t find much else “fun” happening this week for the rest of us.

There are some events sponsored by engineering schools like MIT that are being held at local museums to give their students a chance to share their passions with kids. This is great, but I still wouldn’t know about any of this stuff unless I happened to wander upon it by accident. None of it is exciting. It’s dry and boring and stereotypically what people think of when they think of engineers. You need a little panache, an image to stir the masses. No, not a cutesy little diagram of a brain with gears or a car morphing from a Model T into a Porsche. What you guys need, is Scotty. The King of Engineers. Scotty could fix anything and he could do it in less time than was humanly possible. He could climb through Jefferies tubes and patch together The Enterprise while lying on his back with only inches of room and the entire ship threatening to shake apart. He made engineering cool.

I know, you’re thinking “Yeah, but he’s not real. There’s no Scotty and there’s no Enterprise. We don’t know how to build that stuff.” My answer is this… “You don’t know how to build it, yet.” That is what makes engineering exciting. Not what you guys do, but what you will do in the future. So stop holding banquets and hanging out at museums. Do something fun! What you guys do is amazing. You are the real-life Scottys of the world. Share the your enthusiasm with others and if all else fails, there’s always hot chocolate.

This article was reprinted from Total Fan Girl, a blog written by Nicole Wakelin.

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