Since the theme of the week is motivation, I was thinking about what motivated me to pursue engineering in the first place. Recently, the Huffington Post had an interesting post on how to inspire scientists, and the disconnect between policy makers and scientists. The author also talks about engineers, and indicates that “useful and cool” are enough motivation to convince students to push through four years of college to get an engineering degree before heading out into industry to get a decent paying job at 22 to 25. And yes, the STEM fields are doing better than their non-STEM counterparts in terms of employment, but as has been discussed on this blog before, the idea of a career is changing. The economy is more global and more volatile than ever. The idea of a secure, well-paying job can be a great motivator, but it’s becoming less realistic.
It seems to me that in all of these policy conversations, the conversation focuses on hypothetical students who might consider engineering or science, and how to convince them to pursue a career in STEM. But what about the real students who already made that choice? Every engineer was once a student who may have chosen a different career path, so why did we pick engineering?
For me, the thing that led me into materials science was actually music. As a brass player, I became interested in corrosion and in the acoustic properties of different materials. I had always been good at math and science, but an interest in metals gave me a sense of direction and purpose.
How did you decide to be an engineer?