Engineering is an inherently social activity. The pace and breadth of knowledge required to build useful things has become such that it’s no longer possible for one person to develop a product in a competitive environment. It requires a team.
That’s actually one of the things I particularly enjoy about engineering; the discussion of ideas, intense lunch meetings, the sense of teamwork and relying on people who can do things that you can’t. I work in a very interdisciplinary group, and being around programmers, electrical engineers, and project managers gets me outside of my usual mechanical engineering bubble.
I bring up the topic of engineering as a social activity because I’ve been through a bit of a lull lately. (As a consultant, things tend to shift between very high and very low gears). I believe it was the following Dilbert comic that expresses my mood the best:
Being underloaded work wise is a bit odd. It’s making me miss the work I do and reminding me that I really enjoy engineering because I like hanging out with people and making cool things.
Of course, I say that now, but I’m sure that in a little while, we’ll be pedal to the metal again and busy, but the drop in the amount of in office interaction is making reflect on how much engineering is about teamwork.