Engineering Mindset

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs As It Applies to Engineering

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs As It Applies to Engineering

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of human motivations, suggesting that once certain needs are met, people are not satisfied with the present condition, but instead develop new, higher order needs and try to satisfy those. At the bottom of his hierarchy are the staunch basic – food, water, shelter, etc. The next level of need is to secure basic safety, a job, and so on. After that, people look for love and to become part of a group and to satisfy needs for friendship. The very highest level of need focuses on artistic values –  the need for morality, creativity, spontaneity, and self-actualization. Engineering, in a sense, has an analogous hierarchy of needs and developmental milestones. At the very basic end, when engineering is closest to science, the question is “can we make it work?” After that, the question becomes, “can we make it affordable?”  then “is it portable?” and […]

Social Engineering (And Not the Kind In Your Spam Folder)

Social Engineering (And Not the Kind In Your Spam Folder)

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 […]