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Engineers Day 2018: Motivate And Inspire The Engineer Within Yourself

Engineering is no longer restricted to just building machines, bridges, buildings or windmills

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Engineering is a profession where your figment of imagination gets converted into reality with the help of science or technology. Thus, it is only fair to say that engineers are the architect of the developing world and have played a pivotal role in building the world from scratch. 

India has a demonstrated history of producing world-class engineers. It is these engineers who then collaborate with others like them to invent, innovate and simplify the most challenging problems facing the world. Whether it be lighting the most remote villages in Ladakh to placing a man on planet Mars. The era in which we are living; every company needs innovation and improvement in overall quality of life. Engineers play a pivotal role there as well. Traditionally, an engineer was someone who conceptualized, designed, tested structures and constructed stuff that had a certain utility attached to them. In modern times, the definition has undergone a complete overhaul and the expectations from an engineer have also changed significantly. Today an engineer is someone who creates, innovates, invents, dreams, solves problems, tests and researches – all combined into one. It is now expected of engineers to break all stereotypes, shatter the glass ceiling and emerge as leaders, entrepreneurs, and visionaries. ‘Engineer-cum-Entrepreneur’ is a new species that has emerged where the engineer is also expected to have an entrepreneurial mindset in a way that he can take full ownership of a product that he creates, thereby ultimately being vested in the profitability of the product.

Getting back to engineering, one question that always comes to my mind is whether it is mandatory to have a formal degree in engineering to be called an engineer? Think about it. There are a lot of engineered products that you encounter or use in your daily lives. Are these engineered products actually all developed by engineers? Of course, the names that come to mind immediately when you talk about engineers and inventions are highly credible and renowned names like Alexander Graham Bell, Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford. Mighty names to reckon with. However, have you ever stopped to think about the origin of several products which you use on a daily basis which seemingly go unnoticed? These are products which are relatively smaller in size, do not cost you much but have a very high usage frequency. What we often fail to realize is that these are also engineering marvels in themselves which required a special level of inspiration, ideation, creativity, proficiency, and expertise. Take, for example, the straw which you use to sip your beverages. Did you ever bother to think that how easily bendable the straw is?

Joseph Friedman observed that his little girl was struggling to drink milkshake using that old paper straw; she was barely able to reach the end of the straw and was struggling badly. And an idea immediately struck Friedman. He inserted a screw into the straw and then wrapped a floss around it so as to create a texture. When he later took out the screw, he could see that his daughter was easily drinking the milkshake, because the straw got naturally bent over the rim of the glass. The soda cans have now shattered the stereotype of carrying bottle openers because they have the easily usable pop top. This invention is credited to Ernie Fraze who invented it just because he forgot a bottle opener on his picnic. Candy maker Sam Born was the one who inserted a stick into the lollipops to make it easily usable. The pencil you use today with the comfort of an eraser at its other end, do you know who invented it? It was Hymen Lipman who brought the pencil and eraser together, else we would have kept struggling. He was the inventor of modern pencils with erasers attached at the back. Did we ever bother to think how comfortable we carry and drink coffee in a mug with a lid and without even spilling it? It was Jack Clements who developed a domed lid so that it can rest perfectly between the nose and the mouth so that we can easily sip the coffee (even while we travel). While Friedman and Fraze were engineers by degree, the others did not have any formal training in Engineering.

It is thus critical to understand that Engineering is all-encompassing. It is no longer restricted to just building machines, bridges, buildings or windmills. It touches every aspect of our lives from the largest of airplanes to the smallest of the candies. It does not require any formal education or initiation and we all are mini engineers in our ourselves. We only need to motivate and inspire the engineers within us to come out and unleash their talent on the world. It can make our lives more enriching and the world more beautiful. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Arunabh Sinha

The author is Founder and ceo, UClean

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