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On Our Watch – Part 2

I’m writing this post because I feel I left some things unsaid from my last post – On Our Watch. This was mainly spurred from the great comments from fellow engineers who were caring enough to share their thoughts and experiences working as an engineer.

The engineering profession has a tarnished reputation (hence the corroded Iron Ring above). I knew this many years ago when a lawyer friend first heard I was going to work for an engineering firm and his only comment was that it must be difficult to work in an industry with such a bad reputation. Please note that this came from a lawyer. Not to be bashing lawyers in my post as I have only met good lawyers in my travels but I think it is the few (and Hollywood) that give them a bad reputation. Regardless I see my profession becoming revered in the same manner through our actions or maybe more so from a lack of action. I often see answers provided from a gut decision for a number of reasons but often poor decisions are made from failing to perform proper due diligence.

Due diligence is the level of judgement, care, prudence, determination, and activity that a person would reasonably be expected to do under particular circumstances.

I can not stress enough how important this is in the engineering profession. Often when mistakes happen in an engineering design is when the proper analysis is not completed. Too often I see engineers take the stance that they are all knowing and they expect from themselves to have all of the answers before you even ask the question. This is a dangerous circumstance that can negatively impact people’s lives and as well company’s returns.

It is impossible for an engineer to have all of the answers. However, an engineer is expected to find the right answer. This can be accomplished by having an open mind and knowing there is always something new to learn. Technology constantly changes and it is an engineer’s responsibility to find the best way of applying their knowledge and creating well-engineered designs to provide the right solution. Remember, it’s okay to say these three little words “I don’t know.” Then follow up with this “But I will find you the answer.”

I have often said that “If one thinks that they are all-knowing, they have become ignorant. This is because there is always something new to learn. If you are learning then you are improving.”

I ask engineers to challenge the status quo, question the way things have always been done, constantly learn and study, apply new ideas and be creative in your designs, and ultimately you will find the right solution and be a successful engineer.

As well please remember that our engineering degree only proves that you can learn and gives you the fundamental principles and concepts on how to apply your knowledge. Once you start your career that is when the real learning begins.

Ryan HutchinsonOn Our Watch – Part 2
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