The Creative Side to Engineering and the Sciences…

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I was inspired to write this article because of the frustration I had with the educational system and its overall approach to educating the general public and more specifically, our younger generation, of the endless possibilities that are available to those who open their eyes to these professions.

My hope is that I can share in my own experiences to help open the minds of our youth, so that they can truly understand and appreciate what makes these fields so amazing. I wanted to show the side of engineering that most people tend to overlook… the side that enjoys the same creative and artistic expression that you would “normally” only expect from a painter, a musician or a photographer. Sadly enough, it goes without reason, that the areas of science in general, do not share in this image of creativity and expression…

With all the technological and medical advances we have made over in the history of the world, including new technologies that our world today cannot live without, it’s hard to imagine why so many people overlook these advances as purely as mere science without creativity and expression… Highly unlikely.

The structural engineering profession is no different. In school, when I was growing up, engineering and similar fields seemed be understood as pure (100%) science with limited room for creativity and expression. However, what was clearly “understood” to most of my peers, was what was REQUIRED of them to excel in these fields. For those of my peers that were not quite as successful in these areas (math and physics), they were “automatically” steered into an easier and more comfortable direction/path.   Maybe things would be different if our educational system focused on teaching not just pure science, but what actually makes these professions exciting, to help to spark their imagination and curiosity…

Instead of learning about the beauty and the possibilities that lie in the structural engineering field – such as our world’s history of engineering marvels… the Egyptian pyramids, the Roman coliseums, our amazing skyscrapers and bridges… We are taught only what tends to make us drift away – the requirements to “make it” in this field… in the case of many engineering fields, to “be smart at math or physics”… What a great way to streer away our youth…

Funny thing I’ve learned about the structural engineering field is that once you learn and understand the fundamentals, you do not need much math and physics after all… Seriously… AND when you do, we have calculators and computers to make our lives much easier.

Don’t get me wrong, structural engineering (theory) is in fact math and physics based, but in actual practice, many engineering disciplines just use what is learned in school as a basis for more formalized building codes. Again, yes, these codes are based off the underlying fundamental theory, but nonetheless, adopted by committee agreement to satisfy an arbitrary factor of safety…

What I’ve found about engineering is that TRUE engineering is more creative than pure science… YES, you have to know the fundamentals, but once you do, then everything else is a piece of cake…

When I talk about engineering as being highly creative, I am referring to those engineers that actively seek NEW and CREATIVE solutions to problems. Yes, I’ve seen my share of “engineers” who wouldn’t know how to be creative if their life depended on it, and who rely strictly on what is “standard” or what has ALREADY been done before… I DON’T call that engineering and I DON’T consider them engineers for the most part… I call that/them being only highly resourceful and knowing where or what to copy…

For those that actually engineer, you all know what I am talking about. We use our background and knowledge in simple engineering fundamentals – more in principles and concepts rather than equations/formulas… to find new and innovative ways to create. Just look around you… these engineering marvels are EVERYWHERE where you least expect them… it’s just that they tend to get unnoticed because of the ease at which they were put together and blend with the environment. You DON’T notice them because they WERE MEANT to be engineered and designed that way… Now that’s what I call pure genius…

Trust me, as a structural engineer I see it everywhere I go… these amazing marvels that spark my own imagination and creativity. And everyday I am amazed at the technological advances we have seen in engineering and in ALL sciences.. THIS IS NOT pure science- it’s the best of creativity at work… You just have to open your eyes to see it and appreciate it… Who knows, maybe one day our educational as a whole will take notice and try to adopt and instill this very way of thinking to our young and impressionable youth…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

 

 

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