Life coach

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

 

 

Where did all the Engineers go?…

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In the past, the general engineering profession has always been a popular choice among young professionals.  Today, certain engineering disciplines seem to be experiencing a major shortage, which the industry, in general, is having trouble to sustain.

As an employer in a niche industry, I’ve seen this first hand.  Competition among firms for already experienced and skilled professionals and technical personnel has increased significantly because of the lack of new graduates entering into the workforce. But the numbers of even these very personnel have been shrinking as this generation begins to leave the workforce. And with the lack of new graduates to eventually replace them, the issue becomes apparent on a company’s ability to maintain the same quality of personnel (and quality of work for their clients) for the years to come.

Over the years, the engineering profession has seen a major shift in the numbers of new engineering graduates entering into the profession. Why this is the case is uncertain, but through my own experience and seeing my own kids growing up, I can see a huge disconnect between what kids are being taught in school and the actual REAL world. Focus in our school system seems to have shifted from a more practical to a more technological approach to learning – in my opinion both a good thing and a bad thing. A common problem I see today is the lack of exposure and interaction (and connection) that children have to the REAL world. This type of interaction is important to helping the next generation to “find” their creative interests. The engineering and science professions RELY on this type of engagement for the future, as our children are the ones who will be driving us years down the road. Our children ARE the key to the future, and we need to help guide them so that they can clearly “see” what is in front of them.

We as parents need to help our children develop in a way that helps nurture and open their creativeness. We need to “force” them to put down the IPads and go outside to explore our world the same way our generation did, without the distractions that these “conveniences” bring. When we do, we help to open a world that we are forced to discover on our own… One in which we can experience first hand, interact with and LEARN from. This type of connection is the answer to opening up a “new” world and spark the imagination and creativity of our young, and to  help them to “find” their own path which they can be excited to explore…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

A quick road map to life’s little roadblocks… random thoughts to get you “moving” through the day…

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The road of life is tough. There are too many obstacles around us every day trying to stop us in our tracks… But don’t be discouraged. This is a “normal” part of life…

Drive through these “road blocks”… Or take a detour… There is ALWAYS a way.

STOP driving blind or in the dark… open your eyes and turn on your headlights… YOU WILL find direction and the light…

ALWAYS know YOUR DIRECTION… Use a compass or map to guide you… Create YOUR own road map and FOLLOW it ALWAYS…

Always STAY on the road… Stay on YOUR path… and KEEP ON DRIVING…

And… DON’T run out of gas… Fill up your tank when it’s empty… and keep on going… and going…

Until… YOU REACH YOUR DESTINATION…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

There is NO such thing as “Luck”… only “HARD WORK” in the REAL world…

 

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You hear it all the time… “this person” or “that person” seems to have ALL the “luck” in the world… You know who I’m talking about…  We all probably know someone directly who ALWAYS seems to be in the “right place at the right time”… Sometimes this may truly be the case, but for THE REST OF US, who are not so lucky, there’s still some hope…

I’ve seen it first hand with my own folks… They seem to have this magical touch when it comes to playing slot machines at the casino… my parents seem to have this gift of walking up to any slot machine, putting some money in, and walking away with THE JACKPOT! How I would love to hit even just one small jackpot in my LIFETIME gambling career… wouldn’t we all…

This was my mentality growing up… that luck happens strictly by chance…. I know better now. After watching my parents in action at these casinos, I can tell you now that “luck” is only a small part of the equation. Trust me, you would be a believer after seeing how much  hard work THEY put into “beating up” these machines… My parents “play” those machines with the same intent and ferocity that a fighter has in the ring… I’ve seen my mom literally sit there on front of a machine ALL night long, without sleep (or food), simply because she was 100% convinced that it was going to “hit” any second, and she was not about to let the jackpot go to the next person in line. Funny thing.. as much as I always doubted the outcome, my mom (and dad) ALWAYS had the last laugh… and walked away with the jackpot.

Watching my parents, I realized that what they were able to accomplish in the casino was not luck at wall… Instead, it was really their WILL to win and to ultimately beat these machines that allowed them to be so successful. It was like a game to them. Yeah the reward at the end of the tunnel was always the main motivating factor, but whether they would directly admit it or not, they ENJOYED playing the game, just AS MUCH as they loved winning.

This whole idea was the “edge” that my parents had over the casino. They NEVER gave up and always just trusted their gut and instinct. Even at times when a particular machine won the round, they simply moved on to the NEXT machine until they FOUND the RIGHT one… Some of the “battles” that I’ve seen, MOST other players would have NEVER returned to the game. But no matter how painful a defeat, my parents ALWAYS came back to win.

The type of effort and “fire” that they put into the casino was at the SAME level that we would normally only expect from a professional athlete or even a Fortune 500 CEO.  In essence, my parents were actually PROFESSIONAL slot machine players, who won not because of “luck” but through shear will and determination to succeed.

I believe that it is this same will and determination that is the main driving force behind any successful person or operation.  Throughout my own experience, I have come to realize that “luck” is something that YOU can actually CREATE in YOUR own life.  By this, I mean that by PUTTING YOURSELF in the position and SETTING YOURSElF UP for these opportunities, “luck” is more likely to come your way. And all it takes is to be fully PREPARED and ready to take advantage of these opportunites… and take advantage of YOUR OWN “LUCK”, that you,YOURSELF, have helped create…

ZLS Consulting Inc. @ 2017

 

 

Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice… Understanding Through Simplified Concepts…

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One of the biggest problems I see facing most new grads as they enter into the workforce is their inability to grasp simple concepts related to their field.  This is such a common issue I’ve seen, particularly the engineering professions.  I have seen it time and time again, where these very bright and highly intelligent individuals come in for an interview, but mess it up because they simply can not show their understanding for the simplest of concepts.

But I don’t blame them… I believe the issue lies in the educational system which seems to value  theoretical based knowledge over more practical and simplified concepts.  As a new graduate, I fell under the same problem… and it took me years to finally be able to grasp all these concepts that should have actually been learned in the curriculum.

My dad played a huge role in helping me to see the importance of learning through more simplified concepts. As a new engineer, I was overwhelmed by the pressures of being under the microscope of one of the most accomplished and creative structural engineers I have ever known – my own dad…

Growing up I have seen my dad tackle the biggest and most complicated of structural problems… many of which, I have seen most structural engineers would try to avoid out of exposing their actual knowledge and understanding (or lack of) in the very field that they claim to be so-called experts. Instead, my dad took every problem head on and he found the most creative of solutions to all of them…

Training under his wing, he taught me to look at engineering through a more practical approach.  He explained concepts, not in terms of complicated theory, but in the most simplified and easy to grasp concepts… concepts in which the “average” (non-engineer)  would be able to understand, given the explanation.  He taught me the complexities of structural engineering through the simplest concepts and ideas, which allowed me to finally grasp this theory that would be meaningless without a true understanding of the simple mechanics behind it all.

Today, I do the same with my own… I train my team through the simplest concepts and ideas… ideas to which to an accomplished structural engineer may seem almost laughable at the surface, but which in no means cannot be denied…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017

Valuable Mistakes and the Lessons Learned From Them – A Structural Engineer’s Perspective on Life…

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Growing up I never quite understood the importance of making mistakes.  I think as adolescents we tend to equate making mistakes as failure, as we are surrounded so much by life’s pressures that we get confused about the real meaning behind them. Throughout the years, I have learned to accept my mistakes and simply use them as potential learning opportunities.

As a fresh graduate from college, I, like the thousands of other new grads entering into the workforce was excited and eager to experience my new profession head on. I approached it as an opportunity to prove my understanding and “knowledge” and ultimately prove myself to the real world. What a humbling experience that it actually turned out to become…

The countless mistakes I made along the way seemed to be a major road block to successfully “proving myself to the world”. Initially, I took these perceived “failures” as major blows to my ego… And it took some time to actually digest how really unprepared and unqualified for the profession I really was.  But like most others, I continued on and tried to move past these mistakes, and hopefully learn from them…

What I eventually realized was that this situation was not only happening to me, but was a common and normal process for most people entering into ANY new and “uncharted” territory… I began to look at mistakes not as “failures” but merely as obstacles or “minor” setbacks along the journey… Ones that NEEDED to be tackled head on…

As an adult now, I have learned that mistakes are actually important and healthy steps in individual growth.  They help shape and nurture our lives and bring about actual meaning to them, as they give us new meaning and challenges to overcome. With them we become stronger.

As human beings, it’s tough to accept our mistakes, but we have to learn to be able to accept them into our lives.  Instead of being critical of our own mistakes, we need to learn from them.  We need to accept them merely as part of life’s normal challenges, and embrace them so that we can eventually overcome them… And REALLY learn from them.  When YOU do, you will NEVER make the same mistake twice, and will be more successful in everything that you do along the way…

ZLS Consulting Inc. (c) 2017