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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

 

 

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

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