All Engineers Are Socially Inept!

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“I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of engineers being stereotyped as socially inept,” says Dan Hebert in “Less math = better engineers” at ControlDesign.com.

The author’s point is that engineering curricula should include more electives so engineers have time to have a social life – the resulting people skills will serve them well in their careers.  Since Dan graduated in the 70’s (as I did), he researched the current engineering curriculum at the University of Texas.  UT’s goal: so much engineering homework you have to stay up almost all night to get it done.  I checked my own source; my youngest is an engineering graduate of UT.  He said that the work level was like that for him.  Although as I recall when visiting him that he knew Sixth Street pretty well.

My story is relevant to this line of thought.  I was born an engineer.  From learning to make gunpowder from the ingredient list and proportions in the Encyclopedia Britannica in fifth grade, I moved on to my first computer.  It was a Geniac.  It wasn’t an electronic computer, of course.  I had it on my Christmas list after I saw an ad in Popular Science – a little later than this ad.

Recognizing the stereotype all those years ago, I determined to pursue courses beyond engineering – sociology, psychology, anthropology, philosophy.  It wound up taking me an extra year but some of that was due to course availability.  (I worked my way through university and had to choose classes around my work schedule as a draftsman.)

My advice to engineering students: broaden your educational base.  Be social (it doesn’t have to be in the bar).

Another day, another airport.  Today, I’m in route from Houston to Dallas to Frankfurt, then the train to Nuremberg for the SPS/Drives Show and meetings with PROFIBUS and PROFINET colleagues.  I’ve learned not to promise daily reports from the show – the days are too long, but maybe a summary from the long flight home next weekend.

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