Why do they hate the engineering mentality?

I was trained as an engineer, which I chose to pursue mostly because I recognized that I had a "can do" approach to problems. When other people said "can't be done" I was optimistic and said it could, and usually had a creative solution.

However, in the years since getting my degree, especially on a personal basis but also professionally I have discovered that many people not only despise this way of thinking, but it makes them angry.

For instance, the roommate who was accustomed to paying huge heating bills because of choosing oil rather than electricity, and imposing that poor decision on me too, angrily saying there is no other solution than oil, even when I showed there was. Time after time, I've encountered people like this.

What's ironic, too, is that very often they are educated people. They insist of doing things the wrong way, often making others go along with their bad idea. Possibly even thousands of people may be affected in the case of poorly devised products. All the while they pay the price for their bad decisions, and see that it's not working.

I have seen scientists look at evidence that they in their personal or professional lives have made poor decisions, and then ignore that evidence, which is contrary to good scientific thinking. I've also seen them look at evidence of real-world malfeasance, which even a college freshman could discern, and then side with the "official" bogus explanation of events, which a few times defied laws of physics.

I'm always amazed by how few people other than engineers are eager to work on problems to find novel, effective, efficient solutions and how few people other than engineers are willing to see what's in front of their eyes.

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Oh, me too! Just always remember; it's them, not you.

Don't get me started on how many times my wife has unplugged a lamp from its switching outlet, or a digital clock, just to plug in some temporary gadget!

Aw, heck, poor planning can also result in killing hundreds of thousands of foreigners. What were you saying recently about "no other solution than oil"??

If I were you, I would pay attention to how often I read patterns into random situations. That's, like, usually your inner consciousness telling you something...

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Wrong. Lots of people have a 'can do' attitude. Doesn't make them good engineers, or mean that they actually *can* do, of course. Most of the best engineers I've known knew when to say 'can't do'. They knew about scoping studies and risk management, and both.

What tends to set good engineers apart is that they *want* to solve problems for other people. And they don't want their projects to fail so they do the due diligence to make sure that the delivery is successful and the solution meets the users' needs. If they have engineering degrees, hopefully they've been given the ammunition to make this happen. Pity so many ignore it and start hacking.

Systems engineering takes this to another level for complex systems, but that's another story ...

Agreed. Like most of us, they really want to do what they want to do. Logic and planning are peripheral to their decisions (unless it's *their* logic). Sometimes they have a different agenda - other times they're just stupid. And they *hate* the analytical sermon that accompanies the lecture.

Ah, scientists. They don't work to solve other people's problems. They're driven by a need to find things out, or grab some scientific kudos, not to help people. That's they way they are. Strangely, engineers follow the 'scientific method' more than scientists do.

No, no, no! I'm always amazed at how many highly skilled, focused and reasonable folks there are out there, and how few of them are engineers. If you think about it, the achievements of the last 200 years haven't come from engineers only.

Really good engineers raise their eyes and factor their own environment into the solution. If you're as good as you suggest, you'll overtake most of the others. A couple will do better by focusing on the politics - if too many do this, move. Get a reputation for delivery of your solution and being right.


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Andrew Gabb

I think the OP was comparing the Engineering Creed, "fix the root cause, not the symptom", to humanity's penchant for causing problems for itself.

Civilians, in general, will often bond with some horrible problem, and feel mortally threatened if you attempt to fix it. Sometimes they would rather kill you than let you fix their problem!

You can't use logic to talk someone out of a position they didn't use logic to adopt.

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As long as you're not reinventing physics, go for it.

Perhaps it's not your ideas that make them angry, rather *you* make them angry.

How does your roommate impose *anything* on you? Are you a slave (no need to answer, the image I'm getting isn't pretty)? The fact is that in most (but not all) areas oil is cheaper, at least over the long term. It's pretty easy to prove it one way or another for your area.

Habits are hard to break, sometimes.

How are you "made" to go along with other's bad ides. DOn't you have you own?

Examples? Do you have to follow the other lemmings?

Sure. I've seen engineers thrown out on the street after a tax foreclosure too. Being a "scientist" or "engineer" doesn't make one perfect.

Or economics (electricity will become too cheap to meter).

Engineers are far from perfect. "Efficient" solutions aren't always the best, for various reasons and definitions of "best".

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He didn't say anything about clients. Learn to read.

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It doesn't make them angry, as much as it makes the better engineers quit, and invent workable technology, rather than more moron solutions for GE.

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| Civilians, in general, will often bond with some horrible problem, and feel | mortally threatened if you attempt to fix it. Sometimes they would rather | kill you than let you fix their problem!


| You can't use logic to talk someone out of a position they didn't use logic | to adopt.

I've also run across people that will THROW OUT an infected PC and buy a new one, rather than just wipe the drive and re-install. And they were quite insistant than I not take the trashed one.

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Of course, before one does this, it is important to remove all the software and data from the disk so it will not weigh too much in recycle bin.

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No, no, no...

You must be sure to write all 1's to the disk! In that way, the magnetic field of the platters will properly interact with the Earth's magnetic field (in the northern hemisphere) and prevent the thing from sticking to the bottom of the bin. Otherwise some poor dumpster-diver will get a hernia trying to steal his personal information and he will be sued for 'pain and suffering'.

(of course, in the southern hemisphere you must write all 0's and on the equator it is important to write 0x55555555 and 0xAAAAAAAA alternating)

daestrom :-)

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That is the disadvantage of living in the Northern Hemisphere. Writing all 1's will substantially increase the weight. I suppose the solution is to write all

0's and send the discarded disk drives to Australia or New Zealand. Then again, writing all 0's might have an adverse effect on the ozone layer so close to the Anarctic. The potential ecological implications are global. >
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Then if you write all '0's to a few million drives they could be used for the Goodyear blimp? Buyoancy could be controlled by writing a few '1's here and there. A disk crash, on the other hand...

"Oh, the humanity!"

...reverse in the Southern hemisphere.

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Mechanical Mind Gilbert Harman Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science. Margaret A. Boden. Two volumes, xlviii + 1631 pp. Oxford University Press, 2006. $225.

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Some people are frightened of change or new ideas.

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Well, why that surprises the consumer gluts anymore in the US is anybody's guess. Since people do the same with cars that have squeaky breaks, houses that have leaky roofs, jobs that don't come with three secretaries, TVs that look too old, stereo equipment that don't come with controls that they have no idea what they do, and books that aren't geniune leather covered.

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