Every year around this time, a new batch of high school students finally confront the looming question in front of them - which course of study to pursue moving forward? (Sure, there is that 10% who has it all figured out for the next decade, but lets stick to the majority here). For most, due to a combination of parental nudges, peer pressure and sometimes simple herd instinct and aggressive televertising, the choice boils down to a binary one - medical or engineering, with a large fraction opting for the later. While the exponential proliferation of “engineering” colleges has supposedly led to a boom in the number of engineering graduates passing out each year, the quality of the graduates has taken an equally sharp downturn as per most industry surveys. At this juncture, it becomes extremely important to judge whether you want an engineering degree, or you want to be an engineer - for the distinction between these two has been even more marked in recent times. So, without further ado, here is what it means (and takes) to be an engineer.
- Engineers create new things and add value to society on a day-to-day basis. Developing novelty is pretty much the bread-and-butter of an engineering job. From skyscrapers to spaceships, apps and websites to higways and bridges - all are the handiwork of engineers.
- Engineers find solutions to real-world problems. At the core of engineering is the desire to make human lives better, and this finds implementation by way of solutions to issues that are faced on a day-to-day basis. Today, we move faster, eat better and stay safer than ever before, with engineers at the helm of every aspect.
- Engineers apply mathematics to scale solutions to obtain repeatable results. No innovation can truly benefit society if it only remains in the hands of a few and is not mass-producible, or can be accessed freely by everyone. And it is engineers who ensure that a solution to a problem can scale, from one to many, so that the benefits can be reaped by all.
If you are a high school graduate looking to make your choice of field of study, I would sincerely recommend you opt for engineering only if you can identify yourself with all of the above. And remember, most importantly, engineering is not a silver bullet - you can do well in whatever field you opt for. Go with your heart, not with the herd. All the best!
Inspired by this awesome post by Balaji Viswanathan on Quora