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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Being an Engineer isn't the Worst Thing in the World

Didn't know I was an Engineer?

Yep - a Chemical Engineer - graduated from Lamar University in 1984 with a B.S. in Chem E.

Went to work at Dow Chemical in Freeport Tx and worked there for 22 years in a variety of Petrochemical Plant Operations, Maintenance, Project, Safety, Quality Assurance / Quality Control, Estimating, Planning, Scheduling and Commissioning functions.

You name it... if it had to do with running, maintaining, designing, building, commissioning, starting up or shutting down a petrochemical plant... I probably did it or watched it done or was involved in it in some way.

And got ridiculed, belittled and criticized for being an Engineer that whole time.

Oh, part of it was the uneducated Redneck culture of much of the Operators and Maintenance people I worked with and the general populous who doesn't have a fucking clue what an Engineer does or what he / she knows.

And, frankly, part of it was that a lot of Engineers can quote the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and write several equations based on it, but don't have a practical, functional, real World Understanding of Much of Anything and can't apply any of the theory they pontificate to anything meaningful in life, such as getting work done.

Now with all that said, here's what a Good Engineer does know.

They know how the World Works.

They understand the physical, functional, mechanical, chemical, electrical, biochemical and economical basis and makeup of the World and much of everything in it.

And they understand why the World doesn't Work.... and how to fix it.

And here's the most important part.....

They understand how to solve problems... maybe not psychological, emotional or relational problems -

But they understand how to analyze a system, a work process or a challenge and apply the scientific method or at least an organized and analytical approach to solving a problem.

They know and understand how to organize the 3 M's of work:  Manpower, Machinery and Materials and can coordinate that with the 4th Dimension of getting work done.....


And they know when someone is Bullshitting them.

It's hard to run a con or to mislead an Engineer because they can disseminate information and extract mistruths and divergences from it.

Because that's the way an Engineer's mind works.

And yes, I understand, Engineers can be rigid know-it-all's.

Part of the Problem is that Engineers don't know it all, but they know a lot, and frankly, they get tired of dealing with people who don't know very much but purport the opposite.

At this point in my career, I can walk into about any physical / functional problem solving situation or scenario and make a positive contribution.  I've been doing it for the last 10 years as an Independent Contractor. I don't have to know the business or the technology or be an expert in the area.  The ability to problem solve is transferable, universal and knows no boundaries of field, vocation or geography.

And I guess that's the thing that has impressed me the most about being an Engineer over the last few years.

I've realized that all that anal retentiveness, making lists and plans and approaching everyday in a somewhat organized and methodical way....

Has its advantages.

It puts me way ahead....

Of those that don't.

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