©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou
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What Rhymes With Engineer?
©1999 Zhan Huan Zhou, Fall 1997, Issue 2
The day before the deadline for this article, I had no clue what I was going to write about. I took my problem to the all powerful editor-in-chief, Mike Hermann and he said to me something to the effect of: "Donít worry, youíre creative, youíll think of something." For some reason, the words "youíre creative" stuck in my head and got me thinking long enough to be able to write an article about it. No, not about my creativity, but about the creativity of engineers in general, all of you.
Iím not exactly sure where Mike Hermann formulated the conclusion that I was "creative," but I presume it was through the various poems I submitted to The Iron Warrior in the past. Poetry is my creative outlet to the world. I can see two distinct reactions from all of you after reading the previous sentence. The first is "I canít stand poetry!" The second is "You write poetry? Cool!" If your response was neither, well, youíre just weird. Writing poetry seems to be a very common hobby among students, including myself. Personally, I simply enjoy writing because itís fun, but it is particularly rewarding after writing a good poem. Thereís also the fact that I canít draw or do anything else visually creative. Iím sure that there are other people in the same boat as me. Iím equally sure that there are people in the boat on the other side who can make things look fantastic, but couldnít write a poem. Then thereís always that genius who can always do anything, but weíll ignore that person.
At this point youíre probably asking yourself what poetry and art have to do with engineering. For one, it makes you a more rounded person, making you a better engineering as I discussed last issue. More importantly, as an engineer, you will be faced with many problems and challenges everyday, both at school and the work environment. There are some clear-cut problems that can be solved by consulting a textbook, but more often than not, you will need that thing in your skull (your brain) to put together things in a completely original combination to solve the problem at hand.
Think of all the wonderful things that creative engineers have done for you. Civil engineers have made the roads we drive on more durable so we donít have to close the roads for repairs as often. The notebook computer you have is hundreds of times more powerful than the ENIAC, yet only a fraction the weight thanks to electrical engineers. Coming up with a new innovation is strikingly similar to writing a good poem. Itís not something you plan to do. The critical moment comes spontaneously in the middle of nowhere. You donít think about what youíre doing, you simply do. After some mad scrambling you take a look at the end product and say to yourself, "This is a masterpiece." This is perhaps the greatest personal satisfaction one can experience.
So all you engineers out there get out and do something creative. I donít care if itís writing a poem or a C program, just be spontaneous and do something cool and creative. And remember, if you do something creative and innovative at work, you might get a pay raise.