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©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou
Updated Jan-01-2000

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Perfect Imperfection

©1999 Zhan Huan Zhou, Fall 1998, Issue 5

In a perfect world, life would be pretty dull. Final examinations would be pointless as everyone would get 100%. There would be no thrill of taking a chance because everything would just work out as planned. To put a new analogy to an old concept, what would happen when the perfect pitcher faced the perfect hitter? The universe would explode and we have what the world as we know it where the world is filled with imperfections and mistakes. Mistakes unfairly invoke a negative connotation among individuals. Mistakes shake your life, it shakes other peoples lives, it shakes the world and ultimately shakes the future.

Sometimes big mistakes serve as an example to the world. For instance, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Challenger and Chernobyl are immortalized in history as examples of the worse engineering miscalculations of the twentieth century. The disaster and media hoopla that surrounded these events undoubted haunted the engineers involved for years. Theses three incidents, however, do serve a purpose. The world is a safer place because of these three dramatic disasters. Civil and mechanical engineers now know the importance of resonant frequencies when building a bridge. Aerospace engineers are now extra careful to ensure that there are no fuel leaks. Safety precautions in nuclear power plants have increased. The perils of Ontario Hydro are peanuts when compared to Chernobyl.

Now, this isnít a message telling you to go about doing everything wrong on purpose. This is a message telling you not to be afraid of making mistakes and not to brood over them. Mistakes happen, it helps to shape your life. In your career, you will undoubtedly face many decisions affecting both you and company. Sometimes there isnít a right and wrong choice, but a choice that you must make. Hopefully you will choose wisely and make the best decision. However, you wonít always be right. Learn from your mistakes and let the experience help you grow as an engineer.