Engineering parents don’t tell their kids to study engineering for lots of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that they don’t understand what engineers do. There aren’t really any television shows that explain it. It’s not sexy enough for Hollywood. There really just isn’t much information to the general public unless they are looking for it. I know I didn’t have much access to this info before seeking it out. And I know how it feels to have people nicely shake their heads and smile when I explain what I do at parties.
So I’ve decided part 2 of the “What the world needs” series here will be more references to engineering in popular culture. It can be advertising in any form (as in “Any press is good press”). People talking about engineering and what the heck they do might inspire some to go out and find out more. They might start reading blogs about engineering (dream on Chris). How might this stuff get into the mainstream? Well, comics of course! And no, not Dilbert. I choose XKCD for my mainstream weapon of choice. If you have never read the site, I insist that you go there immediately and read as many backlogged comics as possible. The author has a great grasp of mathematics, science, love and life. Bringing focus onto engineering/science/nerdy culture can only do good things for the profession and encouraging kids to explore if they would enjoy the work.
A note about the comics on XKCD, always be sure to mouse over the comics to get the “hidden message” which extends the sarcasm and awesomeness of the comic itself. Without further ado, my new favorite XKCD:
(If you don’t quite get it, current is defined in the opposite direction of how electrons actually flow thanks to Ben Franklin. This can get REALLY confusing when working with electronics, but eventually you learn to deal with it. Eventually.)