Like every other profession out there, engineering has its fair share of misconceptions. An age-old engineering joke goes something like this:
How can you tell between an extroverted engineer and an introverted one?
Introverts will stare at their shoes rather than yours!
This joke is indicative of how people consider engineers as shy individuals who cannot hold a conversation. If an engineer tells such a joke, it is all fine and dandy, but if a non-engineer does, they’re probably trying to make fun of their social skills.
Stereotypes and misconceptions are everywhere. The skills necessary to become a successful engineer add to the proliferation of such misunderstandings. These can range from ‘engineers love role-playing games’ to other general misconceptions such as ‘engineers hate to make eye contact.’
However, if you never had the pleasure of getting to know an engineer personally, oh boy, you are in for a surprise! They are dynamic, three-dimensional beings who love the nitty-gritty of life just like any other professional out there. So without further ado, listed below are a few common misconceptions about engineers we aim to debunk!
Misconception No.1: Engineers stay cooped inside their cubicles
Have you always thought engineers do nothing but sit at their desks and work all day without even moving? Well, you thought wrong! Most, if not all, engineering jobs require the engineer to spend time away from their cubicles, like visiting construction sites, factories, plants, or research labs. But it largely depends on the choice of engineering field. Furthermore, individuals will also have to travel to other countries to work on projects. For example, petroleum engineers regularly visit drilling sites that could be present in any part of the world.
Misconception No.2: Engineers know how to fix everything
If only they had superpowers that would enable them to do so!
People think that engineers can magically bring their dead appliances back to life. Come on! They are engineers, not Jesus! They don’t carry an all-in-one diagnosis book with information about every technical failure in the world, be it bulbs, air conditioning, or even your fridge. Ever seen an engineer fix a broken heart? No, right?
Here’s a more practical understanding of this misconception. An electrical engineer knows the importance of electrical engineering and how to fix circuits for appliances. However, they cannot fix your car or air conditioning just because they carry an engineer’s label. Similarly, a mechanical engineer can repair your vehicle but not your fridge. So, stop annoying your engineering friend by pestering them to fix your fan!
Misconception No.3: The world of engineering is not for women
It’s 2021, and sexism is still a thing?
Both women and men can – and DO – apply for engineering degrees and jobs. It has nothing to do with varying chromosomes. If you are an aspiring female and want to try your hand in the “testosterone-laden” engineering world, take inspiration from Sarah Guppy. She’s a British engineer who holds various patents regarding pilling for bridges.
And don’t forget about Edith Clark, an electrical engineer from the USA. She invented a unique calculator that can quickly solve linear equations ten times faster than other calculators. So, don’t let such stereotypes come in your way of success.
Misconception No.4: An engineer will always stay an engineer
“If you are studying engineering in college, you will have to remain in the same job for the rest of your life,” – said only the worst teachers ever!
It is mindboggling how many companies these days are hiring engineers for various non-engineering roles and positions. Engineering graduates have abilities and skills that other graduates, for instance, a business graduate, lacks. These include logical thinking, numeracy, and problem-solving skills.
For example, business graduates will not necessarily have the know-how to install network equipment around the office now, would they? It is the responsibility of a network architect – who is an engineer. FYI-if you want to know how to become a network architect, a Google search is a few clicks away. It is common nowadays for businesses to hire engineers to work in management, finance, or business-related positions. So, don’t let this misconception stop you from applying for a business-related job opening.
Misconception No.5 Engineers don’t have creativity
Are you using a smartphone at the moment to read this article? Have you heard of the robot, Sophia?
People consider engineers as nerdy, boring individuals who wear t-shirts with checks on them and thick spectacles. Due to this, people obviously perceive them as unimaginative, inspiring individuals. However, if you think an engineer lacks creativity, then you might as well think nobody else in this world is creative!
Engineers regularly think out of the box to solve problems and enhance people’s lives. For example, engineers working on smartphones are working day and night to find ways to make them thinner. Self-driving cars, anyone? These are all the efforts of creative skillful engineers throwing conventional thought processes and solutions out of the window.
Misconception No.6: Engineers are weird individuals
Alright, The Big Bang Theory was a great show. But trust us, engineers aren’t half as weird as that!
Most people perceive an engineer as a nerdy, socially-awkward individual who wants to stay at home all the time with a bunch of tools in his/her hands. However, just like any other profession, both extrovert and introvert individuals exist in the engineering field. And just because engineers don’t participate in conversations does not imply that they hate other people or that all of them are like that. Some engineers take some time to warm up and get comfortable that all. Engineers are just as human as doctors, accountants, business grads, and whatnot.
Furthermore, if you think you will have to skip socializing after becoming an engineer, you are dead wrong! Engineers often deal and communicate with other people such as contractors, clients, technicians, and other engineers. To succeed as one, you will need to acquire good interpersonal and communication skills and be on the same page as other parties.
With most of the engineering misconceptions cleared out today, we hope you have a clearer image of what such a reputable profession truly entails. Always remember one thing though, there are advantages and disadvantages in every job. So, ensure that you do your research on your field of choice before you commit to anything. Don’t let misconceptions, rumors, and unsavory advice cloud your judgment and affect your final decisions. If you are passionate about creativity and innovation and want to make this world a better place for human beings, become an engineer and don’t let anybody stop you.