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Thanks for the inspiration!

October 15, 2009
So one of my professors sends an email out to everyone in several different classes urging us to pay attention in class or we’re “in the wrong major” and as motivation links to a popular consumer product.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m all for paying attention in class. But I think linking to some consumer product that was likely made by a talented inventor is not necessarily what most people go into engineering for. If you already have those skills, you don’t need the motivation. And if you don’t have spontaneous million-dollar-idea skills, the things that might thrill you are things like this or this or this or this.
Maybe that’s the problem with science and engineering. People get the idea there’s some sort of quick fix out there, that you can develop oxyclean and become a millionaire. They miss how cool developing something is, even a small subsystem of an overall more impressive project. And that’s what the engineers my university educates will likely be doing. So why do professors continue to mislead? Either I hear about that, or they talk about the workplace like it’s some kind of ’90s style “no bad idea” laid back atmosphere when in reality it’s a lot more paperwork and drudgery, but the payoff comes in the thousands of unique and considerable pieces of hardware being developed for all sorts of purposes. I think they miss their target, as well as fail to prepare students, when they present the world in this way.
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