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Power of Good Mentorship

August 1, 2011

I’ve been re-watching episodes of Star Trek Deep Space Nine lately. In an episode in season 2, Shadowplay, Commander Sisko is talking to his son Jake about future possible plans to join Starfleet. He encourages his son to start training (sort of an internship) under Chief O’Brien.

To me it seems like the kind of opportunity only fostered in a futuristic sci-fi TV show. But in reality, I bet a lot of engineers had similar mentors in their lives. Sysko confesses his son is in the bottom third of mechanical aptitude and O’Brien admits he was as well. That he didn’t realize his engineering skills until he was on the front and had to make a critical repair.

In a way it’s oddly comforting. I’m not one of those “born an engineer” types though I love it now. I do wonder how many young, aspiring engineers had a Chief O’Brien in their lives. Someone who was an engineer for a living and gave them a pretty good idea of what it was. Or maybe someone who worked in a similar trade. Maybe they taught them a few things and gave them a leg up or a taste of what they might want to do.

Given how many medical dramas there are and how few science or engineering shows, I wonder how many got into the field because of someone they knew growing up or fell into it later and were surprised to learn what it was all about?

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