Back in the day, when videoconferencing (think video chat in 2019) was new and exciting, my colleague, Renee, and I were working at Lawrence Livermore National Lab advancing that technology and, as part of an LLNL community outreach program, visiting Elementary and Middle Schools in area to show this new technology and answer student’s questions about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
At these assemblies, the most asked question by students was:
“What is the most important course I need to study to be an Engineer?”
The answer we gave to the questioner is one that shocked everyone: Students, Teachers, and Administrators.
Certainly Math is important, Science is important, and a myriad of engineering-specific college classes are important and, by the way, need to be passed to graduate and become a real-world, working, engineer.
But once you are working as an engineer, you quickly discover that the ideal-world of engineering is significantly different than the real-world you are now experiencing. All the classes you took in college are your foundation, but, depending on your job, you most certainly will not use them all. For example, for me, Calculus has been dropped from memory. I never used it as an engineer….never. But Boolean Algebra is still in the brain. 🙂
That said, there is one course (or skill) that you will need, and one that I used everyday almost all day long starting with my first post-graduate job at AT&T Bell Labs in Holmdel New Jersey. EVERY engineer will use this skill on a daily basis be they in research, design, implementation, or testing. And they will use it in every phase of the project…..from idea concept to project conclusion. In other words, a real-world engineering day will be filled using this skill.
In fact, I am using that skill right now.: Writing my thoughts on “paper” while presenting my ideas, findings, and conclusions to you in a (somewhat) logical, (hopefully) meaningful, manner.
The ability to WRITE is the single most important skill you will need as a working day-to-day engineer.
Look at the featured image. Those are some of my writings (documentation) kept as I progressed through my career. 🙂
Check these out:
This is interesting….I will spend time looking for more! 🙂