Professional Engineers do not limit their knowledge to what is directly relevant in their field. While the benefits may not be immediately obvious, having a broad knowledge of many diverse subjects will open your mind to new ideas, perspectives, and understandings of the way our complex world works.
My ideal career in Engineering is one in sales. I would like to combine my technical experience with my love of communication science to solve complex problems for clients. Since my clients will be coming from vastly different backgrounds, companies, and industries, having a broad general knowledge of the world around is critical for success. I would like to work in an office where engineers are continually pushing themselves to understand more about the world and having a base of general education will give me the opportunity to be who I’d like to be around.
My engineering coursework has trained me well in concrete problem solving skills and understanding complex mathematical and physical concepts. The work we produce, however, is meant for people. People do not operate like computers do, and we cannot treat them as so. My general education coursework has trained me on solving abstract, unbounded problems such as designing for humans. I’ve learned to communicate effectively, how to read an audience, and how to design effectively for different cultures. Along the way, I have developed a passion for design perfectionism and simplicity in how I communicate.
It is rare that a project we work on as engineers will not have to take international differences into account. In an increasingly globalized economy, the freedom we have received as engineers comes with the cost of learning how to design in an accommodating way. Not only internationally, but within our own country’s economic differences, failing to understand how to reach diverse audiences is a recipe for failure. My general education courses have come nowhere near to preparing me for every audience I encounter. What they have taught me, however, is how to realize differences and research how I will accommodate for those who will use my design in a different context than I would.
We, as engineers, commonly fall into states of laser focus in our work. While this allows us to achieve great feats of design, too much focus can harm our projects as we fail to acknowledge the external factors that can influence its success. General Education classes are a great way to start exploring the diversity around us and learn to understand how our work fits into a bigger picture.