Blog Post 1: Versatility

Blog » Blog Post 1: Versatility

Posted on 05 Feb 2013 02:56

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To me, thinking like an engineer means thinking outside of the box. It is a task that requires critical and analytical thinking and an alertness of the mind. Thinking like an engineer requires a creativity in brainstorming and troubleshooting with a precision that is able to pinpoint the best course of action. However writing like an engineer is an altogether different story. Whereas the mind of an engineer might be likened to a controlled detonation—an explosion that leads to the liftoff of a spaceship, perhaps—writing like an engineer is much more similar to separating a solute from solution. Methodical and tactful.

The cause for this is that in his work, an engineer must exhibit the utmost precision and care in the matters he oversees. A single error (in mathematics or syntax) could possibly define the difference between the success and failure of a project. And so the writing of an engineer must reflect the process of condensing the firestorm in the mind into cool blue ink: a final piece of writing should be direct, technical, and concise when required. When required.

On a day to day basis I can see it being entirely necessary to be conservative when writing. Emails to business associates, instructions on projects, and similar do not require the flamboyance that something such as a book might. However, if an engineer sought to reach a larger, more public audience—an audience outside the bounds of his firm or circle of colleagues—it would be incredibly necessary to employ techniques typically forgone and take on a more simplistic tone. So, typically an engineer must be technical and precise in his writing, but when the occasion requires, it can never be a bad thing to be flexible.

How did I come to this conclusion—that an engineer’s writing must be versatile? First and foremost, the very nature of an engineer requires versatility. Any engineer must be proficient in a range of disciplines from calculus to physics to biology to chemistry. Secondly, versatility is necessary for communication and the spread of ideas. Some of the most prominent figures in science are those who were able to relate their thoughts to a greater public. I personally was entranced by physics by Michiu Kakku, but others like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are world-renowned thanks to their willingness to communicate.

Currently through my writing, I am trying to diversify as much as possible. I do not yet see a need for the constricting precision that will later be required of me. To be honest, I’m not even sure yet if I am able to write “like an engineer”, I’m not sure I would be able to restrict myself to the directness that is required. Writing devoid of creativity, which is what I see an engineer employing, frankly seems a bit boring to me. I enjoy being wordy and intricate—something I feel typically has no place. However, I hope this semester to realize my potential in “writing like an engineer” and whether or not it is something I’m able to do.

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