Doing It Like An Engineer

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Posted on 01 Feb 2013 02:31

I see civil engineering as a job where I’ll constantly be writing memos, reports, inspections, and design reviews. Within all these pieces, the communication of technical ideas, facts and figures is key in any engineering field through these mediums. Therefore, I can imagine that the nature of the pieces of writing engineers produce is extremely technical. To elaborate, I believe that these pieces would not be written abstractly; in fact, I’m sure that would defer the purpose of any piece written by an engineer. Instead, the pieces created by any field in engineering would probably have to be direct, unbiased, and straight to the point. As a civil engineer especially, writing concisely is probably vital to getting huge construction and design jobs done quickly and efficiently. Not only do civil engineers have to keep their writing precise, the facts and figures in it have to be correct as well.

Think about it like this: I’m a civil engineer (well, that’s the plan for 10 years from now anyways). I need to write a memo to the construction workers to modify the plans to a building whose construction is underway. If that memo does not have clear, precise instructions on what to do or if the information presented on it were not accurate, it would either be useless, incomprehensible, or cause a catastrophic disaster, neither of which is wanted.

To be honest, my train of thought isn’t anything radical. I’ve always imagined that the engineering fields would require precision and technicality. Engineers have to approach situations from practical standpoints and find solutions. For example, if I wanted to build a house in a 3rd world country, I can’t just order the supplies and get a design to be built right away. There are so many other things I’d need to consider! First, I’d need to survey the land, think about the cost of materials and labor, and all the other kinks and fine details. Then I can get construction underway. I feel that this demonstrates that engineering is a field that really cannot afford recklessness, literally. From this idea, I can conclude that like the actual projects that need to be developed, the written pieces accompanying these projects would need to be carefully developed and created.

I really like to write informally and personally. Seriously! To me, my writing is most interesting and engaging when it seems like the words are something that I would say. Unfortunately, engineering doesn’t ask for this. I can’t put down the causal thoughts in my head onto a formal report, that’d be counterintuitive and pointless. It’s actually really interesting, despite my heavy affinity towards the actual work engineers do, my affinity towards writing informally is basically useless. I’ll have to draw from the other side of my writing ability, the side where I have to write formally and factually. I do believe that I am less adept at writing technical pieces, but I suppose that with a little experience, it’s something I’ll learn to write them just as well as non-technical pieces.

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