The Engineering Mindset

Blog » The Engineering Mindset

Posted on 04 Feb 2013 20:47

Growing up with many engineers in my family, I would always hear that “engineers think differently.” To me, this means thinking innovatively to solve problems. Creative ideas particular to the person, solving problems with limited resources and completing projects efficiently are all part of this picture. Engineers carry the mindset of “How can I make this better?” on and off the job. When thinking about this notion, I can best describe it as “un-cookie cutter.” Just as you cannot pinpoint exactly what makes an engineer, it is difficult to say exactly what type of writing they will use in their careers because it will be different for each individual.

In the field of Biomedical Engineering, this style of thinking corresponds to the kinds of writing done in the career. As Biomedical Engineering is a compilation of Electrical, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering as well as medical and biological principles, each engineer tends to have a particular main focus with emphasis in one of these. Some include therapeutics, biotechnology, medical devices and diagnostics. Since the field it self has much flexibility the types of writing done by two separate biomedical engineers will vary. Also, this is true because the job of a Biomedical Engineer (BME) may vary as some BME jobs include designing instruments, devices, and software, bringing together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures and some conduct research to understand the human body and solve clinical problems. Based on what the objective of their work is, the writing done will differ. A common thread that any BME will need is the writing, recording and explanation of the work they are doing. This writing can be in the form of a lab report, published essay, instructional manuals and even power point presentations.

I have come to the understanding that writing and thinking like a professional come after experience. “Professionalism,” does not come from a diploma or award per se, but comes from the application of knowledge and experience of work in the particular to the field. I have seen this in particular at an American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) meeting I attended one month ago. I saw a presentation on a local highway project, and out of about 200 people in the room, I was the only non-engineer. Although I felt intimidated being there, I begin to start conversation with the engineers at the table, and one of the first things I noticed was the degree of professionalism and conversation amongst them. When the presentation began, I noticed this in the speaker, as well as in the writing of the program. They used scholarly language and terms, but never too much that I did not understand; it seemed to be the perfect mix. I noticed great explanation and support in the presentation and writing in the program. Also in this conference, the greatest thing that I noticed was the organization of the topic, presentation, writing, and delivery of the overall civil engineering event. Although I am not a Civil Engineering major, at this conference I learned about the types of skills and writing required in this professional field, and I can also very much assume the same skill and operation about how biomedical engineering presentations would be conducted.

This conference especially allowed me to see first hand the application of writing skills in effect in the professional world. If I were to put myself into the speaker’s shoes, I wonder how I would do! I spectacle if I will have the skills the speaker had in order to complete his presentation. Some of the skills I saw needed which I think I have as a writer were organization, clarity in explanation, appropriate support for an argument and oral presentation of material. As a writer, I see myself always seeking to make my writing different in some way, and always trying to improve. I have a habit of trying to never have two pieces of writing be the same in purpose and composition, but always making everything unique and different from the other pieces. I feel like my strengths in writing coincide with notion of “thinking like an engineer,” because I see myself applying the same mindset to my writing assignments.

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