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Engineering Is Engineering as monotonous and "boring" as suggested?

  1. Aug 28, 2016 #1
    Greetings, users of this forum. I am long time browser and new-member on this website, as such please accept my apologies for any of the likely mistakes i have made in not following protocol in posting this thread and the shortcomings and ignorance i currently possess due to my lack of familiarity with forums.

    For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about, and fascinated with, all of aspects and features of technology, and the many facets that are encompassed within it. I thrive, and always have, in learning about the functionalities of all these systems, whether they may be Mechanical, Electrical, Aerospace et cetera. This, in combination with the "fact" that I possess some aptitude in understanding said systems it seemed only logical to attempt to pursue a career in Engineering as it is/was my primary interest. However, I have "recently" (more accurately within the past couple of years) been informed that Engineering as a profession is very much unlike the image portrayed to the public, many of the Engineers whom I have spoken to are unhappy in their current positions and feel constricted by the lack of creativity and ingenuity that they are allowed to apply in their respective design processes for which they have been made responsible, hence the reference to the work being monotonous.

    Is this true? I am aware that the movies are the movies and that they could never be completely representative of the truth, but is it so far from the truth that what I would consider to be "Engineering" doesn't even qualify to termed so? In all the books I've read and the documentaries I've watched about the work of great people throughout history: the profession of Engineering as shown as being very dynamic and exciting, from Tesla's invention of the Induction motor, Neon lighting and the coil of his namesake (and the inspirations that led to said inventions) to the competitive ingenuity during the space race. Is my starry-eyed view of the wonder of invention and development of technology as invalid as it is made out to be? Is Engineering really as uninspired as others made it out to be?

    The reason why I have brought this up now of all times is due to the fact that I am required at this moment in time to decide on a direction in which i intend to follow in reference to my chosen career path, my parents have tempted me with other career choices that could be seen as more lucrative or "rewarding" but I feel uncomfortable at the thought of abandoning Engineering as I still have hope in what it represents and what can still be done.

    Apologies for the long post, any assistance that you can offer will be greatly appreciated, it is at this point in my life that I must defer to people with a significant advantage in wisdom, experience and insight than I possess
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2016 #2


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    If you are looking for a "not boring" job, then engineering (along with most other research-related jobs) is a good choice. You won't invent something revolutionary every day, and you probably won't invent something as revolutionary as the induction motor in your whole career, but it is still a field where you learn and invent new things frequently. Freedom in the design choices can depend on the position.
  4. Aug 28, 2016 #3
    Thank you for the response, I know that I could never achieve something as substantial and revolutionary as Tesla or Von Braun, I can only aspire to get somewhere close! I see what you mean, logically there are "good" and "bad" job positions within all professions :)
  5. Aug 28, 2016 #4


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    If you really love engineering you'll find a way to have a job that allows you to enjoy it enormously, and that's not all that hard to do.
  6. Aug 28, 2016 #5
    Thanks :)
  7. Aug 28, 2016 #6
    Many years ago I was told this, & I've come to believe it myself: the Engineering curriculum teaches one to do one thing, and that is to solve problems. Survive those four years and your brain, thinking, and attitude changes. Industries want universities to keep pumping out problem solvers because they have problems to solve.

    Is the working world of Engineering glamourous, thrilling, & exciting? It can be, but IMHO mostly not. I've worked in glamourous sounding industries (aerospace, nuclear energy, automotive, electronics, robotics, others) and the problems to solve are regularly mundane. Many times the job is simply that one is a small cog in a giant machine. Evaluating options and selecting the best approach. Sometimes the best approach is a selection from a list of cookbook methods whose purpose is to not be innovative or creative, but to produce a suitable solution and effectively manage an expensive organizational cost (the Engineering employee). Little thinking or creativity is involved, but one must be able to evaluate options effectively.

    Most of my career was in manufacturing and I found that very interesting. Being stuck in a "Design Box" all day long never suited me. I like the pace, action, and variety of the manufacturing environment. Involved with production support, I wasn't constrained (not usually, anyway) to rigorous design standards or requirements like would exist in automotive or pharmaceutical workplaces. I was (for example) a Process Development Engineer and it was my job to develop that process the best way I could. Generally interesting work, creative, built a sense of ownership, and when successful I could afford a bit of prideful thinking. Many times, though, I was under pressure to hurry up and get it done and never mind the elegant solution or never mind completing to 100%, the company needed a good-enough 80% solution in order to keep the machinery running. Keep in mind the old adage of: Engineers are Physicists, but with deadlines and budget constraints. Choices and compromises have to be made regularly, some are not pleasant. But it pays the bills.

    The end of that particular life terminated with a R&D gig: a hard slog that lasted five years, very deep analysis, testing, prototyping, and proof-of-concept work that resulted in a patent of dubious value.

    It can be interesting, fun, creative, thrilling. And dangerous, scary, frustrating, and mind-numbingly boring. Kinda like life in general.
  8. Aug 28, 2016 #7
    This was my primary concern, i understand that because systems are becoming more complex: less innovation and development is done by the individual, and each individual is required to be focused on a very small, albeit not insignificant, part of the design/system
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