I think most engineers would argue that they are challenged on a daily basis. That is the function of an engineer, right? Solve a problem.
But many of my conversations with engineers in the appliance world seem to revolve around cost. Yes, there has been discussion of user-focused design and sensor technology, but I think many would agree that in today’s economy, cost is the main focus of most appliance engineers.
Does that really keep you motivated?
Yes, the bottom line is important — and necessary to survive in today’s industry — but I think we all need to be reminded of the bigger picture once in a while. That our jobs are more than just the day to day. That we do matter beyond saving the all-mighty dollar, euro, or yen.
- Make solar energy economical
- Provide energy from fusion
- Develop carbon sequestration methods
- Manage the nitrogen cycle
- Provide access to clean water
- Restore and improve urban infrastructure
- Advance health informatics
- Engineer better medicines
- Reverse-engineer the brain
- Prevent nuclear terror
- Secure cyberspace
- Enhance virtual reality
- Advance personalized learning
- Engineer the tools of scientific discovery
This is huge stuff. And while none of these will most likely appear in your job description, it’s a nice reminder of what engineers can do. That they literally change the world we live in.
Of course, you probably aren’t managing the nitrogen cycle or preventing nuclear terror in your cubicle, but this does include you, the appliance engineer. You help change the world. Don’t underestimate what the dishwasher and microwave have done for today’s lifestyles.
The point here is that changing the world means innovation. And innovation comes from freethinking, right? Outside of the day to day. At least once in a while.
So look beyond your job description. What engineering challenges have you set for yourself? Better yet, what are the grand engineering challenges the appliance industry will have to face next 5, 10, 15 years?
Granted, the list would inevitably include finding a way to make today’s high-tech appliances more affordable. But there is more, isn’t there?