Happiness in Engineering

I saw this meme the other day, and while I appreciate the humor and recognize that some days it does feel like it’s true, it didn’t sit well with me.

Like a true engineer, I thought about it, tried to examine the problem from different perspectives, and I eventually found a solution. That is, happiness is always there for those who know how and where to look for it.

For those who are either learning engineering or working in the field, what aspects of engineering bring you happiness?

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There is nothing like seeing your design or your part of the design come to life at industrial, commercial, etc. scale. It’s even better when it works :sunglasses: It’s even better than that when it works and everyone was skeptical.

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Found another solution to the problem:

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I’m going to have to start using “nappiness”.

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There’s nothing like laughing at some ridiculous design you’ve made years after you made it.

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Addressing the prompt -

I’m a sucker for problem solving. I’m probably happiest when I’m banging my head on the wall on a tough problem that I know I’m capable of solving but don’t see the solution just yet. And then when there’s that eureka! moment, the problem unravels and you get to implement your solution. And there’s satisfaction knowing you did it.

Another aspect of my job that’s very satisfying are all the different industries and technologies I get to see. I do automation engineering and I work for a consulting firm. Lot of different customers, wide variety of industries. In the past few years, I’ve wrote logic for utilities for a major pharma company, I’ve programmed machines that assemble battery packs for an electric car company, I helped installation of new equipment and started up a new facility for a food company, I modified the programs of assembly lines to put finished HVAC units on autonomous mobile robots, I wrote logic to track cans of baby formula down a conveyor, and trigger cameras and scanners, and kick them off if they’re not labeled properly, and I’ve been in a shingle factory configuring new servos and drives.

What’s happiness for me? Not doing the same thing every day. And if there’s a job I don’t enjoy, knowing it’s only temporary and next week I can be working on something different. All with the same employer!

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And the flip side as well…revisiting 20 years later that thing, process, method, whatever that you designed and you find that it’s still in use and working. Even better when you expected it to be a stopgap or temporary approach until there was time and money for a “real” solution.

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Making regular everyday tasks easier for other people.

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I was reviewing changes during a major project with the plant operations representative. He bitterly commented that “every time you engineers come and improve the plant our life gets harder.” Looks like my company could have used a lot more Oblargs. I did respond that he needed to hold the engineers’ feet to the fire until they get it right to his satisfaction.

At another job and new company I visited a plant for troubleshooting chronically irritating old software on existing equipment. An operator commented that he was happy I found the trouble that had been making the operators look foolish for years but there was a bit of a sharp edge to his tone as he continued to say I was the first person from corporate to come and listen to them. That’s two for two companies needing more Oblarg-like employees.

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