Are You an Engineer?
“What are you going to do when you grow up?”
Perhaps the most irritating question a child hears and the one adults like to ask. Most children don’t have a clue, and why should they? Life is beautiful and anyway there’s plenty of time. But there’s one profession that is guaranteed to make its mark early, and that’s engineering. Watch a child stack the LEGO® up, break open a Meccano™ set, or build a model airplane and you know there’s an engineer in the making.
It’s a great shame that where modern engineering started, in Europe and the US, children are losing interest in the subject. Fortunately there are plenty of other places, Asia for example, where engineering is top of the popularity stakes. I believe that people in the West take the marvels of engineering for granted and, worse, regard engineering as an unimaginative pastime that somebody else should be doing. Provided, of course, that they can buy the next model of mobile phone or take Eurostar through the channel tunnel — two marvels of modern engineering.
Petrotechnical Experts Career Planning Manager
A Family of Engineers
In case you hadn’t guessed, I am an engineer. It doesn’t stop there. My father was an engineer and my two grandfathers were engineers — in fact all three worked in the same factory designing and manufacturing steam turbine units to generate electricity. Pictures attest to the giant machines they produced and the incredible number of workers contributing in those days to the finished product.
In fact it seems that all my ancestors were engineers, at least back to 1805 when records get a little vague. And my son is an engineer. I spend many moments explaining to my father the wonders of the mobile phone and the channel tunnel, although he died more than 20 years ago. He would be amazed to see these things. He loved engineering and was lucky enough during World War II to be involved in Sir Frank Whittle’s team building the first jet engine prototypes.
Used with permission of the Commissioners of Irish LightsTuskar Rock lighthouse in Ireland. The Edmundson family designed the lighting system for this and may other lighthouses.
In 1805, my family was settled in Dublin, Ireland, and for reasons that are a mystery, developed a successful business building lighthouses. Their real edge was providing the lighting system, starting with a patented lens and light produced by burning oil. The lenses were gradually improved and electricity replaced oil. The family business supplied lighthouses all round the coast of Ireland, and then overseas. They sold their business in about 1900, but the new owners kept the name. To this day Edmundson’s Electrical Limited supplies electrical parts up and down Ireland and Britain with lorries emblazoned with our family name.
I have always wondered whether during the seven generations of engineers that separate the lighthouse builders from me and my son, engineering somehow entered the family genes. It would explain the consistency. It would mean that future Edmundsons would also be predisposed to pursue engineering. I wonder what Charles Darwin would say about that in his theory of evolution. We’ve certainly survived, but are we the fittest? That’s an engineering joke.