Top 5 reasons to be thankful for engineers

It’s that time of the season to give thanks for the things we value, and this year I wanted to give thanks to those of our profession that have made modern life possible – that would be Engineers and here at Texas Instruments, we employ thousands of them.  I capitalize the “E” on purpose to show the importance of this vital career which spans many disciplines including science, physics and math, as well as requiring large amounts of creativity. Engineers fundamentally use these tools to create the modern society we have today and they have been at it for millennia.  So grab a cup of java (made possible by engineers), recline your ergonomically engineered chair, and enjoy my top 5 reasons to thank an Engineer (care of umpteen thousands of engineers). As usual my list is in descending order… so no skipping ahead… OK you can if you want!

Reason #5 – Without Engineers, modern society would not exist.  OK, this sounds a bit harsh to say that if the profession of Engineering didn’t exist, organized society would not as well.  However, large human societies rely on collaboration and without the ability to create a means of mass communication (e.g. printing presses, telegraphs, telephones, televisions, the Internet, wireless data and voice communications, social media, etc.) it would be extremely difficult to organize extreme numbers of humans distributed over large areas into a structure where people share knowledge and work collaboratively.  Communications is the cornerstone of society and without it… well, just ask the ancient Romans how that worked out.

The world without engineers, from our friends at Agilent Technologies

Reason #4 – Without Engineers, food would be scarce. I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving is the one time of the year where I totally indulge my palette and kiss my diet goodbye.  It is fair to say that most of the dishes my wife prepares would not be available if not for refrigeration and large scale transportation – both technologies developed by Engineers.  Additionally, the ability to farm extremely large areas productively would also be impossible if it were not for the machines, chemicals and processes developed by engineers. 

Reason #3 – Without Engineers, productivity would decline.  Since the invention of artificial light, humans have enjoyed extended hours of interaction and production beyond the time afforded by natural daylight alone.  If you can’t see after dark, your priorities shift from interacting and producing to securing and resting.  New York is often called the “city that never sleeps” which is made possible by power generation, transmission and various forms of artificial lighting (incandescent, florescent, neon or LED) designed and maintained by Engineers. So the next time your boss asks you to work overtime, thank an Engineer for making it possible.

Reason #2 – Without Engineers, we wouldn’t live as long.  During the height of the Roman Empire, the average life expectancy (removing infant mortality and war-related deaths) was roughly 45 years. Today the average is closer to 70 years, thanks to medical science and improved nutrition (see reason #4 above).  Technologies such as medical imaging, endoscopic surgery, functional monitoring, as well as a vast array of medicines and related materials have been developed and manufactured by Engineers.  As Engineers develop new technologies in these areas, life expectancies may well exceed 100 years for people born today.

Reason #1 – Engineers make life more fun. Personally, this is my favorite reason to be thankful for Engineers. With all the comforts of modern society and increased productivity made available from reasons 2 through 4, people have more personal time to play. Playing is as important to adults as it is to children for both physical and mental health, and thanks to Engineers there is no shortage of activities to do (or watch) or “things” to play with. Even everyday items such as cellular phones are now capable of playing games, sharing ideas, making memories or helping us invent the next big thing.

So there you have it… my top 5 reasons to be thankful for Engineers.  We are surrounded by the marvels of our age and without the dedication and imagination of Engineers everywhere, our world would be a much different place.  So while you’re enjoying your friends and family this season, don’t forget to thank an Engineer for making your gathering possible! Till next time…

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