The fate of the engineer is that there are few times that society, usually through the press, ask you to comment on things. This is all well and good, considering engineers do not like to make public comments, unless one is an engineer in sales, then you can’t stop him from talking. But, for the most part, engineers are quite content in the background, doing what they do best, serving our society by providing clean water, transportation, electricity, vehicles, etc.

The only time that engineers are typically engaged in public conversation is when something goes wrong. If a bridge falls down, levees fail, a pipeline leaks, there is a blackout, or there is any overwhelming natural disaster that people think engineers should have planned for and built countermeasures for, then, and only then is the engineer “asked” for an opinion. This is usually in the form of accusation, but we, as engineers, are used to that. We are here to serve. Engineers prefer to never be asked questions. Let us do the job. If a disaster has occurred, then engineers will analyze it, and suggest those making the monetary decisions how to make a re-occurrence highly unlikely. Along with that, let engineers provide the service they do.

It is not only disasters that this interest by the public causes people to comment on engineering things. I put it this way. Since I am in highway engineering, I have noticed that when I mention what I do to people, their response usually is something like: “Hey, what is wrong with that light on Main and 2nd Street?” or “Why is that sign and the lines on the road all messed up when you drive out of town on Locust Road?” and a lot of similar questions. I have yet to hear what an engineer would like to hear. Something that goes like this: “You are an engineer for our roads? Thank you. Oh, thank you, wonderful engineer, for providing such an advanced highway system for our society so that my family can travel all over this fine city, state and nation. Thank you, kind, serving engineer, for designing and building a transportation network that most countries can only dream of, for our society to use. You, engineer, should be admired and lauded.”

An engineer can have dreams, too.