Becoming a successful and good engineer.
Becoming a good person.
Okay, what gives?
In my present line of work, I love to see an engineering job that is good. That is my target for the engineers and their work that I review. Sure, I’d love to see an outstanding engineer. I’ll settle for good. It seems like a pretty low bar, doesn’t it? Not to be too much of a downer, but most of the engineering work I see isn’t good. I’d love for it to be good. Just this last year I worked on projects in the US, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Colombia, South Africa and Kazakhstan. Some of these countries I visited multiple times during the year. It was rare for me to see engineering that was good.
Not to say that all of their efforts were bad. Certainly not. For sure there were aspects of the work that were at least good. Maybe it’s a case of it just taking one rotten apple to spoil the bunch.
I think I am a good person and a good engineer. If I wasn’t I don’t think my clients would invite me back.
So how do you go from being an engineer to being a good engineer (or, even a great engineer)?
It’s easier to answer how you become a good person. Be kind, generous of your time. Be thoughtful. Be compassionate. Try to keep your emotions on an even keel. Be grateful. Give thanks.
To be a good engineer? That takes more. Be inquisitive. Dig deep. Don’t take things for granted. Don’t let the status quo be good enough unless it truly is good enough.
Listen to people. Listen to your client. I mean really listen.
Be empathetic. Not sympathetic. To be empathetic you have to put yourself into the other person’s shoes.
Learn from as many engineers and project managers as you can.
Do field work. Be happy to work around a drill rig or on a construction site.
Read technical articles.
Try being the engineer you see yourself being 20 years from now.