Why Did I Choose to Become an Engineer?

Why did I choose to become an engineer? For many reasons, I’ll go over, but the main reason was because of my fascination with technology.

A lot of what I was already doing in my free time aligned with what engineers do too. So it was a no-brainer.

But let’s rewind further back in my history.

I made the choice to become an engineer from a young age. This was of course after I realized I wasn’t tall and skilled enough to play in the NBA.

After my dream of playing in the NBA faded, I locked myself in on engineering.

I know though, not everyone locks in on a profession from an early age.

For this reason, I’m going to go over every reason that pulled me into engineering. This may then help nudge you into becoming an engineer. Or maybe, it may push you away from becoming an engineer.

Either way, both decisions are totally okay.

#1 Fascination with science and technology as a kid 

astronaut in futuristic spaceship

Growing up, I read a lot of science fiction books. I loved reading about space travel with new-age spacecraft. Spacecraft that effortlessly traveled from one end of a galaxy to the other.

In my readings, my mind went through a wormhole. I went from everyday reality to an alternate universe.

I daydreamed how cool it’d be to travel in spacecraft and leave Earth. Then travel into deep space with awesome futuristic tech gadgets by my side.

In short, I had become obsessed with space.

At the same time, I read a lot of science books too. I found it fascinating to learn about why and how things worked in a certain way.

My fascinations at one point led me to want to become a NASA astronaut more than anything. In fact, my dad and I used to set up a large telescope in our backyard when I was 9 or 10 years old.

We’d endlessly gaze into the night sky and I loved it. This is how I found out gazing into the night was mesmerizing and also humbling.

To top it off, my dad would get his hands dirty in all types of work himself. He would take apart and fix TVs, computers, AC units, and much more.

Naturally, this piqued my interest in hands-on work. And hands-on work is a critical component of engineering work.

All this combined directed me towards pursuing a field in engineering.

#2 My math skills

I was great at math from a very young age.

My dad instilled in me the great importance of learning math as far back as I can remember.

So, in all my math classes, I always already knew the material before the teacher explained it.

On that note, math helps shape an analytical mind. And an analytical mind is the cornerstone of how engineers think.

Thus, this became another marker on why I chose to become an engineer.

To point out though, engineers don’t use too much math in their day-to-day work.

#3 My jobs as a teenager 

I’ve always liked designing things.

In my teens, I was doing a lot of hands-on type work. I was working on circuits and various mechanical parts of machines.

Like my dad did, I would take things apart to see what’s inside. I wanted to see how things worked. But also sometimes, I repaired equipment.

I thought it was all very cool.

But the circuits and electricity were higher up levels of cool to me at the time. Electricity alone was such a mystifying natural power to me. I instantly became hooked.

And to this day, electricity and magnetism strike me with a feeling of awe.

This was another step that drove me towards becoming an electrical engineer.

Plus, I found out the way I thought was how engineers thought. Naturally then, a light bulb goes off in your head that engineering is a good career choice.

Important Note: most engineers had the foundation of an engineering mindset growing up. Thus, you approach problems in a certain way. 

You can further nurture your mindset by learning from the following:

#4 Engineering work is fun

lego man
Photo Credit: Alice Gu

To get it out the way, when I say ‘fun,’ I’m not talking about going down a waterslide type of fun. Even though engineering can be this exhilarating at times, as off the wall as that may sound.

Just trust me!

But more so, I became captivated by engineering-type work.

When I did engineering-type projects growing up, I remained hooked. It was as if I was watching a thrilling blockbuster action movie.

That said, I find solving problems and discovering new things to be fun.

Learning how things work and then building new things is enjoyable to me. It doesn’t even matter what I’m building, for the most part.

It’s the same feeling you get when you build with Legos. You lose track of time, as you carefully build the most awesome structure. You brainstorm, analyze, and carefully plan the placement of each Lego piece.

Another analogy to engineering work I like to use is treasure hunting. You poke around everywhere on an island looking for the buried treasure.

The pursuit hooks you as you’re filled with excitement and intrigue. You get the same feeling as you search for an engineering solution.

Finally, I loved solving puzzles in video games for as long as I can remember. For those familiar, one of my favorite temples in Zelda Ocarina of Time was the Water Temple.

As a kid, I loved the puzzles where you had to raise and lower the water levels.

It’s one reason I’ve found that most all engineers grow up playing video games to some degree.

All in all, I’ve always equated solving puzzles with having a good time.

#5 Leave a dent in the world

In 1985, in a Playboy interview, Steve Jobs once famously said,

“At Apple, people are putting in 18-hour days. We attract a different type of person — a person who doesn’t want to wait five or 10 years to have someone take a giant risk on him or her. Someone who really wants to get in a little over his head and make a dent in the universe. We are aware that we are doing something significant. We’re here at the beginning of it and we’re able to shape how it goes. Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.”

However you want to interpret his words, they’re impactful. The mantra of leaving a dent in the universe had stuck with me growing up. The words gave me a greater purpose.

Now that said, I found inspiration through many people growing up. This includes sports stars. But also, inventors, engineers, and mathematicians.

One figure specifically, inspired me a lot. Nikola Tesla!

Learning about all his accomplishments was beyond fascinating to me. Just seeing how a single man impacted the world to such a degree was amazing.

I knew Tesla had gone through several years of engineering education too. Plus, his real-world work was a blend of engineering and science. This alone shows how engineers and scientists have a lot in common.

But I digress.

These influential figures all helped further nudge me in the direction of engineering.

I figured I could better the world through my work. More specifically, help people through my designs.

Important Note: don’t pursue engineering for outside recognition. In other words, trying to solely leave a dent in the universe to find validation. 

Because it’s an empty pursuit when your heart isn’t in your work for selfless reasons. Even more, the truth behind leaving a legacy after death isn’t pretty

This idealogy follows along with my conveyer belt analogy of life

#6 Flexibility career-wise

Right before I selected my major as a senior in high school, I looked deep into the future.

I thought about what I’d like to be doing 10 and then 20 years down the line. The first answer that popped into my mind was obviously doing engineering work.

At the same time, I wanted more. I wanted to also get my hands dirty in starting businesses too.

All the while, I didn’t want to handcuff myself to a single industry. Certain education fields can do this to you if you’re not careful.

Thus, the best and easy choice for me was engineering. Engineering offered me the following benefits:

  • Minimal student loan debt
  • Minimal years of formal education
  • Great flexibility to pivot to other types of work and industries
  • Improved analytical thinking
  • Less likely to become pigeonholed to a career like becoming a Medical Doctor

And you know what, the worst-case scenario wasn’t too bad. Engineering was a great cushy fallback plan.

#7 Good pay, stability, and job security

making money as an engineer

I didn’t think too much about pay, stability, and job security.

These were secondary benefits to my passion though, which I was well aware of. I’m not going to lie.

You can make a decent middle-class income as an average engineer. Then if you’re good at what you do, the sky is the limit.

In the end, though, you can make great money in almost ANYTHING  you do. You just need a deep-rooted passion. Not to forget to mention, you need to have a sprinkle of business savviness too.

But to point out, you’re not going to be ballin’ as an average engineer. Far from it!

What’s more, competition from globalization and artificial intelligence is increasing every year. So, having some semblance of interest in engineering is critical.

Important Note: I don’t recommend going into engineering for money alone. You’ll fizzle out, and you’ll never be able to maximize your career. 

Because even a slight interest in engineering will allow you to level up as an engineer. Only then, you can pursue the big bucks. 

The other route is to work as an engineer for a couple of years, and then move into the business side of things.

“Why did I choose to become an engineer” wrap up

I knew from a young age I wanted to become an engineer. Or at the very least, do things that engineers do.

Because I’m an engineer even when I’m not at work.

Now to switch lanes, over the years, I’ve discovered something that’s surprising to me. I’ve realized engineering is NOT about any degree or any number of letters after your name.

Yes I know, for some it is.

But my point is, it’s more about your desire to find solutions to problems. You can do this on a large billion-dollar project site, or in the basement of your parent’s house.

What matters most is your passion for your craft. Burning the midnight oil day after day, as you passionately try to solve a problem.

A problem that may one day change the world, or maybe you’re just scratching the proverbial itch. In the end, a curious mind is a powerful mind. Albert Einstein famously said,

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Why did you choose to become an engineer? Would you change anything about your career choice, with what you know now?

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