A. Do you want fries with that?
That was the joke when I was at uni. Back in the early 90s, if you wanted to get yourself a job after university, you did a sensible degree – like engineering. It was generally assumed that if you were (foolishly) inclined to choose an arts-inspired major instead, you were headed for a career in teaching.
We engineers congratulated ourselves on how practical we were, how good at problem-solving. ‘Engineering teaches you to think’ we were told.
Engineering, however, seems to attract a particular type of thinker – logical and linear – and so, of course, this approach is perpetuated through your studies and even once you enter the workforce because you are surrounded by linear logic.
Logical and linear is undoubtedly useful when it comes to getting things done. The problem is that critical thinking isn’t really a part of the training and so the tendency is to keep solving things the same way you have done – logically and linearly.
As you may be aware (!) we have a couple of fairly major crises that need solving – end of civilisation and so on. Engineers have such a capacity to be a part of that change. They (we?) influence almost every part of the physical world.
“We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. (Albert Enstein)
To come up with the best solutions, engineering logic needs to be combined with true collaboration, holistic systems thinking, and a creative design approach. Combine the best of the arts with the best of engineering and we might have a chance.