How engineers think?
Have you every thought of this is an interesting question? How do you as an engineer describe your way of thinking? This may sound a weird question since you do it naturally but in fact there is a way engineers usually do use to think. In this article, we will try to shed three basic ideas engineers’ minds are typically applying without notice.
Thinking of surroundings as systems
This idea is the core of the engineer’s mindset. Thinking of surroundings as systems basically means that things are subject to deconstruction (breaking into smaller modules) and construction (putting the smaller modules back together).
The main attention is given towards determining the weak and strong links. Thinking how the smaller modules can work together or do not fit or may fit. Then, to apply the knowledge to build/engineer useful and applicable outcomes.
Of course, the systems way of thinking varies with contexts. Engineering a tower is different from coding a software. Engineering works in different ways and systems can vary even in the same industry.
3 Treats of the Engineer’s Mind
1. Engineer can visualize a structure where nothing is visible
Our world is based on structures. I guess you have heard that a talented composer can hear a tone even before it has put down on a score. Similarly, a good engineer is capable of visualizing structures relying on a set of combined rules and models. The engineer’s minds is attracted to the unseen; not just the seen.
The systems thinking would need to visualize the components of the system are working in line with each other, logically, sequentially, functionally, and so on. What conditions are suitable for the system to work and when it may fail.
A historian may apply this sort of logical thinking way after something has already occurred, but an engineer needs to do it before the system exists and constructed in reality. This is one main reason why engineers build models that simulates the process before the actual execution of systems. Essentially, imagining a system requires having some wisdom to know when a system is valuable, and when it isn’t.
2. Engineers are experienced at designing under constraints
Sure, the world around us has plenty of constraints that either create or end potential. The nature of engineering involves a far greater pressure than other professions. Constraints try to prevent engineers from stepping forward. However, they do not have the chance to just wait until the constraint is understood or resolved. Engineers are expected to come up with the best possible solution and outcomes under the specific conditions at hand.
In fact, even if everything is smooth and no constraints exist, engineers impose constraints themselves to assist with achieving their goals. For example, constraints of time, finance and resources are often applied to help improve the outcome.
3. Working with Trade-offs
Trades-offs refers to the ability to think of alternative ideas in your mind and take a thoughtful judgment. Engineers prioritize goals and allocate the required resources depending on the priority and impact of a goal. For example, consider the design of an aircraft. Multiple trade-offs are involved to make a good balance between cost, weight, dimensions, performance, etc. Trade-offs usually exists and inescapable to achieve what’s possible and what’s desirable.
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