Open Letter to the Engineering Class of 2014

Engineers of Tomorrow, Welcome to the rest of your life.  
As of this moment, you are no longer a student at an institute of higher education, but a co-creator of this world.  You may have noticed: it’s full of problems, full of breakdowns, full of inconsistencies and contradictions – systems that do not work the way they were supposed to, people who have been let down, things that need to be better than they are. 

That iron ring you’re placing on your finger could be many things; a symbol of your victory over academic onslaught, an entrance into an exclusive club of engineering professionals, but we believe it’s also a call to action. You are being called on to build bridges, but not the type that you can build out of concrete and steel.  
You are being called upon to bridge the gap
between the disappointments of the past and the everpresent hope for the future.  

You are being called upon to imagine the world that your heart wants to live in, that your sense of right and wrong says there should be, and then to find yourself a way to help change that idea into a reality.  You are being called upon to use your skills for good; not just for your own enjoyment or profit but also to benefit and take care of others.  
You are being called upon to contribute to something you believe in
– as a member of this professional community and as thinking, feeling citizen of the world.  

How will you choose?  However will you accomplish this lofty and vaguely-defined goal?  How will you know what to do with no one to tell you? Where will you start?  The same way you would walk a journey of 10,000 miles –
one step at a time.  
You’ll need your creativity and imagination every bit as much as your mad math skills.  You’ll need your intuition and empathy as much as your analytical prowess, and your heart as much as your head.  
Up until this moment you were a consumer of knowledge, a navigator of systems, a follower of orders, a passer of really tough examinations.  Your parents and professors seemed to knew more than you; always seemed to have the upper hand.  It may be a while before you assume positions of formal power and influence, but make no mistake:   
you are now one hundred percept in charge of you.  
You will never stop learning and growing but using your curiosity, you will keep creating your own education.  You may not have infinite job offers in your hand, but your inner wisdom will always bring you to the opportunities that are perfect for you.  You may have no idea where you fit in, but your courage to speak up and take action will guarantee you will never be alone.

Take that job you’re not quite sure you can handle.  It’s character-building to fail.  
Try that volunteer opportunity that has you work with people who think nothing like you do.  Learning to honour differences rather than hating them is one of the toughest and most useful skills you’ll ever learn.  
Making diversity into fuel for innovation and revelation is really the only alchemy you will ever need.  
It’s the perpetual motion machine of this world.  
Do that thing you’re scared to do that gives you goosebumps just thinking about.  Try.  Risk telling your truth.  Open your ears when others do the same.  
Dig deep to make a difference, however you can, whenever you can.  

What do you want to do?   The future, in so many ways, depends on you. 
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Engineer Profile #1: The Engines of Democracy with Chris Iskander

Engineer Profile #1:  The Engines of Democracy with Chris Iskander

Hello engineers!  I am really excited to present the first in a series of interviews with engineers who have already done some life design, made some progress in their career and have a story to share.  The subject of the first Engineer Profile is Chris Iskander, mechanical engineer from Toronto Canada.

If you were hoping to collect more data on what fellow engineers are doing, look no further!

The Engines of Democracy with Chris Iskander
(interview run time 20 min – you can right-click to download,  left-click to play in a new window.)

The subject of today’s profile is the multi-talented Chris Iskander, who graduated from the University of Toronto with a Mechanical Engineering degree.  Today he works for Dominion Voting Systems, a company that provides products and services to support elections.

So Chris is responsible for the engines of democracy.  (I like to say so anyway!) Hence the title of this post.  Very timely topic considering tomorrow’s big election in the US, no?

He came on as employee #15 over eight years ago, when the company was just two years old.  He shares the reason that his company survived as a startup, and what he feels their biggest competitive advantage is and what makes him most proud to work there.

It’s really a fantastic interview.  He surprised me with a reference to something we all learned way back in high school.

He took the words right out of my mouth when it comes to true fulfilment in your life and career.

You might be surprised to hear his reasons for ignoring his father’s wishes, or to learn why he had to go to the Phillipines eight times in 2010!

Chris also very generously offered his own approach to making good career decisions.

He offered some tremendous advice to the engineer who is starting out:

“If you’re not happy, don’t internalize it. Don’t make it personal. Don’t let yourself believe it’s something negative about you.”

I’ll be interviewing more inspiring engineers in the weeks and months to come.   We hope you will find these interviews informative, thought-provoking and enjoyable, starting today with adrenaline-loving, often-traveling, highly-risk-tolerant Chris Iskander!

Would love to hear what you think of Chris’ advice or anything else we spoke about in the interview.  Drop me a comment or a tweet.

Engineering involves using both sides of your brain!

 

 

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