History is full of famous engineers who inspire people to follow in their footsteps and develop their skills further. Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps one of the most famous engineers in the world, created inventions that were literally centuries ahead of their time. Then there are famous engineers like Thomas Edison, and his invention of the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the kinetoscope that changed the way we live forever.
Many of these famous engineers start out knowing their path in life early on. Thomas Edison for example was an entrepreneur from an early age, and got his start on the path to engineering greatness when he became a telegraph operator during the Civil War. Many iconic figures came from an engineering educational background, for example film-maker Alfred Hitchcock and famous astronaut Neil Armstrong both had degrees in engineering.
So, where will tomorrow’s famous engineers be found and how can they keep motivated to lead by example?
Many of them can probably be found in the classrooms of today, doing what engineers do on a daily basis — using their skills to change the world. A Tennessee technological university student Brian Cook is a young engineer with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with an eye on a master’s in aerospace engineering, he recently developed a means to upgrade the lab technology at the WDI Energetic Materials lab. Cook developed a process to automate the application of motor case linings, which were previously applied by hand. This is an example of a student willing to make engineering a success because he was motivated to.
Then there is the future of engineering that can be found in Manila and Cebu, where a group of young engineering students conceptualized, planned, and built their own “cars of the future” as part of a class project. With advice and aid from instructors, these eco-friendly vehicles — often created from recycled or salvaged materials — were built and test-driven on a racetrack after their construction. One vehicle even featured an engineering feat that “real” automotive engineers might be jealous of – a collapsible steering column that will retract in the event of a head-on collision, to avoid injury to the driver. These students are thinking outside the box and this is what creates the new generation of engineers.
Educating the Engineers of Tomorrow
As a company or business you will want to draw in the most skilled and innovative employees to make a difference. Companies such as Kennametal, Inc. (a cutting tools manufacturer) are attempting to woo the next generation of great engineers with their Young Engineers student programs. The aim of these programs is to show young people the world of engineering, encouraging them to spend time with existing Kennametal engineers and engage with hands-on design and construction projects.
With engineering in ever-increasing demand, and fewer engineering students graduating than in previous years, Kennametal considers it vital to get future generations interested in engineering. Kennametal CEO Carlos Cardoso understand the vital role that engineers will play in future generations, and created the program to help shape and guide the engineers of tomorrow while they’re still young — long before college or even high school.
Have you heard of Archie Whitehead?
Archie is the future of engineering. A 17-year-old student from Welwyn Garden City near London, who recently garnered attention for building a realistic Iron Man costume. Inspired by a fiberglass DIY Iron Man suit he found on the Internet, Whitehead used 3D plans he downloaded from online resources, printed them out, then cut the components out of foam. He then used an acrylic gel to make the costume solid enough to be painted, and coloured it with spray paint. The end result was a light, flexible Iron Man costume nearly indistinguishable from the original movie prop at first glance, and the final cost of the project was less than $500. All this comes out of the passion for Iron Man, the engineering and robotics innovation and the determination to replicate such a suit. Archie had a goal, to make Iron Man really live on and that he has done.
If you want to be in the new generation of engineers, then keep motivated. Set your goals, targets, research and take inspiration from famous engineers as it can get you a career in engineering or robotics. You can even take inspiration from these new generations, watch how they improve their productivity by innovating on their own; this is the future.