Monday, 21 November 2016

The How v/s Why of Engineering

From the viewpoint of a common man, there are certain perceptions about an engineer. For example, every Mechanical Engineer is expected to know how to repair a bike or car. An Electronics Engineer must be an expert in fixing the problems in a device like television, computer or a switchboard. Most often Engineering Students are also expected to be the ‘repairers’ when there is a technical problem.

But is it the sole skill expected of an engineer? The real question is: What is the question to be answered by an engineer? The HOW question or the WHY question.
Confusing, huh?

The HOW Question: Have a look at some of the HOW questions.
How to tighten a screw? How to solder or join an electrical component? How to do the welded joint? How to cut a metal sheet?

These are practical questions with an answer available from thumb rules and experience. Answers that can be obtained from a trained person, who may not necessarily know the details of the science behind it.

The real question to which an engineer should answer is the WHY Question.

The WHY question:
Why is High Speed Steel used for drilling? Why is Aluminium difficult to weld? Why did that machine stop working? Why should there be a high factor of safety given while constructing complex structures?

The WHY question can be answered only by a well-educated and skilled Engineer. The knowledge of theory and its application is the foundation of an Engineer. To nourish the real engineer in you, start asking ‘Why’, more than asking ‘How’.

Start asking Why and find answers.

Jerin George
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

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