Why Engineering?

Sometimes I actually ask myself this question with a raised fist to the sky and an agonized tone in my voice. Other times I shrug my shoulders as if to say, “Why NOT Engineering?”

It’s probably easiest to start, once again, at the beginning. The idea of being an engineer first started forming in my brain with small influences from my parents. We grew up on a tight budget, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom/in home childcare giver for most of my youth. We struggled financially, but we made it work. I hated just making it work though, and like most kids I wanted to be able to do the extras other kids got to do like family vacations and eating out!!

So when my dad started talking about how I ‘should be an engineer’, the only concept I really remembering holding on to was the mention of them making a lot of money. And I was sold. In junior high and high school I was told over and over again how smart I was and how great I was with numbers. Math and science were my greatest subjects (albeit my least favorite next to art), and it seemed natural that I would choose to be an engineer. So I started taking college classes in high school to get the ‘dumb credits’ out of the way. I started prepping myself for engineering. Did I even really know what it was? I didn’t have a clue!

I did have second thoughts for a month or so right before high school graduation, and on a whim enrolled at Benedictine College in their pre-law/law enforcement program. I considered going into crime scene investigation, but then realized I also hated chemistry and biology…so that wasn’t gonna work out.

After my first year’s struggles with anorexia at Benedictine I decided I needed a fresh start, so I transferred to K-State because they had a great engineering program. Once I had made that decision, in true Abel fashion, I charged after that diploma without a second thought about it. I had made the choice to be an engineer, an Architectural/Structural engineer no less, and by God that was what I was going to do.

Pretty sure after my first internship I realized I probably should have thought about what I really WANTED to do, but then, I’m not one for changing my mind so stick with it I did. I didn’t really know exactly what an engineer was upon graduation even, but after 3 sorry internships and 1 fairly sorry first job out of college experience I now know. An engineer is a person that reads a lot of books filled with rules, and then uses those rules to create things. That’s a really general definition, but it is what it is it fits.

Side note: I absolutely hate the phrase It is what it is. Seriously, what does that phrase even do? It’s like saying “you know, to win this football game they are going to have to score more than the other team.” Duh and thank you for wasting precious oxygen just to state the obvious.

Back to the point: For the most part I chose to be an engineer because of the money. I then stuck with engineering because I absolutely cannot quit things once I begin them.  I chose architectural engineering because it sounded cool and had 97% job placement at graduation. I chose structural engineering because it was one of the hardest forms of engineering and who I am to take the easy route?

Do I hate what I do? Most days the answer is no. But then I wouldn’t say I love it most days either. It pays the bills and it can be very entertaining. It also has the added perk of driving by a building or structure and being able to say “I totally did that.” Who doesn’t love a good stroke to the ego now and again!

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