Cookies and Capacitors

Why I engineer

Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 8:53PM

Thirteen years ago I started to tinker; to know both how and why things work. Without a doubt, that was a critical part in shaping myself.

From a young age, my caring mother enticed me to play with computers. As a child, I recall hours solving logic riddles and mathematical problems presented by games such as the Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, Math Workshop (both made by Broderbund) and The New Way Things Work (by DK Multimedia). Undoubtedly, the skills gained from these software titles contributed vastly to the foundation upon which I built my abilities.

Inspired by these titles, I am a problem solver today. My technique is to make my own problems and break things to find out how they work; therefore, I am a tinkerer. Though, this doesn’t apply only to computational problems. I also break and fix social problems. It’s a part of my personality: if I see something working, it must be broken. Computers? I’ll make them, then break them. Relationships? Friendships? Same idea. If it works, I must find out why, and to find out why, I must break it.

Sacrificing things is how I perpetually sustain myself. You see, I find the knowledge gained from breaking things far more valuable than what those things meant to me.

I love old technology because it’s so incredibly easy to hack and explore, and it’s usually the first revision of modern technology–improvements can be made, but the original image, intention, or function is still existent, albeit a tad hidden. This hacking process aids my understanding of today’s creations.

Engineers problem-solve technology while doctors problem-solve biology. The phrase, “worth more dead than alive,” comes to mind. I call myself an engineer because I tinker with things, break things, modify things and invent things. Things to me are more valuable broken, when I can learn about them, than when they are working. Items in working order can only tell me what they do. A broken item, however, will tell me why it won’t do what it’s supposed to. This knowledge is the sweet nectar that invites me to break something else.