Engineering. Working within a set of rules to constantly improve upon an idea. Engineering can be easily lost in the light of a final product. Nobody knows about the 39 WDs that didn’t work, the turbos that flew apart at engine idle, or even the puddles of weird goopy film that lead to the eventual creation of Nylon. Engineering is what happens when nobody is looking; when nobody even knows there’s a problem to be solved. There is a cap at the end of an inflatable life vest not more than an ounce in weight. Now hundreds of people are alive because they floated. Because they didn’t need to run to the back of the plane to get a foam vest. Because an engineer made a great product better.
Percy Spencer, John L. Loud, Nils Bohlin. These men created some of the most widely used and innovative equipment ever developed, but even knowing that, I doubt most people could match them to their accomplishments. Spencer invented the Microwave, Loud the ballpoint pen, and in 1959 Nils Bholin introduced the first 3 point seat belt to the Volvo motor company.
These men did not do these things for fame or fortune or any kind of recognition. They did it out of curiosity. They did it out of love. It was a love of science. It was a predisposition for tinkering, tailoring, and most of all questioning everything. Why does this work this way? Why doesn’t it do that? How can I make this better? They’re driven by finding a new path, picking a new thread or improving peoples’ lives. Rare is the esteemed engineer who scrawled “I was here” on their inventions. They went as so many like them will through life doing what they do in view of none but observed by all.
Last night my best friend was in an accident; head on, at highway speed into the side of another vehicle. There was a time only a blink in the past when this would’ve been the last moment in any driver’s life. No return to family, no return to friends. I wouldn’t have been able to ask what room she was in, run down the hallway, and hug that terrified look off her face. I wouldn’t have even shown up, and she never would’ve left. But because of Nils Bholin and others like him, all of this got to happen. It has left me with an ineffable desire to give someone everything I’ve got in thanks that it didn’t turn out the way it could’ve, but alas this single person does not exist. So I’d like to thank everyone. To every under-appreciated, unrealized engineer who fought the good fight toward a seemingly unreachable goal without fame nor fortune nor signature on as much as a single tag, thank you for doing what you do. I doubt I’m the first or the last person to appreciate it.