Thoughts on the Engineering Industry

A blog covering engineering, technology and business topics

Design Purpose: Abstract vs. Practical

Hello everyone, I hope your week has gone well.  I’ve spent most of the week researching summer work and engineering opportunities so I feel like I know where I want to start looking for work leads.  Now I’m just going to relax this weekend and get to the job hunting Monday.

Today I wanted to talk about something that I am sure a lot of engineers have thought about over the course of their career and that is design purpose.  Every engineer knows a joke or two poking fun at architects not making practical designs and stuff like that.  But the truth is that architects are important when incorporating aesthetics into the design process, because most engineers wouldn’t be so good at that.  I like to think that I’m good at embracing both elements and even dabble in the “idea” of architecture by sketching ideas I have for cool building concepts.  That being said, I know that I wouldn’t be any good as an architect because that’s clearly not what I’m skilled at; but it is fun way for me to stretch my brain muscles a bit.

I was wondering what the general opinion was on applying this in practice though.  For me, I feel like a little creativity is good.  If it were up to most engineers, I believe it would simple, safe and sturdy designs.  And that abstract concept in the design makes our structures more enjoyable.  I believe that’s an important part of it because the enjoyment factor for the end user needs to be considered.  But then there are some things I see that take it a bit too far.  For example, I saw a concept for a carbon production unit in CE Magazine.  The idea was that it would be a platform that floated off shore and would serve as a self-sustaining underwater and above water plant growing structure.  I just couldn’t help thinking that there a dozen more efficient ways of accomplishing that.  It looked really cool though; and along with that, I could see it being cool to an architect because it had a great aesthetic too it.  For the most part though, I feel like I lean slightly towards the abstract side in comparison to the common practice in structural engineering right now.  And my opinion about the industry aligns with that accordingly; so if I had any influence I would be pushing for innovations that use an abstract concept, but I would also make sure there is a practical application or purpose for it.

What is your opinion on this?  Do you have a preference or are you indifferent on the subject?  If so, is it just a personal preference or are there changes that need to be made in the industry right now?  Have a good weekend.


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