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Engineer Entrepreneur

Daniel T. Koenig, P.E.
Daniel T. Koenig, P.E.
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ASME Press
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Presently, engineers coming out of school to their first job are really novice scientists, not pragmatic technical problem-solvers. In the future, just as now, we will need both. But we need many more of the latter than the former. For an engineer to establish that initial contract between engineer and employer, she or he needs to bring more than theoretical science knowledge to the enterprise. That may be good for the initial hiring because that's the present level available for companies to choose from, but it's not sufficient for future engagements with lean-staffed companies.

Being a technical problem-solver doesn't mean just solving technical problems. It means applying the “scientific method” to all forms of business-related problems. In truth, the entrepreneur needs to have an inherent sense of order to take a good idea to reality. The way engineers should be trained is to objectively analyze problems, articulate choices, and go with the one that is most likely to succeed. This is what is necessary in any startup or ongoing situation. The basic premise of the technical-based education aims to do this. Unfortunately the focus is too narrow. Young engineers are led to believe that it only applies to science-based problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. All business problems benefit from this approach, and the more we can do to instruct our young engineers to recognize this and practice it, the better they will fit into the company of tomorrow and the better they will be prepared to run their own enterprises. In this chapter, I will present a “non-educators” evaluation of current methods of training engineers and present a modification of the present approach that is more suitable for success in the 21st century business scenario, be it as an employee, contractor, or entrepreneur growing an idea into a business.

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