3 Personality Traits All Great Engineers Have
Dilbert, the central character of Scott Adams’ comics, plays the part of the stereotypical engineer to a T. He’s introverted, scientifically literate, over analytical and often critical of management policies. Yet there is some truth to this stereotype, and most prolific engineers share personal character traits in common. Here is a list of 3 personality traits all great engineers have.
Conscientiousness is one of the big five personality traits. It refers to attention to detail, orderliness and logic. When you’re designing a product, you have to make sure that every part is literally accounted for. When designing a structure, you have to take every force into account so that it doesn’t break because you didn’t consider the load snow puts on the roof in the winter or the weight of customers with their carts on the second floor.
You have to make certain you include everything the customer needs and a few of the things they want. You have to review the impact of every design change on every element of the design, including assembly instructions and parts lists. Conscientiousness also refers to wanting to do the task well, and engineers that speed through a design and create something that fails will be drummed out of the profession.
Honesty and Integrity
Honesty and integrity are essential in engineering, and they are spelled out in the engineering code of ethics. You have to be able to say when something isn’t working so you don’t waste more time on a current line of design. And you cannot take short cuts to meet management schedules. This may require telling a boss no so that you don’t do something that puts the public at risk.
At a personal level, honesty and integrity means admitting when you made a mistake in a design so that it can be corrected before you build the first model, and giving honest estimates so that management doesn’t make promises you cannot keep. You’ll learn more about this when you finish an online masters in engineering from the University of California Riverside and apply for a professional engineering license.
While there are inventors who developed innovative products in their garages, the best engineers are the ones who can leverage an entire team to achieve their objectives. The best engineers are cooperating as individuals or working as part of a larger group.
For every other engineer, there is a significant need to work with others because modern projects are simply too complicated. While one engineer may be designing the drivetrain of the car, another is designing the support beams while a third is designing the exterior of the car. They all have to work together to create the final product. The value of this as a skill is why almost every online masters engineering program teaches project management to its students.
While these traits tend to be common to most successful engineers, most, if not all, can be nurtured. If you feel you lack in certain areas and still want to pursue your dream of becoming an engineer, all it takes is direction, discipline, and the right amount of self-awareness to change your character.