Developing The Engineering Mindset

Mindset is a set of beliefs that affects how you think, feel and behave. Having the right mindset can help you achieve more in your life. A more technical and precise definition is given by Psychology Today:

“A mindset is a belief that orients the way we handle situations, the way we sort out what is going on and what we should do. Our mindsets help us spot opportunities, but they can also trap us in self-defeating cycles.”

Quote About Mindset
Quote About Mindset, Image Courtesy of AdobeStock

After getting enrolled into an engineering college, the first and foremost task of any student must be developing his mindset according to the field he/she has admitted to. It is essential to develop the engineering mindset as it can help engineers to tackle the challenges they meet in their professional life.

An engineer always thinks up to something—they are always curious. Engineering is considered as a way of thinking; in fact, it is a mindset itself. If you look around, nearly everything you will find are designed and built by engineers. Television, computers, houses, buildings, roads, and vehicles are all made by engineering professionals.

So what really is the engineering mindset?

Engineering mindset is to define problems and provide proper solutions, design and develop innovative products, seek, think and always being curious. In order to develop the ‘Engineering Mindset’ here are some tips you can follow to develop your mindset as an engineer.

#1 Take Optimistic Approach

Take Optimistic Approach
Take Optimistic Approach, Image Courtesy of AdobeStock

Unlike other professionals, an engineer must think optimistically. Engineers solve complex problems and deals with challenging events in their daily work. Staying optimistic is important to cope with difficult situations. Some of the professions like lawyers do not take the optimistic approach many times as they must be ready for the worst possible outcome and decision against them.

On the contrary, an engineer must train himself to expect the best result of his work. It takes time, but an engineer can develop this skill as time passes by.

#2 Evolving Curiosity – Be Curious Always!

Evolving Curiosity - Be Curious Always!
Evolving Curiosity – Be Curious Always, Image Courtesy of AdobeStock

An engineer must develop the curiosity and interest in every aspect of life. An engineer must think out of the box and see the world differently. Look at the details and facts of everything in which they are involved.

An engineer should not leave any thought in his mind by saying, “it is what it is”. An engineer should think how and why things are like that surround him. How did other designer and engineers solve the problems around himself? Dismember the structure of everything into parts and understand the architecture of the world around him.

Curiosity is at the heart of engineering, read more about: “Creative Engineering Mindset: Creativity & Curiosity in Engineering

The best way to understand this for example is by not focusing on the fact that your laptop/phone has some sort of issue but you should focus on how this issue can be solved.

#3 Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking
Systems Thinking, Image Courtesy of AdobeStock

According to the royal academy of engineering, systems thinking should be one of the engineer habits of mind. To understand the ‘Systems Thinking’ lets focus on the definition of it:

“It is looking at the system and parts of the structure that is how they connect to each other, and understanding the interdependent synthesizing of the system.” – Source: ‘Thinking like an engineer Implications for the education system by Bill Lucas, 2014’

Let’s understand this definition of Systems Thinking. An engineer must go through the whole system, he wants to learn and observe the elements and parts of the system as they change. An engineer should try to see the bigger picture of the system. He must note down the various aspects of the systems’ or situation’s elements and their inter-dependencies. In this way, engineers will have more clear solution of the problems.

#4 Iterative Progression

Iterative Progression
Iterative Progression, Image Courtesy of AdobeStock

An engineer may think that the solution of a problem is linear, but most of the problems they face might not be linear and it will require iterative approach to solve. Such approach and pre-thinking would get him out of the disappointment and will think optimistically. There are ups and down in solving the system problems. Iterations and repetitions of solution will get you the perfect solution.

#5 Keep Improving!

Keep Improving!
Keep Improving! Image Courtesy of AdobeStock

Always ask yourself, what can you do to make things better. If an engineer fails to get the solution of a system problem for example, he/she shouldn’t lose hope, instead an engineer should think differently and take another approach to find the proper solution for the problem. Get up, try again and fix the bug causing hindrance! Even if you get success in achieving the solution, there will always be space for improvement. An engineer always tries to find the optimal solution.

You should always try to improve what you have achieved because engineering is all about making the world better than before.

As the popular quote says:

“As engineers, we were going to be in a position to change the world – not just study it.” – Henry Petroski

Remember life is as good as your mindset, so as a passionate engineer always try to develop the ‘Engineering Mindset‘.

Aimal Khan is the founder & CEO of Engineering Passion. He is an engineer and has obtained his bachelor's degree in energy engineering from Kandahar University.