Why Engineering Loves Me

This was supposed to be an article about what I love about being a lecturer in Mechatronic Engineering. I will flip it and make it about what Engineering and lecturing love about me. First up, I learn fast and learn well. Really fast. Really well. Anything that has clear instructions. This has allowed me to enjoy the lifelong learning that is involved in a constantly changing field like Mechatronics. It means that I am able to keep up with my inquisitive students without feeling burdened by it.

Another trwhy_engineering_Loves_meait that has made my relationship with engineering and teaching work is my love of challenge. One of my earliest memories connected to my path into my current job is my older siblings telling me how hard mathematics is. I sought to prove them wrong. That challenge led me to excel in mathematics right to date. My choice of Mechatronic Engineering was based on a similar challenge – I was reliably informed that it was the most difficult engineering course at JKUAT. So I set out to excel at it. Teaching has allowed me to constantly challenge myself. It keeps my interest in my work constantly growing.

One of the personality traits I have refused to outgrow is a short attention span. It means you will usually find me flitting from interest to interest. Thus, much as engineering and me were made for each other, a desk job just wouldn’t cut it for me. For that reason, teaching works perfectly for me. I get to tweak my content to suit the audience, and since each class is different, I get a brand new job description each semester – sort of. New faces, new questions to tackle, new CATs, assignments and exams to set, new troublemakers to deal with, new geniuses to marvel at, new…you get the drift.

Finally, I happen to have a strange combination of personal quirks. I’m an introvert who doesn’t mind being around people, mainly to observe them. I’m shy, but quite loud. This allows me to teach despite generally preferring either my own or inanimate company.

Engineers are supposed to answer questions. Solve problems. Well, an unanswered question nags me to no end. And unsolved problems cry to me to fix them. I’m the one who you’ll find at the end of a novel or movie tying up the loose ends. Sometimes with duct tape. Coupled with a natural curiosity that has evolved from endless questions directed at whoever was unfortunate enough to be available to answer them at that instant, let me just say it works.

When it comes to how my brain operates, I’d say I have a very powerful, very fast processor and limited RAM. Due to that, I try to maintain a very efficient storage and retrieval system. If I don’t remember a particular fact I’ve come across, chances are, I can tell you exactly where to find it. That I how I explain how I ended up in engineering rather than anywhere else.

So, to answer the question I was supposed to answer, I love engineering and teaching because engineering and teaching love me. The combination works for me.

About the Author:
Lina Owino is a mother, daughter, wife, sister and Chairman of the Department of Mechatronic Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Engineering, Kenya.

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