Advice to High-School Age Engineers

Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011 10:56 AM by Nathan Zaugg

I have a buddy who was going to be giving some presentations to high-school kids. Specifically he asked:

  • What would you be looking for if they approached you about work?
  • Perhaps you are in that age group right now. What do you want to know?
  • Perhaps you are just a few years into the workforce. What do you wish someone had told you but never did?
  • Perhaps you have children, relatives or friends in or soon to be in that age group. What are you worried they don't know about?
  • I'm sure there are other perspectives and questions I'm not even thinking about. I'd like to hear what you have to say about it.

Here was my list:

  • Don't be afraid to try! Don't let the perception that something is too difficult stop you from experimenting.
  • Curiosity may have killed the cat, but an un-inquisitive person is mostly useless.
  • Stolen from Einstein: You don't really understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother.
  • It's never enough to be smart, you also have to work well with others.
  • Before you can be really smart, you must learn how to learn.
  • There will always be someone smarter than you are -- Become their buddy! Get to know great minds and learn all you can. Some knowledge can only be expressed this way.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication! Projects rarely fail because of technical reasons and the difference between good programmers and outstanding programmers is how well they communicate.
  • A good work ethic never goes unnoticed.
  • Know when to ask for help and when to figure something out for yourself.

I am so envious of the kids growing up now days. I had what I considered a very rich environment; we had computers in my house since I was very young, we were always given any books and programs we wanted, and there was never a shortage of encouragement. These days the technology is so much better and anyone with a real interest has unlimited resources in the form of the Internet, and technology is spectacularly accessible! Never in the history of the world has there been this kind of learning environment. If only we knew better ways to teach the kids in school – and perhaps had better things to teach them, but at least anyone with a real thirst for knowledge will have no limits.

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