How do we get around from place to place without having to walk everywhere? How can we communicate with people who live far away? These were problems that people struggled with for a long time, until recently. Before there were things like cars, and phones, and computers. And you know who solved those problems? Engineers. But do you know what an engineer is? The short answer is that an engineer is someone who wants to know how and why things work. Now, I want to know how and why things work, but does that make me an engineer? Not quite. Besides being naturally curious, an engineer is a person who designs and builds things like machines or systems, or structures, that help solve a specific problem. There’s more than just one type of engineer, too. But no matter what type of engineer someone is, they have to ask themselves three very important questions when they’re working. 1. What is the problem that needs to be solved? 2. Who has the problem that needs to be solved? And most importantly 3. Why is this problem important to solve? Let’s take a look at some examples. A really famous example of engineering is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. I mentioned that there are different kinds of engineers, and the civil engineer is someone who designs and constructs buildings, roads and, yep, bridges For the person who designed the Golden Gate Bridge, what was the problem that they needed to solve? People couldn’t travel in or out of San Francisco, which is surrounded on most sides by water, without a boat. Who had the problem? Residents of San Francisco, mostly, but really anybody traveling in the area. Why was the problem important to solve? Well you didn’t want a whole bunch of San Fransisco residents trapped in San Fransisco forever. Even if it’s a super cool city. Plus you wanted people outside of San Fransisco to be able to travel to the city easily if they needed to. So the Golden Gate Bridge was engineered as a solution to this problem In addition to civil engineers, there are also mechanical, electrical, chemical, computer, nuclear, and software engineers. And the list goes on Let’s talk about what some of the other types of engineers do. First up, electrical engineers. Electrical engineers study electricity. They design electrical systems like circuits and computer chips. Think of an electrical object that you use pretty regularly. How about your microwave? What problem was the microwave a solution to? Cold food, right? You have an electrical engineer to thank for the ability to reheat that leftover pizza you just had for lunch. But while you might not have heard of Joseph Strauss or Percy Spencer, the engineers responsible for the Golden Gate Bridge and the microwave respectively, You`ve probably heard of Henry Ford. As in Ford cars. Henry Ford was a mechanical engineer, or someone working in a manufacturing industry, making mechanical things like tools, engines and machines. Machines like cars. Ford didn`t invent the automobile, but his Ford Motor Company made a lot of them. His Model T car was famous for being affordable for plenty of Americans. Ford saw that lots of people who wanted to drive cars, just couldn`t. Because they couldn`t afford the pricey vehicles that were for sale. So he engineered a cheaper model as a solution to this problem. His fellow engineers started to do the same and now, well, car are everywhere. Henry Ford`s was not the only big name engineer. A famous engineer around today is Marissa Mayer. Mayer is the president of the internet company Yahoo, and is also a software engineer. Software engineers work on computers and other products that use software to write programs to make them faster and able to do more things. No matter what kind of engineer someone is, their job at it`s most basic level is problem-solving. Each engineer just specializes in solving certain kinds of problems. While it might seem like there are too many types of engineers to keep track of, just wait 15 years, or 50, or 100. Because we will probably have a ton of different types to add to the list by then. Think about it. Over a 100 years ago we didn`t have jobs in fields like aerospace engineering where people design and construct planes and spacecraft. We didn`t have planes like we do today, or need spaceships. So we didn`t need people to engineer them. Who knows what machines or tools or everyday objects we will have in the year 3015? Personally, I`m hoping for underwater cities. But whatever these things are, we will need engineers to make them. So what do you say? Who wants to be an engineer?