The Importance of Engineers – Changing the World behind the Scenes

When you were a little kid, what did you dream of becoming? Many dream of being a doctor, fire fighter, or teacher. Engineering is a term that most children either have never heard of or don’t understand. Engineering combines science, mathematics, and creativity to design buildings, electronic devices, and amenities that we typically take for granted.

Let me ask you a question. When you drive down the road, how often do you notice power lines, substations, or power plants? Do you ever stop and think about the complexity of our power grid? Electricity has become an expected amenity in our culture, yet the people behind the scenes who produce and provide electricity to our world are often overlooked. These people, (yes, you guessed it!) are engineers. Our company, Sega Inc. (Sega), focuses on improving our everyday lives by providing engineering and technical services to the power industry.

Before working at Sega, I wouldn’t have recognized a substation if I was standing twenty feet from it. It wasn’t until I toured the Kansas City Power & Light Company La Cygne Generating Station, located approximately 40 miles south of Kansas City, that it became clear to me how complex and vast the equipment is that produces power. Standing on the 13th floor of the boiler overlooking the coal yard, substation, and air quality control equipment, it dawned on me that my coworkers, the same people I chat with at the coffee machine, design this intricate equipment. Their technical expertise continually improves the power production process and provides a safer, cleaner environment for the general population. Needless to say, I returned to the office with a whole new appreciation for the men and women I pass in the hallways.

Whether engineers design power plants, create new medical equipment, or improve the manufacturing industry, they greatly impact our lives. We should celebrate the fact that these dreamers were motivated at an early age, possibly thanks to engineering firms who took on the responsibility to educate and engage our youth in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Here at Sega, we feel we must do our part to continue the succession of the STEM arena by putting our efforts into programs that reach students of all ages. Whether at the middle school, high school, trade school, or college level, we provide resources to support these programs throughout the region.

One example of STEM outreach is our strong partnership with the Blue Valley School District’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS). In 2015, we teamed up with the district’s program and quickly became incorporated with students through mentorship roles, mock engineering projects, and serving on judges’ panels for student presentations. This exposure to real-world engineering has cemented the college pathways of some of these students, while shedding light on all of the remarkable things engineers produce each day.

Engineering is a profession that holds great responsibility, but more times than not, results in a deep level of satisfaction and achievement. The work of engineers is rarely recognized and often forgotten, however, their contributions face the test of time as buildings stand, medical equipment detects disease, and power plants produce electricity. A senior design engineer at Sega has a framed quote from President Herbert Hoover hanging in his office. Below is an excerpt from Hoover’s quote.

“The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny he did it. If his works do not work, he is dammed…”

Next time you are driving down the road, take a moment to notice the miles upon miles of transmission and distribution lines, and think about the brilliance of the engineers that were behind the design of those structures. All professions contribute to the greater good of society, but engineers are one of a kind. They are intelligent, analytical, and inventive. But most of all, they are dreamers.

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