North Texas

Engineering Stereotypes Demystified

Most people can easily recognize the contributions engineers make to society, but far too often engineers are incorrectly stereotyped as boring geeks. As a part of the opening of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s newly reimagined Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall, 15 local “engin-nerds” were interviewed for the exhibit. Many of their answers to interview questions debunked the labels that have often been assigned to this profession that more and more people (especially women) are choosing to pursue. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Texas is among the top five states with growing employment for engineers. So, maybe it is time to clear up the myths about these every day problem solvers.

Myth 1 - Engineers are introverted and never leave their computers.

Erica Kahn, Mechanical Engineer for ME Engineers, loves to travel and immerse herself in different cultures. She seizes every opportunity she gets to go somewhere new and meet people. Jacquelyn Block, an Architect, at GFF Architects, has been scuba diving in Australia, Thailand, Malaysia (in caves), Belize, and many other locations.

Myth 2 - They can do or fix everything.

Jonathan Brower, Structural Engineer for L.A. Fuess Partners, Inc. cannot whistle. “Never have been able to and have tried to learn several times.” But seriously, Jonathan admits that engineers cannot have the answers to or solve everything on the spot. “It’s okay to tell people that you need some time to figure it out. You need to know for sure!”

Myth 3 - They’ve only ever thought about careers in engineering.

Erica Kahn would love to work as a movie director. She is fascinated with a director’s ability to bring stories to life on screen. “It’s another form of creativity and innovation that is constantly changing and moving forward. Movies have a way of influencing culture and society in similar ways that engineering does.” Maggie Hill, Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin, wouldn’t mind a career as a curator in an art museum and Kathrina Macalanda, Electrical Engineer at Texas Instruments, has thought about a career as a race or stunt car driver.

Myth 4 - They are not creative thinkers.

Kamin Bouguyon, Computer Engineer at The Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas, believes he could survive a zombie apocalypse for at least a couple of years because of the survival skills he learned as an Eagle Scout. Kori Harlan, Undergraduate Engineering Researcher at UT Dallas, enjoys crocheting and would love to make a cat sweater.

Myth 5 - They are not adventurous.

Annie Wu, Software Engineer for L3 Technologies, once lived in a barn. She thought it would be a fun experience, but it turns out that, “living with spiders isn’t all that great.” Elise Reagan, of VEX Robotics would accept a one-way ticket to Mars but would like to wait until she is 90 years old!

Myth 6 - They don’t know how to collaborate

Jonathan Brower, Structural Engineer for L.A. Fuess Partners, Inc., designs the “skeleton” of a building in order to make an architect’s design dreams come true. Kathrina Macalanda, “works with car makers around the world to understand what cool features they want in their future cars and then makes it a reality.”

Mechanical Engineer, Erica said it best when describing the importance of engineers to society. “Engineers are consistently using their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to answer questions people have every day. We combine our creativity and technical ability to develop new ideas and technologies that push the world forward.” Engineers are nerds, a label they whole-heartedly embrace. They are also cool, funny, and interesting people.

Learn more about the featured local engineering talent and much more in the newly reimagined Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, opening to the public on November 12.  The Hall refresh is made possible thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the Texas Instruments Foundation, which invests in education initiatives that improve the quality of life and achievement of the North Texas community. Included in the popular hall update, are a 1,400 square-foot ChallENGe Lab presented by the Hoglund Foundation, a floor-to-ceiling “Amazing Airways” wind-tube, hands-on robot and circuit stations, a shrinking microchip exhibit, a facial feature interactive, a crank-able mechanical art installation, an LED-activated music coding sequencer, and so much more.

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