We all have a least favorite subject, mine was stats. I struggled to understand the basic reason why it was even important. I could do the homework, but I lost interest when I couldn’t see the bigger picture. However, the third time around (yeah, it was a basic class for my major and I needed to pass it, so it took me three times) I finally had a teacher that opened up the world of stats to me in a way that made the homework assignments bearable and I even enjoyed class every now and then.

Many times when we hate a class or subject it is often because we do not understand how it fits into our lives; but when someone comes along and opens that door of understanding to us, we are able to see it in a whole new light. We may even find that we enjoy it quite thoroughly. That is my intent with this short article, to introduce you to three engineers who have contributed to your world that you probably did not even know about.

To start us off, let’s begin with my personal favorite, Nikola Tesla. While you may have heard of his contemporary rival Thomas Edison, chances are that you may never have heard of Tesla unless you’re an avid car collector or science buff. Serbian born Nikola Tesla brought us fluorescent lighting and bettered our ability to transfer electricity from place to place. He invented the AC system that dramatically reduced the amount of huge power “relay” stations needed to transport power from location-generated to location-used. And for all you dreamers out there, he was also said to have devised a system of transporting electricity safely and effectively via wireless stations using the energy already existing in the ionosphere surrounding the entire world. If electricity excites you, let the Tesla Coil inspire you to get a degree in it.

Next off, let’s toss out another name that you are probably even less likely to know. If you spend any part of your day on computers you have the pioneer Alan Turning in part to thank. In bestowing upon him the honor of one of the 20th century’s most important people Time magazine underscored his importance to our world of modern technology. Turning’s contributed significantly to the very basic system on which computers operate, the binary system. He also is credited with helping to end World War II by decoding German encrypted messages. He also made great contributions to software development after the war and is said by some to be the father of computer science. If you get an online degree, you are standing on his shoulders.

Let’s give you one more engineer that can help inspire you on your way to getting your engineering degree. While Henry Ford came up with a way to mass produce cars, Nicolaus Otto, the German engineer/scientist invented the 4 stroke engine that’s used in just about every car today. Without that brilliant engineer, heading off to school in another state may still be behind a horse and in a buggy—perhaps. J

So, when thinking about a career in engineering, don’t shudder too fast because of the coursework. Simply look to giants like Tesla, Turning, and Otto who accomplished great things with limited means and think of what you could do, building on the work they and others have passed on to you.

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