One of my favorite movies is Apollo 13. An oxygen tank fails two days into the mission as the spacecraft heads to the moon, and the astronauts have to put together an alternative mechanism to propel their ship back to Earth and provide them with enough oxygen to survive the trip. I love when a manager drops a box of all of the materials that are on board the spaceship on a table in front of a team of engineers in Houston, telling them to find a solution. I think that really describes what engineers do: we solve problems in the context of external constraints. This is such a foundational part of being an engineer that the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which accredits most U.S. (and many international) engineering programs, requires that programs show the board how what we teach you helps you to learn to solve problems given constraints. We don’t ask you to solve problems such as those you see in Apollo 13, but you should recognize that theme in multiple places in your program.
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