Engineering: it’s more than science, it’s an art.
3 years ago I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. But 3 years later, I have absolutely no regrets.
It was decided upon by the career gods that I would join a fleet of mostly men and a few women to enter the remarkable world of engineering. Through innovation, design and imagination we would create the world of tomorrow. Little did I know that the future would involve grease (And a lot of it.)
Studying to become a mechanical engineer, braving mathematics and science, I would soon have to brave a new world. The disillusionment of first year vacation work.
They say on the first day of work a doctor is handed a scalpel and a dead body, in my world this was exchanged for a rag and a helmet, more formerly known as a P.P.E. I soon realized why factory workers have a ‘distinct’ walk, it’s all due the weight of the metal-tipped boots that make sure I leave with the ten toes I entered with.
Touring the factory (with my newly acquired ’factory walk’) I was astonished at the amount of work that goes into making a product, in this case our precious sweetener we take for granted, sugar. The amount ofpower and machinery, and intricate processes that go into turning the endless hills of sugar cane that surround my home town, into the white crystals we rely on to fully wake up every morning
Every man has a place and every job has a man. At nine o’clock a siren — the international sound of danger — sounds and instead of the evacuation which I assumed, here it is music to the ears of everyone as it signals the beginning of the first tea break for the day.
This was my first experience as a worker among foremen and I was soon emerged within the brotherhood that exists between men who spend every daylight together. I was quite envious as I knew that a sisterhood as strong between women could never exist. These men would sacrifice their lives for one another and never ask for anything in return.
Although I got told to stand a little further from everyone when something dangerous was being done, or was frequently referred to as ‘the girl,’ I was genuinely surprised at the atmosphere of this plant. If you walk into an office block of clerks on any given business day, you will soon realize that the people inside are as uptight as the buildings are ‘up..’
I found it remarkable that these men and few women, who work from 6:30 in the morning til 4:30 in the afternoon are as cheerful and carefree about life as someone with no worries in the world would be. It was as if the minimum wage for the labour intensive work they did, did not reside within them. I had to think, are the years of studying and being forced into a money-driven world, taking the happiness out of us? Every decision we make is centered around how much money the options will bring in. From what career to follow to what job to take. Are we ever truly happy, or are we living on the false hope that money will make us happy, despite how miserable our lives are?
If a job had to be done, these men had to work around the clock to fix it. Sometimes working 12 hours a day and 22 hours in rotation on a break down. Yet every person I encountered, despite their chronic sleep deprivation were incredibly patient and did not mind the distraction of 3 untrained aspiring engineers lurking over them. They took the time out to explain and demonstrate various skills and share their valuable knowledge.
So if I’ve gotten myself into a complete mess, beginning work at 6:30 am and the end of the day being undefined, I would take being a part of this team, and pushing the boundaries of engineering everyday, than walking into an office and refreshing my Facebook page from 9 to 5.
Brace yourself engineering world, I’m 3/4 and engineer!
Giving a new meaning to the term changing gears with my team.