Birthdays are fun! It’s always a treat to find that perfect gift that the birthday person will love – the gift that prompts a response along the lines of “just what I’ve always wanted!!” Since we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus this month, it’s fun to ponder what we might give Him as a birthday gift. I propose that engineering as a profession is well suited to offer Jesus something He really wants. That claim may sound rather bold and perhaps even preposterous, but let us consider for a moment one thing we know Jesus wants: He greatly desires to see people from every tribe and every nation saved! (See Psalm 67:2, John 3:16, and II Peter 3:9, along with many other passages throughout the Bible.)
As engineers we are curious, an attribute that is emphasized and praised by Dr. Randal Schwindt in a recent faculty blog. We discover how things work and strive to utilize this knowledge to design and develop products – fulfilling dreams by improving the quality of life of those around us and across the globe one step at a time.
In my office there is a nicely framed picture of a reactor control room capturing a unique moment in the US commercial nuclear energy history. It was October 3, 1985 at 1:30 p.m—the moment when the undamaged nuclear reactor #1 at TMI achieved criticality again. Criticality is the technical term referring to the operational condition in the reactor that makes nuclear chain reaction sustainable and controllable. It was historic because, after being seemingly dead for over 6 years since its twin reactor #2 suffered a nightmarish nuclear meltdown in 1979, the reactor came alive on that very same site.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Proverbs 25:2 (NIV) This intriguing proverb came to mind recently during an encounter with some bright high school students who were on campus competing for significant academic scholarships. The particular topic of discussion was government funding of a space exploration project, and a significant portion of these bright, energetic future college students argued that exploring space was a poor use of government funds.
How many different ways are there to produce a solid object out of raw materials? Humans have been fashioning useful and beautiful things for a very long time, using a myriad of processes. Every manufactured object was transformed from one shape to another by some process, whether it be physical, chemical, thermal, or some combination of these.