Impostor Syndrome in Engineers

The engineering fear is that we’re frauds. We don’t know anything special or unique and that there is nothing that we can offer. That we’ll eventually be found out. There are even famous quotes in the community, such as:

“Structural engineering is the art of molding materials we don’t wholly understand, into shapes we can’t fully analyze, so as to withstand forces we can’t really assess, in such a way that the community at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.”

-James E. Amrhein, Masonry Institute

Getting at the heart of it, the feeling isn’t that you’re a fraud, it’s that you’re overlooking something. A missed calculation, a reason why it won’t work. After all, anticipating why a design may fail is what engineers are paid to do.

It should be noted, many discoveries that pushed the field forward, came from disasters that some engineer couldn’t have foreseen. Studies of natural frequencies of bridges came out of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge failure. Thinking about that, taking a new project all the way through leads to two outcomes: 1. success or 2. learning something new. Neither seems particularly bad. Some pessimistic engineers will shout other bad things could happen, but most of those are only true in the case of negligence.

You’re not a fraud. You’re smart. You’re capable, and you have something to share with the world. Just start sharing.

P.S. If you want to start by sharing your idea with me, my info is on the about me page. I’ll be happy to share ideas about how to bring it to life. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s