It seems as if the disparity between blue-collar workers, such as mechanics and utility laborers, and the techies of Silicon Valley is getting bigger every year. But these two industries have a lot more in common than you might think.
At the heart of each is technology and innovation, though Silicon Valley has a stronger leaning toward electronic technology as opposed to old-fashioned nuts and bolts. If you recall that the old-fashioned variety is preceded modern technology, then it’s easy to see how the two can learn from each other.
For example, utility workers can boast of combined experience that’s decades longer than the technology industry. This is the industry that created debris caps to optimize safety and was literally “in the field” well before Intel sent drivers out to test rural Wi-Fi as its idea of fieldwork
Auto workers were doing test drives to ensure those Google employees got to work safely well before the Google car was a twinkle in an engineer’s eye. So what might be some of the rules and tricks of traditional technology that could transfer to contemporary high-tech?
If you think a software engineer does a lot of tests, that’s nothing compared to the civil engineer who’s charged with ensuring that buildings and bridges are stable, or a utility expert who has to keep buildings safe in the event of earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The rules of testing, re-testing, and a triage system for getting as many eyes on a project as possible began in more traditional fields. Many mistakes were made in the beginning, because human lives were at stake, and the end result is that today’s engineers (in all fields) are fairly well protected when they’re on the job.
From the day the wheel was created, innovation has been the foundation of all specialties of engineering. There’s always room for improvement, whether you’re talking about a car or the latest smartphone.
There’s also a lot of overlap these days, with airplanes full of software and electrical engineering. The skill set necessary for all types of engineers, whether you’re in utility management or hardware development, is so refined that this is the reason they receive that hefty salary.
Back to basics
The greatest thing modern tech geeks can learn from their predecessors is that there’s no reason to re-invent the wheel … and safety always comes first. Look at the path that’s already been set down for you. It’s been tried and tested many times over the years, so take advantage of it.