Santa’s helpers – The empoverished life of an engineer

By smckinne

As children, we learn that Santa has elves and those elves are always busy in Santa’s shop, working day and night building toys around Christmas.  Meanwhile, on the final day of product delivery, Christmas Eve, Santa swoops in and takes all the glory!!  Here they are, doing all the grunt work, enslaved to a life of servitude, and they get no respect.  Sure, they get a head nod every now and then, maybe even a funny movie (check out Will Ferrell’s Elf if you haven’t seen it – it will be on USA network this weekend) but generally speaking, they are over worked and under appreciated.

Does this sound familiar to you?  It’s OK, you know it does, even if you don’t want to admit it.  Engineering is one of those fields were you get to do some pretty cool stuff but it’s not often that you get any recognition for it.  You have to simply be happy with the fact that you solved a problem.  The world only sees a finished product without knowing the blood sweat and tears it took to put that polish on it, so only you can truly celebrate the achievement of a job well done.

It may not be much, but here’s my head nod, tip of the hat, token of appreciation, whatever you want to call it, to the life of the engineer.

Dear Engineer,

You make my life better –  I thank you for that.  Without you, I might be rolling over rocks and logs trying to find the next bug to eat – I thank you I don’t have to do that!  It’s amazing what you have done from the early dawn of the industrial revolution to today’s mobile and connected society – it’s truly a marvel – we would be lost without you.  I could list a thousand different ways an engineer has touched my life through a piece of technology that I so often take for granted – thank you for being an innovator.   I couldn’t even list all the different influences engineers have had on our civilization (energy, medicine, transportation, Internet, phones, computers, etc etc etc)  – thank you for being the unrecognized implementer.   I look back, even over the last 5 years, and consider how much influence technology has had on everyone’s life, and we wouldn’t have any of it if it weren’t for you.  Thank you!

For those of you wondering, I am an engineer (MSEE), but these days I’m more like Santa – beyond starting to get fat and growing a beard, I get to enjoy the glory for the hard work that engineers put into Mentor’s products.  So a special thank you to the Mentor engineers who work so hard at creating world class products, especially the PCB Analysis tools (my current home).  I know it’s grueling work, but it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Whatever type of industry you may be in, know that your work doesn’t go unnoticed either.  The world would be worse off without you – engineers make the world go ’round (and maybe a little bit of rotational inertia).

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at