Problem, problems, problems. There is always a problem. When growing up, we were told not to be “a problem child,” or not to “to create a problem.” I dread having car problems, or worse, marriage problems. Yet, as engineers we should be happy for problems. For if it were not for problems, we would not have jobs.
When going to school, many of the kids I knew hated math problems. I saw through the words and just saw the math and enjoyed manipulating numbers to get the right answer. At higher education levels, we learned by solving problems of one type or another. For the social science folks, there were things like political problems. For the engineers, we had programming problems, circuit problems, and mechanical problems. You might assume that after four years of solving problems one would get tired.
However, once the graduation is over, we start looking for jobs and then the fun begins as an engineer goes about solving the company's problem of making the product work correctly. Or, the solving of the customer's problem of how to get that gadget to work properly. As an electronic engineer, our problems do not usually end when we leave the office. There is always some friend or family member coming up and asking you to fix the VCR (OK, I'm showing my age — at least it wasn't the beta), or DVD player. Or, “Can you fix the Wii — it's making that funny sound.”
I find problem-solving to be a great challenge and a learning experience. It allows one to figure out how things work. With the research capability of the Internet, I was able to find the steps to pull apart my four-year-old Toshiba notebook to fix the bad power plug solder joint. Applying the diverse, newfound knowledge of solving these non-work problems should help us to solve the work problems. Any learning we do helps us to learn in better ways.
My task these days has been to get old electronics working, and with the additional problem of parts availability, it has been a challenge. In many cases, I fortunately have the schematics. But there is the occasional issue of no schematics — and trying to figure out how the circuit works and why. I enjoy doing the reverse engineering of the old stuff. The thought and creativity that went into the circuits amazes me.
Once in awhile I find a problem that stumps me to the point where I need to go seek help. As the only electronic engineer in a sea of mechanical engineers, there is not much hope for me. However, I find that if I can talk to someone about my problem in such a way to make them understand, I often find the solution myself. Otherwise, the person ends up asking questions that can lead to the answer.
I find problems to be fun and challenging. For if it were not for problems, we would not have jobs; or else I suppose we would have “job problems” that could lead to “marriage problems.” So, what's your problem?