“Engineering, done right, is an invisible art. Doctoring and lawyering done right are intensely personal activities, service businesses with one-on-one human attention. Good engineers fade into the background. Engineers make objects and the objects speak for themselves. You probably can’t name the engineer who recorded and mixed the sound on your favorite new record. You almost certainly can’t name the engineers who designed all your local bridges and rail systems. We don’t even know how many people designed, say, the smart cover for the iPad 2. All of this is by design. Engineers also rip and mix and burn and create things that are the sum total of a lot of individual efforts. I don’t even know if I’m the engineer responsible for the test software that tested the wafer that spawned the chip that went into your cell phone that filters the RF frequencies in your cellular radio. There are very good odds that I am: I wrote such software, and last I heard it was still running and my old company is still selling chips. Again, this is how proper engineering works. Many of the best people you’ll ever meet work outside the spotlight, quietly making their corner of the system better. Engineering is a worldbuilding activity. The objects become famous, not us, but even the objects’ fame is fleeting. The marvel of one age is the boring infrastructure of the next. But, hey, at least you get to change the world. Fame isn’t everything.”

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