Engineering education focuses on both creative and critical thinking. It teaches students to solve problems by breaking them down into their constituent parts:
- Defining the problem
- Developing ideas for solutions
- Creating a prototype
- Testing and evaluating
- Redesigning if necessary
This kind of thinking can be applied to many situations in many fields, and it can give the trained engineer a leg up in any profession. Below, are seven people who put their engineering degrees to good use in a variety of professions.
1. Michael Bloomberg - Electrical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
In 1964, Bloomberg received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. He followed that up two years later with an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Bloomberg became a general partner at investment bank Salomon Brothers, where he designed computerized financial systems. Realizing that the financial community needed real-time market data, financial calculations and financial analytics, Bloomberg formed Innovative Market Systems (IMS), which eventually became Bloomberg L.P.
By 1990, there were 8,000 "Bloomberg Terminals" installed in offices worldwide. By 2015, that number had grown to more than 325,000 terminals. Bloomberg went on to found Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Message and Bloomberg Tradebook.
In 2001, Bloomberg stepped down from the company to run for New York City Mayor. After three terms in office, Bloomberg returned to the company as CEO in 2014. In 2019, he stepped down once again in order to run for president of the U.S.
In November 2019, Forbes Magazine ranked Bloomberg as the 14th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $58 billion.
2. Carlos Slim Helu - Civil Engineering, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
According to Forbes Magazine, from 2010 to 2013, Slim was the richest person in the world, with a fortune of $61.8 billion. As of October 2019, Forbes named him as the eighth-richest person. Slim's net worth is equivalent to 6% of Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP).
Born to Lebanese immigrant parents in 1940, Slim attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he received a degree in civil engineering. He started his career as a stock trader, then went on to form the conglomerate Grupo Carso, which is involved in education, health care, industrial manufacturing, transportation, real estate, media, energy, hospitality, entertainment, high-tech, retail, sports, and financial services.
3. Tom Scholz - Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Before rock musician, songwriter, and inventor Tom Scholz founded the group Boston, Scholz received both a bachelor's degree in 1969 and a master's degree in 1970 in mechanical engineering from MIT.
While working as a product design engineer at Polaroid Corporation, Scholz used his engineering expertise to build a recording studio in the basement of his apartment building. Using guitar amplifiers, microphones and equalizers of his own design, Scholz, along with fellow musician Brad Delp formed the group, Boston.
Their most famous songs include "More Than A Feeling" and "Peace Of Mind." In 1980, Scholz also created and launched the Rockman guitar amplifier.
4. Herbert Hoover - Mining Engineering, Stanford University
Before he became the 31st president of the United States, Hoover studied first civil and then mining engineering at Stanford.
Hoover took jobs as a mining engineer in Australia, and then in China. Following WWI, Hoover served as president of the Federated American Engineering Societies. After becoming Secretary of Commerce during the administration of Warren G. Harding, Hoover went on to become president in 1928. He served only one term as he was defeated in 1932 by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hoover is quoted as saying about engineering: "Engineering… it is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer's high privilege."
5. Jimmy Carter - Nuclear Engineering, United States Naval Academy
Following graduation from the Naval Academy, the 39th President of the U.S. served as a nuclear engineer onboard submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.
On December 12, 1952, an accident at the NRX reactor at Canada's Chalk River Laboratories caused a partial meltdown of the core and the release of millions of gallons of radioactive water into the reactor building's basement. Carter led a U.S. crew that joined a Canadian crew tasked with safely shutting down the reactor.
Carter claimed his experience at Chalk River shaped his views on nuclear energy, and as president, caused him to cancel the development of a neutron bomb. In 2002, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize.
6. Alfred Hitchcock - Mechanical Engineering, London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation
At college, famous movie director Alfred Hitchcock studied mechanics, electricity, acoustics, and navigation. The death of his father forced Hitchcock to drop out of school, and he began work as a technical clerk at the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company.
During WWI, Hitchcock joined a regiment of Royal Engineers based in the UK, and after the war, he wrote copy and drew the graphics for ads featuring electric cable. Hitchcock claimed this ability to meticulously draw scenes, plus his engineering skills, allowed him to plan ahead and work to strict deadlines, both of which are necessary for a movie director.
7. Rahul Mandal - Optical Metrology, Loughborough University
If you're a fan of The Great British Baking Show, you know that the winner in 2018 was Rahul Mandal. When he isn't baking, Dr. Mandal is an engineering researcher at the University of Sheffield's Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Center.
There, Mandal develops new automated techniques for inspecting nuclear components for flaws. On his baking show win, Mandal said, "Baking is a science. It's a mixture of physics, chemistry, and engineering."