(The following post was handed to us on graph paper by guest poster, Droo.)
What follows is both the musings of a man growing up doomed to be an engineer, and a warning for parents on what will doom the little angel to be an engineer.
The two natural traits of a child on the path to becoming an engineer are an unnatural quest to find out “why” and a sense of wonder at how things interact. Consider the following conversation…
If your child asks “why?” and you do not know, work with your child to discover the answer. Use the time to show them how to find out new information, assess the reliability of sources and discover the variety of sources that have interesting facts. As your child grows older, help them to progress from asking “why?” to “why not?” to “how can I do this?” and finally to “how can I do this more than once?” Remember, you can drop a piano out of a second storey window. The trick is being able to do it twice.
I am often told that I am very creative. I find this odd, because I do not generate new things. I take lots of small ideas, elements and mechanisms and then assemble them to solve the problem I am looking at. I pick up these small ideas quickly and easily, often by reading widely (but not deeply) and watching large amounts of infotainment. Discussions with fellow engineers on this matter show that I am not alone in this odd way of thinking.
The one toy I find common to most engineers is Lego. As a child, I could build any Lego set from instructions in a day (even the dinosaur model with the Lego Technic control panel set). This constant building and rebuilding encouraged me consider improvements to set designs and make these improvements happen. Lego wasn’t the only toy I had as a child, but almost all of my happy playtime memories involve Lego.
Please note that taking the above actions will not provide a 100% engineering conversion rate. However, they will give your child the skills to find out new facts and explore the world for themselves. Worst case scenario? You will have a brilliant addition to the trivia table.
One website I would encourage anyone to visit at any age is Adafruit. There are a lot of interesting projects and lots of good tutorials, amongst other things.
Sub Editor’s Warning: Please note that engineers have terrible spelling and grammar. Handwriting may also resemble spiderlegs squashed against a blackboard. May include addiction to graph paper and interesting new gadgets. Always check washing instructions before use.
 This is true of both adult engineers and potential engineers.
 Always handy when you need a beer.