5: Take Risks

Take Risks.   Design of big things requires risk taking.    Design of new and unique solutions to problems takes even more risk.  Because engineering requires ingenuity, it requires risk.  Be daring.  We need to continue to be leaders in design and construction and we need to take more active roles in pushing our projects forward, not getting pushed. In Uncertainty in Structural Engineering by William M. Bulleit, there is a great little quote taken from Lord Kelvin:

Lord Kelvin, the physicist William Thomson, said, “It’s no trick to get the answers when you have all the data. The trick is to get the answers when you only have half the data and half that is wrong and you don’t know which half.” Although he was talking about science, Lord Kelvin’s statement fairly well summarizes the problems associated with uncertainty in structural engineering.  [Bulleit, 2008]

In popular terminology, scientific applications or procedural calculations are about the "known knowns."   Design is much more about the "known unknowns."  Embracing this means embracing risk.

Also, maybe taking risks isn't really that risky.

People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. [Peter Drucker, Austrian-American writer]

So... don't not do it.   Do not let things prevent you from doing the thing you want to do.   (i.e. take risks)

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