Socially, if there is something we could say about the engineering community, we find ourselves uncomfortable in a big conglomeration of people.
According to the Meyers-Briggs test, ISTJ is the personality best suited for engineering. These letters stand for Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. Known as the Logistician personality type, it describes a person who enjoys being in their own mind and doesn’t follow intuition but tests their surroundings. These people think first before doing and are honest, direct, strong-willed, responsible, and dutiful. Calm and practical. Does that sound like a bubbly personality?
When working with several people with the same personality type, interacting can be quite a challenge. Some events and exercises that have been devised to force engineers to interact are the following:
Hackathons are events where people with technical knowledge from different areas can gather to solve a given problem. Time is allocated, usually 30 hours, to devise a solution, ask specialist mentors for every challenge, and after the answers are presented, a winner is chosen, and money is earned. It forces people to find their competitive side and bring what they love into play. And we all love solving problems through code, planning, research, games, and bossing people around. Hackathons work cause of a simple basic principle; we all want to feel we belong. We have a community of people who are just as invested in the work, give results, make situations and problems better, find better solutions, and reinvent the wheel.
In one company I used to work for, they dedicated one day a year to giving back to our community. A non-profit organization was picked, and everyone was sent into another state to plant trees, teach farmers different ways to grow crops, donate their time to a foodbank, distribute food to senior citizens in poor villages. Community days are humbling cause they bind us as human beings. Buddhists, scholars, and my mum are joined in the belief that “gratitude is necessary for integrity,” and by helping others, we profess gratitude and appreciation to our land, people, and community.
Have you ever seen “The biggest loser”? I’m not saying engineers are fat by definition, no. But engineers spend a lot of time sitting down, looking at code, analyzing. Some companies provide standing desks, but not many have the resources to purchase them in this pandemic era. Fitness competitions are a way to improve our physical health and remind us to go out and take a walk every few days. It doesn’t have to be about losing weight, maybe just a step-count competition.
To sum it up, whether through a hackathon, community days, or fitness competitions, if our goal is to unite our engineering community, everything is fair game. Ask your team what they do in their free time. Reading, watching movies, hiking, running, walking their dog. Our principle, in particular, while working on US-based companies, has to be diversity. Create clubs, propose a game day, find what makes us unique and exploit it to see what makes us similar, cause in the end, what separates us is what will bind us together.