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Why do people become engineers or other kinds of technology professionals like computer scientists? Do they like what they're doing? IEEE Spectrum, in conjunction with IEEE-USA, wanted to find out, and so last fall we polled a few thousand IEEE members--both working "engineer/technology professionals," as we refer to them, and student members. These questions are particularly pertinent this month as the IEEE leads more than 100 engineering, scientific, and education societies and major corporations in celebrating National Engineers Week. The week (from 22 to 28 February) is dedicated to activities meant to enhance the public's understanding of the engineering profession and to promote precollege interest in math, science, and engineering.

The results of our survey were very positive. Most of the 830 who responded seemed pleased with what they're doing. And their basic reasons for going into technology fields held no surprises. More than three-quarters were motivated by a desire to "invent, build, or design things" and, of almost equal importance, to "solve real-world problems" [see bar chart, " Motivation to become..."]. A sizable number (19 percent) also cited the chance to "have a positive influence on the environment."

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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