When I was about eight years old my parents gave me my first Meccano set.
Back in those days, Meccano was not pre-packaged, with detailed instructions, and just the right number of components, to create a single specific project. It was a kit, with a book of ideas you could create, some of which would need other kits than the one you had.
When I played, I’d build something, take it apart, and then build something new. In short, it was a toy for future design engineers, not writers, or artists, or other creative types.
When my dreams of life as a soldier flamed out in the fires of my mental health problems, I was left at odds. I genuinely didn’t know what to do with myself, eventually finding my way to mechanical engineering.
It turned out to be the most natural fit in the world, and I’ve been doing it for thirty years.
I spend a lot of time pondering nature vs nurture. Was I destined to be an Engineer, and my parents knew it instinctively, buying me toys that would both entertain me and hone the skills I’d someday need to earn my living?
Or did giving me engineering/design toys program me, right from grade school, to pursue my current path? Is that why I eschewed the more artistic side of my nature?
As a father to three bright, creative boys, I try to expose them to both the technical and the artistic. I don’t know if it will be their nature which drives their career choices, but I do want to make sure that nurture doesn’t limit their horizons.