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Place: upstairs in the second grade class, where I volunteer weekly.

Event: a special class exercise on the making little sailboats out of recycled things.

Lesson: learning that engineering is about improving things and trying them out.

When the teacher asked the class if they knew any engineers, one had a grandfather who he helped with building a playhouse. Another student said engineers were guys who walk on cars. It was surprising that no one mentioned the train engineer. All the kids were surprised that designing a little boat from a Styrofoam tray, a bit of clay, a popsicle stick, and a piece of paper for a sail, would qualify them as engineers. I guess it surprised me, too. Never learned that in second grade.

Well, not to be outdone, I thought about my own engineering prowess while driving home. Actually, I am quite experienced – I have constructed countless toothpick and marshmallow structures, not to mention pencil windmills, and card houses for kids. My finest engineering feat could quite possibly be gingerbread houses. And I do not even need a degree. Just lots of candy and frosting. Happy engineering of your own!