Technology = engineer?

Engineering, design and product development, information and media technology, production technology or community building and environment. The technology programme is a programme where everyone has to become an engineer, right?

Becoming an engineer was roughly what was expected of me when I studied technology at secondary school. At least by the vast majority. And until I actually started secondary school, I had probably also thought that it might be something for me. Someone who is good at maths, finding solutions to problems and coming up with great ideas. Everyone wants to be like that, right?

But it soon turned out that it wasn’t for me at all.  Not in the way my teachers wanted, in any case. I wasn’t the best at technology from a practical perspective. I understood nothing about carbon bonds in chemistry. Nor did I really get how electrons and protons moved in relation to each other.

Studying the technology programme and being interested mostly in Swedish, theoretical work and text was a waste of time. Well, that’s what many of my teachers thought during my secondary school years. But for me it didn’t feel like that at all. I wanted to study technology and understand things, but I didn’t want to connect, draw and program. I wanted to graduate from a broad programme that was well aligned to the businesses where I live. But I didn’t want to be an engineer.

During my time as a copywriter at an industrial company, I’ve met many young people who, like me, feel out of place and diminished because of their interests in relation to their choice of education. When I didn’t want to be an engineer and didn’t care whether my grade in maths was just a pass, I was often questioned.

When I talk to young people, who have also chosen to study a technical education, there are far too many who have the same experience as me: That it wouldn’t be good enough to just pass the programme’s core subjects and get a secondary school diploma. Far too many people are told that maths, technology, physics and chemistry are important life skills that you need to be something. And for some people that is the case, but not for everyone.

If it hadn’t been for choosing the technology programme, I would not be where I am today. And if I hadn’t decided that Swedish was my subject, I would not have got a job as a copywriter at an industrial company straight after graduation.

When I reflect on how my choices have got me to where I am today, I feel sad that so few believed in me and my dreams at secondary school. Imagine if someone had said that you could be something other than an engineer and still be important. Well, designers and programmers were indeed told that sometimes. But the rest of us, those of us who had no idea what we wanted or where we were heading, those of us who only knew that we didn’t want to be engineers, we often disappeared into the crowd.

So if you want to study the technology programme but don’t want to be an engineer. It’s okay. Technology, industry, innovation and design are also for you. And so is the future. No matter who you are or what you want to be. To all adults and parents, dare to stand up, even for those who don’t want to be what others expect of them. Sometimes it’s exactly what’s needed for someone to understand, or dare to see, that there are other possibilities.

With all due respect to those of you who are engineers: you are important, but society would grind to a halt if there weren’t people who chose a different path as well.

~ Industry greetings from Elin. “My name is Elin Elmersson and I’m an industry and technical communicator at the Gnosjö Automatsvarvning manufacturing industry. I’m also an industry blogger at Brave New Business. Come take a look!”

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