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Mr. Spock, Passion & Engineering


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Some engineers believe that a dispassionate approach is always best, but using Mr. Spock and StarTrek, iFoundry's David E. Goldberg argues that passion is an important ingredient in the engineering life. In particular, emotion is important to engineering judgment and the ability to decide. The talk concludes with a call for engineers aware of emotional intelligence.

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Mr. Spock, Passion & Engineering

  1. 1. Mr. Spock, Passion & Engineering David E. Goldberg University of Illinois Urbana, Illinois 61801 deg (c) 2008 David E. Goldberg
  2. 2. From Pride to Passion <ul><li>Some engineers want to be emotionless like Mr. Spock of StarTrek? </li></ul><ul><li>Really smart guy. </li></ul><ul><li>Was logical & played 3D chess. </li></ul><ul><li>What was his weakness? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Myth of the Passions <ul><li>Emotions-passion something to be avoided or minimized: Stoics to rationalists. </li></ul><ul><li>Passions as something that happens to us. </li></ul><ul><li>Hydraulic metaphor: Have emotional energy, and it gets bottled up, then explodes. </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe this works for anger, but what about love? </li></ul>Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
  4. 4. Emotions: What Are They? <ul><li>If emotions are not things that happen to us, what are they? </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions are intentional: Oriented at objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions are judgments. </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain personal dignity and self-esteem. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Mr. Spock Revisited <ul><li>Wish you were emotionless like Mr. Spock of StarTrek? </li></ul><ul><li>Think again. </li></ul><ul><li>Captain Kirk was the better strategic thinker for a reason. </li></ul><ul><li>Spock had trouble making judgments. </li></ul><ul><li>Emotionlessness left him unable to judge. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Emotion & Judgment Interlaced <ul><li>Your emotions are the source of your ability to choose. </li></ul><ul><li>They are the wellspring of your values. </li></ul><ul><li>And they are source of your engineering judgment. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t want emotions run amok, but don’t deny their importance. </li></ul><ul><li>Development of emotional intelligence important to engineers at work. </li></ul>