The Joy of Engineering


Where is the zest, the gusto, the joy, the love and hate and anger and lust and emotion!? I didn’t learn to bioengineer to make a career, I learned it because it was fun. Because I love it. Many people have other things they love - writing, dance, poetry, film - but this is what I love. And yet I look around, and people don’t care. This is a career. But no. Stop that. I live here.

I go out, and I see people making careers. I love going to iGEM because those damn kids haven’t lost it yet. The it that made me start doing all of this. The beauty that stays, independent, from impact, and money, and my ability to pay the rent. To me, the fabric of life is like the artist’s canvas, or the writer’s empty pages. And I think there is beauty in painting and sewing this fabric. I don’t view my life’s work as valuable from a human health perspective or industrial manufacturing standpoint or any other endpoint. I view it as important because it is fun.

But now, now I see the structure of it all, the way academia manufactures fresh blood for the machine, fed with bright-eyed graduate students, undergraduate students, and tax-payer funded research. I see the venture capitalists calculating ROI, and the public SEC filings and the incestuous inbreeding of money to create more money, and I see the brave few who stay to pump out papers from faceless grants for impact factor.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been on the side of freedom, equity, and decentralization of biotechnology. Why? Because I want to see lots of other people having fun like I’ve had! What about societal impact, you may ask. Biosafety and national security and the climate and the economy?! Noble endeavors for men and women more noble than I. Let me enable those who care about those things to do their best work. Allow me to share the joy I feel and may it bleed into their labors.

What are we missing most in the world? It’s not money or resources or energy. It’s people who care. It’s such a limited resource everywhere you look. It’s so valuable. People who really fucking care. We need you! And if you’re a person who cares, don’t just take the safe route. There are too many people who value other things that are already doing that. Live risky; live for you; live against all odds. Throw caution to the wind; don't act as if you are a statistic; don't just be a statistic. You have one chance: make it count. Make it fun.