Keeping That New Year's Resolution

For an RF/microwave engineer, a New Years resolution could be as simple as the resolution to get better as an engineer, family member, and friend.

By the process of discarding last year's calendar, many folks feel the urge to start life anew. It's as if a new calendar might give rise to an improved personality and an enhanced set of skills. In truth, resolutions can be made at any time during the year, although most find it convenient to start on January 1st. Unfortunately, most New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside not long into the New Year. Common resolutions include making regular trips to the gym for achieving improved physical shape, adopting a diet to shed a few pounds, or even saying goodbye to a bad habit.

But what kind of New Year's resolutions makes sense for RF/microwave engineers? Certainly, diet and exercise apply to all of us. But for an RF/microwave engineer, there is always the need to know more. No matter what the discipline—and there are many within the microwave industry including materials science, physics, IC design, circuit design and layout, and so on—only the most egotistical or self-deluded engineer would conclude that there was nothing more to learn. Creative engineers are searching for a better way, imagining connections not there before. An engineer who accepts a design methodology "because it has always been done that way" has sadly closed the door to change and has no need for a New Year's resolution.

For any New Year's resolution, there should be one guiding principle: that life moves forward (with us or without us). For an engineer— or any professional—this means growing every day. There is no limit to the knowledge that can be attained during a lifetime—even as our physical abilities start to wane. Firms that practice mentoring programs, for example, understand the value in passing along the knowledge, skills, and wisdom of their "more seasoned" engineers to the younger members of their staffs. The opportunities for less-experienced engineers in such programs are obvious. But what is less apparent, however, is the benefits that these mentoring programs can bring to older engineers in that sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from sharing knowledge and wisdom with those who may benefit from it.

For an RF/microwave engineer, a New Year's resolution could be as simple as the resolution to get better as an engineer, family member, and friend. Sometimes the student becomes the teacher. Take the time to help a co-worker with a problem or spend a bit longer to help a customer understand a situation, and growth will come. All the best during 2007!

Editor's Note: Go to to view the first episodes of Engineering TV. Each episode shows cutting-edge technology in action and looks behind the scenes as today's engineers shape tomorrow's breakthroughs. Two episodes will air each week.

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