KTM’s 16th anniversary—and 7 tips for aspiring engineers

This week KTM Solutions celebrates 16 years in business. We planned to celebrate big last year for our 15th anniversary, but our 2020 plans changed along with everyone else’s. So here we are, another year older and every bit as happy about year 16 as we were year 15. During the last year, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing who we are, what we care about, and where we want to go with it. One value that stood out is what we describe as the heart of a teacher: the desire to stay humble, to care, and to teach.


Almost from Day 1, we’ve made education a priority through our high-school and college internships, and to date about 40 interns have come through our program. At 16 years old, KTM is now about the same age as many students when they begin looking for internships in the field that interests them.


So we asked our team—engineers and non-engineers alike—about what it’s like to work with engineers and what advice they’d give to those of you who share KTM’s age and our excitement about engineering.


What’s it like working with engineers?


Chances are we’re all well acquainted with the common stereotypes of engineers—that they’re introverted (or, to put it unkindly, lacking in social skills), that they’re not creative types, or that they’re math nerds with narrow interests.


Those descriptions certainly don’t line up with our experience! Our COO notes that even if engineers tend to be introverts, “don’t let that mislead you in the fact that they may love what they do.” In fact, here are some of the top words KTM employees have used for their experience working with engineers: energizing, invigorating, fun, inspiring.


Word cloud based on KTM employees' descriptions of working with engineers
Word cloud based on our own KTM descriptions of engineering work

As our CEO elaborates, “Engineers are creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers. Because of this, I have seen surprising solutions to problems come to the surface as problems are being solved. I look forward to hearing their ideas and their thought processes as one idea triggers another.”


Our people have found that engineers’ passion for what they do allows them to “co-create something grand” and to “change what the future holds in science and productivity.” Together, they can “develop something that is bigger than what they could do on their own, building off the creative energy in the team.”


As one of our Mechanical Design Engineers put it, “When working with engineers, one is likely to witness a design process that can range from pure chaos to blissful harmony. Watching a team of engineers convert a pie-in-the-sky crazy idea into a functional and practical solution can be inspiring. Everyone in a team has a unique perspective and skill set, so when all of them are combined, good things are bound to happen.”


What advice would you give to a 16-year-old interested in engineering?


Our colleagues took this question to heart and came up with valuable advice. Here's what they had to say:


1. Work hard in math.

“Try to excel in every math class you are in at every grade level. If you spend the time now mastering the basic skills things will be easier when you get to the more difficult college courses.


2. Try it out.

“My advice to a 16-year-old would be...give engineering a try! See if you enjoy thinking through a problem, exploring ideas to solve it, bouncing ideas off fellow team members. Do you enjoy creative thinking or is it a mental strain for you?”


3. Be confident.

“Don't doubt yourself while entering college. If you CAN get an engineering degree, you probably SHOULD get an engineering degree. The variety of opportunities for careers in the engineering field are very extensive, lucrative, and much needed.”


4. Be a visionary.

“Engineering is a rewarding profession. You can make the world a better place by using your imagination and turning what’s in your mind's eye to a genuine product. The education process is not easy but the final benefits are rewarding. [If] the education is correctly applied, your engineering career will never be boring. Study hard, especially math and science. Be creative. Dream big.”


5. Give it time.

“I think something that impacted me a lot when I first started as an intern, and something that I preach to our high schoolers, is to learn how to take criticism. When starting out in the engineering field, generally our interns have little to no design experience or drawing experience. It can be discouraging to get a drawing back with a lot of red lines and marks on it for corrections. If an intern can humble themselves and keep from getting discouraged by that, they can learn from their mistakes and make better drawings in the future. It ends up making them really good engineers and great coworkers, and that goes for any field.”


6. Look for ways to help.

“There are so many opportunities for innovation in energy and transportation. We need many engineers working on these problems and future generations need this effort to be successful to have a good quality of life. Think of a problem that the world faces and how engineers can help solve it, and study purposefully toward tackling that problem.


7. Be curious.

“To become an engineer, you must first begin to view the world with a relentless curiosity. Put yourself in a position to learn as much as you can about your surroundings or the things you are interested in. Don't miss an opportunity to take something apart, fix something, or simply put yourself in the company of like-minded people with similar interests. Before you know it, your curiosity will start to join with creativity. Sprinkle in some math and physics and you may one day be able to change the world.”