How do you change the world? Tinker with it.

It was with some excitement that I recently read an
article in The Wall Street Journal
stating that “tinkering is making a comeback.”
That piece was followed a few days later by a similar one
from National Public Radio
. A bit closer to home, there have been over
130,000 downloads this year for the SolidWorks Student Design Kit. And here’s
an interesting fact–the number of high school students downloading the SDK, an early indicator of
trends, is greater in volume than graduate school
students.

Here's a real-world example. Recent MIT graduate Greg Schroll is taking tinkering to new
heights, inventing a spherical robot that can do the unthinkable – roll uphill
and over steps.
If you’re a reader of Popular Mechanics, you may recall that Greg was recognized
as one of the 10 Most Brilliant Innovators of 2009.”

These days it may be cooler to have a sub-$500 milling
machine in your dorm room than that old electric guitar. So, why the renewed
interest in engineering? What I hear from the schools is that today’s students
want to change the world for the better–be it alternate forms of energy or
new means of transportation. And they know that today’s problems won’t be
solved by the politicians; rather, they will be solved by the engineer–now
affectionately tagged as “the tinkerer.” 

If you're a student or a teacher, I'd love to hear what you think.

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