This Thursday most of us will be sitting around a table telling each other what we are most grateful for this Thanksgiving season. Many responses will probably be friends and family, food and the new Star Wars movie. As an engineer there is a unique set of tools, programs and people that I just can’t live without. And although they may not make it to the dinner table this week, I want to make sure they get the praise they deserve.
As an engineer, here is what I can’t live without:
Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. If you have a technical problem with some code you are writing, there is a good chance it has been solved already and the answer is waiting for you on Stack Overflow.
- Safari Books
Safari Books is an online library of thousandths of technical and business focused books. Before Safari come along, you had to go to a book store and purchase big think technical books. With Safari you can read them online or download them onto your cell-phone or tablet of choice. Just think of all the trees this saves.
This one doesn’t need reasoning.
GitHub is the world’s largest collection of open source software. It is an invaluable education and business resource. GitHub hosts the source code for millions of projects, meaning anyone can read the code used to create those applications. Because GitHub also archives past versions of source code, it’s possible to follow the development of a particular piece of software and see how it all came together (source, Wired).
- Alan Turing
Alan Turing was not a tool but without him the field of Computer Science and therefore the tools we use today may not exist. He was a British pioneering computer scientist and was highly influential in formalizing the concepts of algorithm and computation. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. During the Second World War, Turing worked at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking center. Turing played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted Enigma machine coded messages. It has been estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by 2 to 4 years.
Fellow engineers, does this represent your priorities as well? What other tools, historical developments and applications are invaluable to your work?