Becoming a Storyteller
A personal statement from Ryan Bailis
Most people imagine someone sitting at a desk on a computer when they think about engineering. I want to be an engineer, but sitting at a desk is not for me. Instead, I am a storyteller, showing through prototypes, explaining through documentation, leading by example. I’m telling the story of why engineering and technology will impact the world.
I love tackling deep-seated problems and developing solutions that enable people to live happier and healthier lives. I enjoy writing code and creating scalable solutions to reach as many people as possible. I appreciate how business and engineering work together seamlessly to bring ideas to market. But all of these ambitions are worthless outside of the context of humanity.
People think engineering is impassive and factual while storytelling is empathetic and personal. In truth, engineering and storytelling are not so different. As society has progressed, technology has played a key role in defining the human condition. Just as a novelist speaks through text and a photographer illustrates through pictures, engineers develop novel solutions blurring fiction and reality. Our profession, one that ignites tremendous progress and achievement, is what gives me incredible inspiration to create.
Prosperity in an unpredictable world will require more problem-solvers. The engineer who does not leave their desk cannot greatly impact the world. However, the engineer who goes to collaborate with policymakers will define the future. The engineer who travels the world to explore different cultures will build the future. And the engineer who rises up to mentor young makers will inspire the future.
Combating preconceived notions about what pertains to engineering will propel our modern world. This is what I am passionate about. Why? Because true innovation requires dramatic action on all fronts. Engineers need to tell the story of the people we are designing for. We need to empathize, understand, and co-create with our users.
Engineer in practice, storyteller at heart. This is me, and this is how I will impact the world.