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Mahesh Reddy: It takes imagination to be an engineer

From a speech by the Boeing aerospace engineer to a Nasa conference in California

It's funny that a majority of engineers, mathematicians and scientists don't think that they have the ability to be creative. They see themselves as mainly technical analysts with virtually no creative abilities. I have, on the other hand, found it to be quite the contrary. To me, it takes ingenuity, imagination and creativity to design complex systems that travel into space and withstand its harsh environment. To accomplish what they say is impossible takes maths and science.

The naysayers said that men couldn't fly. And then we built jet aircraft. They also said that we couldn't go to the moon... well, we did. They said just a few short years ago that destroying an enemy missile once deployed was impossible – and we've again proved them wrong. In fact, we're able to destroy an incoming enemy missile with an interceptor travelling at speeds in excess of 15,000mph in space. We have accomplished what they said was impossible. And maths, science, and creative thinking brought us here.

It's not enough to add or subtract; it's not enough to multiply or divide; it's not enough to analyse or experiment. It's how we apply these results and how we communicate these results that make the difference.