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You've heard of Engineers, I'm sure. But, what are Engineers? Well, it turns out that they're all kinds of people doing all kinds of neat work! Want to be one? Well, join Sabrina in this episode of Crash Course Kids where she talks about what they do and why they do it!

This first series is based on 5th-grade science. We're super excited and hope you enjoy Crash Course Kids!

///Standards Used in This Video///
3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

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Executive Producers: John & Hank Green
Producer & Editor: Nicholas Jenkins
Cinematographer & Director: Michael Aranda
Host: Sabrina Cruz
Script Supervisor: Mickie Halpern
Writer: Kay Boatner
Consultant: Shelby Alinsky
Script Editor: Blake de Pastino

Thought Cafe Team:
Stephanie Bailis
Cody Brown
Suzanna Brusikiewicz
Jonathan Corbiere
Nick Counter
Kelsey Heinrichs
Jack Kenedy
Corey MacDonald
Tyler Sammy
Nikkie Stinchcombe
James Tuer
Adam Winnik



How do we get around from place to place without having to walk everywhere? How can we communicate with people who live far away? These were problems that people struggled with for a long time, until recently, before there were things like cars and phones and computers. And you know who solved those problems? Engineers. 

But do you know what an engineer is?

 Big Question

The short answer is that an engineer is someone who wants to know how and why things work. Now, I want to know how and why things work, but does that make me an engineer? Not quite.

Besides being naturally curious, an engineer is a person who designs and builds things, like machines or systems or structures, that help solve a specific problem. There's more than just one type of engineer, too. But no matter what type of engineer someone is, they have to ask themselves three very important questions when they're working.

Number one: What is the problem that needs to be solved? And number two: Who has the problem that needs to be solved? And most importantly, number three: Why is this problem important to solve? Let's take a look at some examples.


A really famous example of engineering is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. I mentioned that there are different kinds of engineers, and a civil engineer is someone who designs and constructs buildings, roads, and, yup, bridges.

For the person who designed the Golden Gate Bridge, what was the problem that they needed to solve? People couldn't travel in or out of San Francisco, which is surrounded on most sides by water, without a boat.

Who had the problem? Residents of San Francisco, mostly, but really anybody traveling in the area.

And why was the problem important to solve? Well, you didn't want a whole bunch of San Francisco residents trapped in San Francisco forever, even if it is a super cool city. Plus, you wanted people outside of San Francisco to be able to travel to the city easily if they needed to. So the Golden Gate Bridge was engineered as a solution to this problem.

In addition to civil engineers, there are also mechanical, electrical, chemical, computer, nuclear, and software engineers, and the list goes on. Let's talk about what some of the other types of engineers do. First up, electrical engineers.

Electrical engineers study electricity. They design electrical systems like circuits and computer chips. Think of an electrical object that you use pretty regularly. How about your microwave? What problem was the microwave a solution to? Cold food, right? You have an electrical engineer to thank for the ability to reheat that leftover pizza you just had for lunch. 

But while you might not have heard of Joseph Strauss or Percy Spencer, the engineers responsible for the Golden Gate Bridge and the microwave, respectively, you've probably heard of Henry Ford, as in Ford cars.

Henry Ford was an mechanical engineer, or someone working in the manufacturing industry, making mechanical things like tools, engines and machines, machines like cars. Ford didn't invent the automobile, but his Ford Motor Company made a lot of them. His Model T car was famous for being affordable for plenty of Americans.

Ford saw that lots of people who wanted to drive cars just couldn't because they couldn't afford the pricey vehicles that were for sale, so he engineered a cheaper model as a solution to this problem. His fellow engineers started to do the same, and now, well, cars are everywhere.

Henry Ford's not the only big name engineer. A famous engineer around today is Marissa Mayer. Mayer is the president of the Internet company Yahoo and is also a software engineer.

Software engineers work on computers and other products that use software to write programs to make them faster and able to do more things.


No matter what kind of engineer someone is, their job at its most basic level is problem-solving. Each engineer just specializes in solving certain kinds of problems. While it might seem like there are too many types of engineers to keep track of, just wait 15 years, or 50, or 100 because we'll probably have a ton of different types to add to the list by then.

Think about it. Over a hundred years ago we didn't have jobs in fields like aerospace engineering, where people design and construct planes and spacecraft. We didn't have planes like we do today or need spaceships, so we didn't need people to engineer them. Who knows what machines or tools or everyday objects we'll have in the year 3015. Personally, I'm hoping for underwater cities. 

But whatever these things are, we'll need engineers to make them. So what do you say? Who wants to be an engineer?