When first read about coffee with an architect, it seemed like a good idea, and something similar would be good for engineering, such as an equivalent coffee with an engineer.  However, being classified by Engineers Australia as an engineering technologist, it becomes a more cumbersome phrase.  Personally I don’t care much for occupational classification, it rarely has anything to do with getting a job done properly and efficiently. It is humans that are intelligent, ingenious and adaptable, not some elitist occupational subspecies of humanity.

It also gets tiresome explaining to people who don’t really care,  the difference between an engineer and engineering technologist. After asking about the difference most people, just ask a final question, can you do the work? Often we also redirect people to builders or building designers, as these other suppliers have more appropriate resources, and in a better position to seek engineering if and when required. Though should note get better advice from a general builder than a specialist. For example if seek advice from underpinning specialist, then your problem will always be one that involves the need for underpinning. Whilst the general builder more likely to seek advice of engineer, then bring in underpinning specialist if required.

Rather than the issue being about occupations it’s about knowledge and business. The primary business issue is the logistics of supplying resources to the work. Whilst appropriate knowledge of the technology, and the science behind the technology, is important to providing something which is fit-for-function.

Industry and educators have been promoting the idea for more science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. This collection of subjects they have given the name STEM. Some have suggested the acronym should be extended to include the arts, to give STEAM. I favour the latter though some, have suggested this is a bad idea. I consider it is a good idea, to include the arts. Tradition was to refer to the engineering arts and sciences. The origin of most technology involves the mechanical arts. So art is an essential part of the exercise. After all could throw science out, as only really concerned with the mathematical aspects of science. Could throw engineering out as that is just science and mathematics applied to design of technology. Or could throw science and mathematics out as they are covered by engineering. Then again throw science, mathematics and engineering out, as our primary concern is technology.

The industrial revolution came largely from the mechanisation of agriculture followed by the mechanisation of industry. Following this the machines became self powered, as we moved from the machine age into the age of steam. It is that same kind of innovative revolution that we are seeking to replicate. A new age of STEAM. So the STEM of that revolution should grow into STEAM.

Therefore rather than have coffee with some member of an occupational group, have a hot coffee with STEAM. Local cafes, especially here on the Yorke Peninsula could have a STEAM corner, and organise for  a different person at some regular interval.  Agricultural science one week, building design another week, structural design at some other time again, more importantly someone representing an area of knowledge rather than an occupational group. The corner could be decorated with information posters covering the subject area. There could be an annual tour around each of the small towns of the peninsula.

So coffee with STEAM coming to a place near you soon?