Engineering is common sense. It involves some knowledge, but mainly the ability to take what you have and use your knowledge to achieve what you want to. You just have to pick out the important thing, and then solve the problem in the simplest way possible.
Of course, I make it sound easy. But I'm not an engineer, I'm just working with engineers this summer. And common sense is really hard to come by. Engineers have years and years of training, which means that they just see an easy solution to every problem. Common sense is not common, and it is not easy, and not everyone has it. In fact, it needs work to build it up until you can see all the simple logic that is staring you in the face.
Here are a couple of bits of common sense that people often overlook:
Don't take horse tranquilisers and think you are going to be ok.
Don't sell people weapons and then expect them to open fire only when and where you want.
Treat other people how you would want to be treated.
Environmentally, do the things that have no loss and only benefits. Take washing liquid... use Ecover and it will clean your dishes without polluting our water. Turn off things that aren't being used. Boil the amount of water that you need (it takes longer to boil more). It's easy to get hung up on details, do what is obvious!
Why do we have plug-sockets near the floor? Most appliances are used at around waist height, except a vacuum cleaner; people would unplug things they aren't using if it were easier. Put it by a lightswitch, then when you turn off the light, turn off your appliances.
Staying on the environmental theme... HSBC has apparently become carbon neutral. This means that they are planting trees or something like that, to offset their emissions. If they cut down on what they use, it would work much better. It's common sense to see that nature works well on its own, so why change it? A plane gives off carbon dioxide, and trees absorb it. So far so good. But you have to plant the trees in a place where there are no other trees or greenery, no buildings, the land isn't being used for something else, there has to be enough nutrients for the trees to grow... so where is this, precisely? Then, we forget that the plane gives off more than just carbon dioxide, it produces vapour trails for example, which contribute something else to global warming. Why not switch to envelopes that don't have the plastic window? That would save our precious oil, save on landfill, and probably reduce the carbon footprint too.
Go to bed when you are tired
like I am now... (and maybe I'll stop these stupid preachy blog posts)