Engineering Zeal: An Ode to Data



Fatima Sheikh, ADG Systems Engineer, Software, R&D, NI

Once there was an engineer…

And she loved data.

And every day the engineer would access her computer. 

And she would peruse new data and dream it into life changing innovations.

She would add up all the numbers she collected

And spend hours designing electric vehicles and modern rocket ships,

Trying different methods to accelerate the innovation cycle.

And when she was tired, she would rest, knowing one day, 

She’d finally discover solutions that would make testing, measurement, and analysis of modern technology better for everyone.

And the engineer loved the data. Very much. 

And the data was happy.

But time went by. 

And the engineer grew more sophisticated and more stressed. 

And the data grew larger and more inefficient. 

Then one day the engineer came to the data, and the data said, 

“Come, Engineer, come dive into my records and stretch the boundaries of space, renewables, consumer electronics, and software, and be happy.”

“I’m too busy to continue to start over and rely on dated processes and tools,” said the engineer. 

“I want to help more of humanity. Can you help me?”

“I’m sorry,” said the data. “I can’t help more than I am, as I am only numbers. But I can provide more insight, Engineer, if you shift to software-defined systems. Then you will have what you need, and you can be happy.”

And so the engineer designed a more intuitive, less-structured development environment, and the engineer’s productivity and output greatly increased. And the data was happy. 

And the engineer stayed away for a long time, and the data started to go idle. And then one day, the engineer logged back in. The data jumped for joy and said, “Come, Engineer, come search through my records and imagine again what can be created and be happy.”

“I’m too tired to keep manually testing data,” said the engineer. “I need more ideas to grow, and I want to work faster,” she said. “I want to create, fail, and create again. Can you give me a modern lab?”

“The cloud is my home, but you may design flexible solutions to create what you need and use it to innovate faster," said the data. "Then you will be happy.”

And so the engineer made the data available to everyone, attracting a worldwide community of third-party developers, systems integrators, scientists, and creative problem-solvers who could extend her capabilities and connect bold ideas, people, and technology together. And the data was happy.  

But the engineer stayed away for a long time. And when she came back, the data was so happy it could hardly speak. “Come, Engineer,” it whispered. “Come and dream up the extraordinary.”

“I’m too tired to dream alone,” said the engineer. “I want new approaches and diverse perspectives from people I can dream with that will take me far away from the day-to-day grind of data discovery and offer new ways of imagining the world. Can you give me those things?”

“Invite new and diverse collaborators who can offer different views to your projects,” said the data. “Then you can stay away and be happy.” 

And so the engineer took the numbers, welcomed different, diverse perspectives, and stayed away. And the data was happy. And the engineer was happy, and she loved the data. Very much.

*Poem written in the style and appreciation of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree