A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.
— Freeman Dyson
This is an interesting take on Making.
Sounds like Dyson was a prima donna that thought of engineers as minions.
@Grant-Fraser, interesting take.
Dyson certainly had a lot of original ideas, but I’m haven’t really read any biographical info that would point to him being a prima donna (but I haven’t read much on him at all).
I read the context as being, engineering is essential to make things actually work, and the more simple the overall design (utilizing well tested concepts), the better the chances of it working (initially and over its lifespan).
I might have been projecting there, but here is another quote I see as being related:
Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters.
— Casey Neistat
It makes me wonder how I ever get any projects done. The way some things captivate me. How I study and research subjects. Adding my own flavor, spice, or twist to my work. I guess it comes down to passion and flare. In the end I guess I get to make some pretty cools things.
@Ron_Ron, I think it is interesting to think about how many truly original ideas that a project might contain, and how many of them may be remixes of a lot of different elements from projects that have been done elsewhere.
I would say, if it can be studied and researched, then it can’t be a truly original idea. I think that it is possible to create original and unique objects by combining existing ideas. You do this very well.
Most of my successful projects have taken elements from other sources, and adapted them to incorporate other elements, or for production using a different method (which is usually the laser-cutter).
Most of my ideas that I would consider actually original, have been hard to implement due to being overly complicated (or just plain bad).
I think that creativity is a skill that can be cultivated—@Ron_Ron, you are a prime example of this. I also think that many people feel that they are not creative because they think creativity requires coming up with original ideas.
What the original quote leaves out, is that very few scientists have truly original ideas. When they do have them, they must engineer a study to prove them. So as @Grant-Fraser pointed out, maybe Dyson is a bit to self-aggrandizing with his view on good scientists.