Friday, December 4, 2009

Being an [Asian-American] engineer while maintaining a OUT-of-THE ordinary image? A STORY TO CONSIDER!!

Face it, this nation needs engineers.

Face it, Asian-Americans need a better image in the media other than the "nerdy, passive, desexualized, submissive, kung-fu fighting people," and need to step up to the plate in terms of the political identity and the entertainment world to tell people that we are regular people part of the American fabric with our own stories to tell.

Face it, engineers need a better image in the media so we can have more life-changing moments in our world.

What about the Asian-American engineer?

I hesitate to put race in the story, but I'm not talking about promoting a model-minority stereotype. I'm talking about promoting positive role-models in our communities through the use of the media.

My role models are engineers (especially civil engineers!), architects, urban planners. These are life-changing people that make a huge difference in our society!

However, it's a shame that engineers are stereotypically looked down upon as nerdy, unsocial, inflexible, and of course, have a "boring or difficult (well the difficult part is true) career" compared to business or any field relating to the liberal arts. These are the group of people our nation desperately needs, according to a Daily Review article I read about a few months ago.

My suggestion for the entertainment media (especially the heavily indie and growing Asian-American media) and directors is to really put emphasises on stories about engineers who make a difference in society. I grew up wanting to become an engineer through the crazy media I called the Internet, but that's because I spend a lot of my own time reading up stuff on architecture, civil engineering, and city planning; not everybody does that.

The focus of the Asian-American media is becoming extremely kick-ass and exciting. According to Hyphen Magazine's Summer 09's Action issue, back in the second half of the 20th century, Asian-American media as defined by Asian-Americans started out as saying: What the heck does it mean to be Asian American? The 21st Century Asian-American media is defined as just being: "Hey, I'm just being myself! Let me be myself and who I want, and I'm proud to be who I am."

Seriously, I can envision a kick-ass screenplay, movie, show, etc. coming out of this. An Asian-American engineer making a difference in the community. When's the last time an engineer has been glorified in the media?

I will be really happy if I see an Asian-American engineer being positvely portrayed in the media; I have respect for those Asian-Americans who choose to become artists, musicians, actors, politicians, business leaders, lawyers, teachers, leaders of non-profits -- the non-traditonal path astray from the pre-med, engineering, or science-like paths. This non-traditional path seems to be the direction the Asian-Am media portryal seems to want to take, as a way of avoiding the model-minority, nerdy, passive, unsocial stereotypes which plague Asian-Americans.

However, I challenge Asian-American media and Asian-American directors to really do something to give a positive portrayal of the As-Am engineer. Yes, engineers do tough, challenging stuff that nobody wants to do because the tough, challenging stuff makes things too hard and not fun. But, our world has very complex problems that have to be solved especially first through engineers.

This isn't just for Asian-Americans though; it's for everybody.

A bit of things to consider when approaching such a story:

- How realistic would be the portrayal of the engineer? It would look really unrealistic if an engineer came out 100% social and "Superman" like (not that any director will do that), but the director must show the challenges the engineers have to be accepted by society, and the huge challenges that engineers face. Those challenges must be conveyed in a heavily tangible manner so that people can relate to the engineers challenges and take the profession as more than a "nerdy profession".

- The human aspects of engineers; engineers are not just numbers. They have human stories; love, family problems, ethical questions about life, conflicts with different characters, etc. I often have very little time to read because the engineering cirriculum can be so challenging that I have to put my architecture // city planning reading in between my lunches and dineers.

- How willing are Generation Y Asian-Americans willing to accept engineers?

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