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Updated on December 28, 2016

Our 7000 years of accumulated knowledge about the natural world is vast and immense both in its depth and breath. Today, we are still making new discoveries about how Nature works and there is no end in sight. We document the knowledge in books so that the future generations do not have to start from scratch and can use the knowledge to build a man-made world that provide the livelihood for 7 billion people. How much and what a person knows influence how one makes a living. No one knows everything. A specialist is someone who knows a lot about a little; an expert on few subjects. Most people just know enough to get by. At the dawn of our civilization, there were only two fields of study – philosophy and religion. Today, there are more than100 major fields of study with each branching into many smaller fields.


It was not long ago that the family doctor can handle all our medical needs and issues. Today, the family doctor has become a generalist. Depending on the diagnosis, the family doctor will refer to one of the specialist for more detailed examination:

  1. Urologist – a specialist in the urinary tract,

  2. Cardiologist - a specialist in the heart,

  3. Pulmonologist - a specialist in the lung,

  4. Nephrologist - a specialist in the kidney,

  5. Dermatologists - a specialist in the skin,

  6. Ophthalmologist - a specialist in the eye, etc.

    To be a specialist like the Urologist requires 4 years of medical school, 4 years of doctorial studies, and 2 years of residence in a hospital. After all that, the person is ready to practice medicine in the public. In between seeing patients, the specialist is encouraged to read medical journals and attend seminars to be aware of the latest developments on the subject. For the generalist like the family doctor, the school trainings will be on the overall functions of the body to help the doctor arrive at a more accurate diagnosis in order to recommend the patient to the right specialist. Both professions are facing a daunting task of serving an expanding population whose bodies are ravaged by stress, pollution, improper eating habits, and lack of regular exercise.


Engineer applies scientific knowledge to design and build things that work the way they are supposed to (quality), without unexpected and unjustifiable failure (reliability), and for as long as planned (durability). Engineers are credited in making sure that our man-made world will not crumble when the ground shakes and the wind blows, will not stop functioning when the temperature goes to extremes, and will provide the material comfort for an ever-expanding population. To accomplish the tasks, we need engineers with specialized knowledge in building infrastructures, factories, and machines:

  1. Civil Engineer – specializes in the design and building of road, bridge, dam, etc.

  2. Chemical Engineer – specializes in the design and building of the processes that convert chemicals into useful products,

  3. Electrical Engineer – specializes in the design and building of the production and distribution of the electricity from the power plant to the consumers,

  4. Mechanical Engineer – specializes in the design and building of car, airplane, robot, etc,

    To be an engineer requires 2 years of college studying basic science and math followed by 2 years of learning the discipline and principle of the specific subject matter. Engineering is always an in-demand profession to modernize the man-made world and to make life easier for an exploding population employing the latest technological and scientific discoveries.


We know that knowledge is the key to our long term survival on Earth. We need to know all about:

  1. Earthquake, hurricane, and climate change to minimize their destructions to our life,

  2. Natural resource, clean energy, and healthy diet to make our life enjoyable,

  3. The origin, journey, and the make-up of the living to understand our life’s destiny,

  4. Art, music, and literature to instill meaning and purpose to our life.

    No doubt, this is a big area to cover. But, we have the place and the people to handle the tasks. The university is an incubator for the generalist and the specialist. Each person’s unique mental and physical capabilities will help one navigate through a sea of tongue twisting terminologies, brain teasing theories, mind challenging principles, and memory fogging technical dissertations. Some will find their true callings and go on to be part of the force that will push our civilization forward and enhance our chance of survival.


Not everyone wants and can be engineer, doctor, musician, writer, accountant, or teacher, etc. But, there are always people who are qualified to be good engineer, doctor, or teacher, etc. The natural world is filled with living things with specialized skill to survive the hostile, harsh, and unforgiving environment. There are:

  1. Bee that turns the nectar from the plants to honey,

  2. Cow that turns the grass from the ground to milk,

  3. Spider that weaves a web made of silk that can withstand wind and rain to trap insects,

  4. Cuttlefish that uses camouflage to evade predators,

  5. Squirrel is the only animal that is able to eat the seeds in the pine cone, etc.

    To create the man-made world and keep it functioning, we need to find and train people with the necessary specialized skills that cannot be found in the natural world. The other living things are born with the specialized skills for survival. We are endowed with the ability to learn whatever specialized skills needed for survival. Most importantly, each of us sees the world a little differently. Together, we are able to understand how Nature works and turn a life of searching for food, finding a mate to reproduce, and raising a family, to a life of enjoyment, excitement, and enlightenment.


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