Hello everyone. This is the first time I've posted on here, and I've just finished my Columbia essay on what makes me want to be an engineer [which you probably got from reading the title of the thread].
I'm sort of concerned there is too much technical jargon in the essay that is only specific to Tesla Coils, and I am worried that it may be somewhat difficult to understand unless you've had some experience with these machines.
Anyway, I would very much appreciate it if you guys could read over what I have and comment on how it is. Thank you everyone.
Meddling with Metals
Adjusting, coiling, grating fingers over red-insulated copper wire as it wraps around six feet of PVC piping; connecting the wire to aluminum and copper surfaces, and completing the circuit by attaching the primary coil and LC-circuit to the neon-sign transformer. The machine turns on, the spark gap screams a cacophonous yell, and sparks discharge from the secondary coil, the wrong surface. This malfunction, ironically, began my fervor for electrical engineering.
I was building a Tesla coil for my physics study, and after the first test, the machine wasn't working; it was the first sizable setback in the weeks of building. Though the failure was initially disappointing, in retrospect, I very much appreciate it. I spent the next several days tinkering with solder connections in the capacitor plate; the spacing of copper in the primary coil; the connections between the wall-outlet and ground-wire to the transformer; and the placement of the toroid itself. I found myself refreshed by the prospect of not following design, of trying new methods and formulating my own, albeit not-always-intuitive, directions.
Engineers talk about solving problems, and the opportunity to change and innovate a design, as well as to alter a technology for arbitrary and non-specific purposes, is not only exciting to me, but something I could enjoy for the rest of my life. The Tesla Coil project, in having complications, allowed me abstraction that diagrams and itineraries couldn't prepare for. And so I've come to relish a problem, bask in a failure, and meddle like an engineer, until new problems arise.