Engineer, STEM Careers

9/11 Reflections

Disclaimer: This article is based on my own thoughts and memories from September 11, 2001. The featured image of the flag was found on http://www.almanac.com.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I was in my high school homeroom and I remember that our principal came over the intercom system to announce that a plane had hit the World Trade Center Building in New York City. She asked us to offer prayers to all the victims.

I remember wondering – what is the World Trade Center Building and also how would a plane have hit the building in such a large city?

I continued to my first bell class – English Literature. The TV was on and we were all watching just completely stunned by the tremendous amount of black smoke pouring out of the building that had just been struck by a commercial airplane. I saw several emergency vehicles arriving to the scene and people waving outside the broken windows for help.

The second plane hitting the second tower. Image from Businessinsider.com .

Then I remember seeing a flying object coming towards the second tower – Was it an emergency aircraft? Was it a large bird? As it struck the second tower, I saw the aircraft wings and realized it was another commercial airplane. My heart sank into my chest. Whenever I think back on that moment, I still feel my heart sink into my chest. It was clear to me in that moment that these incidents were not an accident. I was in complete shock.

I remember seeing people running from the towers scared, more emergency crews arriving at the scene to try to save people and the worst by far for me were the images of innocent people jumping from the windows out of desperation and plummeting to their death. I couldn’t watch anymore. I put my head on my desk and started to cry and pray. I prayed for the victims and their families, the first responders, our countries leaders and I prayed for God to save our country from whoever was trying to attack and kill innocent Americans.

Those images and feelings from that day will never leave me. The emotions I felt are still so fresh and raw in my heart and mind just like it is for many of us that were alive on that day.

One thing that my engineering education helped me with (which I hope to pass on to my children), was knowing how to move forward through tragedy by problem solving. STEM education trained me to look at failures (or tragedies) from a technical and data driven perspective in order to prevent them from reoccurring. This training, I feel, has helped me think more clearly in emergency / survival mode situations.

As a country, we’ve learned and changed a lot since 9/11/2001. Someday, I will be able to share my experience from that day with my children and also help them understand how our country changed after that. I also want them to know and understand that many STEM professionals over the course of several years helped analyze what happened (i.e. building structural failures, emergency response plans, medical analysis and healthcare for survivors, etc.) to ensure that this same type of failure would never occur again.

I want my kids to know that good problem solvers and their knowledge in their STEM professions – engineers, scientists, architects, doctors, etc. – are extremely important and that in their lifetime they may witness an event similar to this one that requires several problem solvers to come together and work in teams to find answers and solve a large problem.

The National Construction Safety Team Act (NCST Act) was signed October 1, 2002 by President George W. Bush to mandate the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to determine the likely cause or causes of the three building failures that occurred at the World Trade Center buildings in New York City on that day. The final report was issued in September 2005. I recently realized that there are some groups that disagree and are requesting the investigation be reopened by the NIST, including Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

My heart, prayers and thoughts go out to all the victims, victims families, the remaining survivors and the first responders from that day. I know that the memories from that day are still fresh in their minds.

Please share your memories with me from September 11, 2001. I would love to hear them.

May we never forget. God bless America.