I have adopted a technical mindset called the "Unified Skillset". I've deemed someone that does this a "Unified Engineer". To be a "Unified Engineer" is not a certification or milestone, it is a state of mind, and it is a journey. It is not for everyone, and it is not easy. It is my way of putting into words a certain type of engineer that I believe will enjoy great success in the future as technologists. The Unified Engineer is:
  1. Tired - the voracious need to assimilate new information or solve a problem comes at a price. Many things can be sacrificed to make this happen, but commonly it just ends up being sleep.
  2. Independent - The Unified Engineer may work with a certain vendor a lot, but that doesn't mean that they live and breathe by that vendor's good graces. The Unified Engineer's allegiance is to technology, and the truth about how it works, not the spewings of a marketing machine. The Unified Engineer knows to return to a "big picture" perspective once in a while so that everything can be held in the right context.
  3. A Teacher - The Unified Engineer is more aware than anyone that they are not the smartest person in the room. As a result, they crave to be surrounded by really sharp engineers and peers that they respect, so that they can learn from them. In doing this, they learn to pay it forward, and provide a teacher's perspective to those who don't have the same exposure or technical background.
  4. Energetic and Passionate - they cannot keep from showing their excitement over technology. This energy comes naturally, and cannot be contained - it will show in day-to-day conversations. Others will view this as being "nerdy" (as if that's a bad thing) when in reality, the Unified Engineer just loves what they get to do for a living.
  5. Resourceful - if he/she doesn't know the answer, you can be sure they'll find out in short order, and it will trigger a sleepless night of studying to ensure that they never have to research the subject on the fly ever again.
  6. Self-Motivated  - you don't decide to adopt the Unified Skillset without first having the discipline to get a few study habits nailed down. The Unified Engineer will have learned what it takes to get through a curriculum efficiently while still properly retaining the information learned. They will identify their own goals and pursue them, all without being asked.
  7. Software and Hardware - a Unified Engineer is not content with learning simply how bits are encoded on a wire, or what methods need to be written in what programming language so that an API call can be made. The Unified Engineer learns all the way up (or down) the OSI model. Maybe they're not an expert at everything, but they definitely know enough to have proper perspective.
This is a living page - if you feel there are other traits to look for in a Unified Engineer, feel free to share in the comments!