Engineers must have characters above question. Millions are spent each year in the development of great undertakings, and the engineer's decisions may make or break a contractor. Remember that you are required to be the arbiter between two parties, and it is just as dishonest to make the contractor furnish more than the contract clearly calls for, as it is to allow him to do inferior work.
Character is the dominant factor in life. It is the only thing that leaves a permanent impression upon the men with whom you come in contact. Corporations and men of means are very careful as to whom they trust to spend their money, and unless your private life as well as your professional life will bear investigation, you will not gain the confidence necessary to enable you to reach the top of your profession.
It has been said that an engineer must be one-third mule to stand the work, one-third dog to stand the kicks, and one-third angel to keep cheerful, but I believe he only has to be all a man at all times.
To be a well-rounded man you must take an interest in matters outside your calling. Take an active part in all the movements that are being carried on so nobly for the benefit of your fellowmen; be a leader in your community in religious and philanthropic work. Willingly give a portion of your time to help those who have not had your advantages. You will not find such time wasted, as it will prove as helpful to you as to those you are trying to help. Let us not be so engrossed with our worldly affairs that we forget that "the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
If you have faithfully lived up to your opportunities, and yet do not seem to make the progress you desire or deserve, don't be discouraged, and don't jump from one thing to another hoping that you will suddenly "hit it rich" by some lucky chance. To succeed you must know some one thing thoroughly, and this you cannot do if constantly changing, so select your calling and then stand by it, through hard times as well as good times, and eventually it will be known where an expert in your line can always be found.
(Extract from the commencement address at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by H. W. Hodge, of Boiler, Hodge & Baird, consulting engineers, New York City.)
Source: Bureau of Public Works Quarterly Bulletin Volume 1 No. 4 Manila January 1, 1913