As a Meath woman, perhaps I have a special appreciation for engineers. I grew up amongst megalithic tombs.
During every visit to the ancient sites I am struck anew by the extraordinary achievement. Thousands of years ago, a civilisation devoted itself to building massive stone structures designed to capture precisely the movements of the planet in relation to the sun.
Who knows how they measured or planned the monuments, but they still stand, accurately recording the equinoxes. The enduring power of engineering.
So I'm all for Engineers Week, which promotes engineering, especially in schools around this time every year. The world around us depends entirely on engineering - all our infrastructure, from roads to water to electricity to transportation and of course computing.
But the image of the industry doesn't match its achievements or importance.
There aren't exactly any celebrity engineers, which is strange when you think about it. It's even stranger when, as Ireland's former permanent representative to the UN David Donoghue pointed out during the week, that engineering had "a clear role to play to ensure that everyone in the world has access to clean water, sanitation, reliable energy, and other basic human needs".
As climate change poses such an enormous challenge, providing these needs is going to get harder.
Donoghue was speaking at the launch of a new Engineers Ireland report on the sector's future. It concludes the education system needs to generate many more engineers.
I'd love my sons to be engineers but they probably won't be. That entire range of career options was shut down to them when they were 12 years old.
That might seem like a dramatic statement but it's true. The reason? Maths.
There's no getting away from the fact that if you want to do engineering, you need a certain level of competency in the subject.
My eldest son was good at maths in primary school, although his confidence was never great. When he went to secondary school he found the transition really hard.
Mostly that centred on the logistical confusion of having to move from one classroom to the next, new books for each subject, and a stressful changeover at a too-small locker in a too-crowded hall.
Academic achievements went out the window as he tried to cope with the new system. He did get used to it in the end and is now happy in the school.
But I was dismayed to be told just a few months into his first year that since his maths had collapsed it was clear he'd never do honours for the Leaving Cert.
Therefore he might as well give up honours now and stick to pass for the Junior Cert.
I was really upset. In every other subject he had a chance to mature and improve. But for something as important as maths, he was being told in the most challenging year of his young life that it was game over.
I couldn't believe that at 12 years of age a whole range of options and careers was being cut off for him.
When I arranged to get him some grinds to catch up, he argued there was no point. If the teachers knew he was no good at maths, then he was obviously no good at maths and I should just let it go. That's really got to me.
What could I do? I let it go and he dropped down a few classes. The real shame was that within a few weeks, the slower pace of the new class did give him the chance he needed to understand what was going on.
Tentatively, he told me after a while that he thought maybe he was not so bad at maths after all. He was moved into a better stream, but still at pass level.
I honestly believe that if someone was willing to teach him - and many others like him - he would be capable of doing much better at the subject.
The system of condemning children to the "pass" stream is normal throughout the entire secondary system. That's where your generation of engineers is disappearing.
We are too fast to say someone is not good at maths when all research suggests that the problem-solving skills in maths are skills all students can develop and use if they are taught well.
But teaching is the problem.
There's a huge shortage of maths teachers and schools have terrible trouble trying to recruit them. There's actually a problem trying to recruit all kinds of teachers.
When the economy is buoyant, graduates tend to leave teaching for better-paying careers. This problem is particularly acute with Stem graduates, who can earn a lot more money in industries outside education. To add to that, teacher training is a lot longer and lot more expensive than it used to be.
The two-year professional masters programme (PME) for second-level teachers - which replaced the old nine-month H Dip some years ago - costs more than €12,000 for fees alone. That actually makes it more expensive to train as a science or maths teacher than a doctor.
So with not enough teachers, not enough time to teach and a system that gives up teaching too many pupils, it's no wonder we can't produce the engineers we need to solve the world's problems.