Welcome to the second in a series of articles wherein I attempt to build the ideal crew for a ship, using characters from the many variations of Star Trek. To be a candidate, all you need is to be a series regular on one of Star Trek‘s TV incarnations, from The Original Series onwards. Whether you’re on a starship or a space station, you’ll need someone to keep it going, so this time we’re looking at engineers.
Candidate 1: Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Scotty knows what he’s doing. When it comes to the Enterprise engines, there’s no one you’d rather have in control. However, his long years of service alongside the same equipment do make him a specialist rather than a generalist. Throw him out of his comfort zone, and he’s suddenly a lot less efficient. I’m also mildly concerned by just how attached he is to ‘his’ engines.
Candidate 2: Geordi la Forge
La Forge is the miracle worker who set the baseline for engineers throughout Starfleet. While these high expectations are overall detrimental to the organisation, in la Forge’s case they are usually fulfilled. The man is absolutely dedicated to his work, slashing through deadlines like there’s no tomorrow. This dedication is perhaps my only concern, as his personal life does suffer in comparison. Though a decent person, there are a few notable stumbles in the interpersonal department that may be a cause for future concern.
Candidate 3: Miles O’Brien
In terms of pure ability, O’Brien is up there with the best of them. While everyone else on this list works with cutting edge equipment, O’Brien wrangles the same results from ageing alien technology. His sleeves-up, give-it-a-go attitude is just what a Starfleet engineer needs. However, Miles O’Brien should not be allowed anywhere near a stressful environment on account of the sheer trauma he has endured. Trauma including a thirty-year prison stint, multiple possessions by unknown forces, and that time he died. Skilled though he may be, the man needs a break before he completely snaps.
Candidate 4: B’Elanna Torres
Torres is another who ranks highly in pure skill. She also earns considerable credit for her refusal to pad out estimates of repair time. Combining the best aspects of O’Brien and la Forge, Torres is the one you’d want by your side in tough times. However, her bluntness is not always to her advantage. A frosty coworker with a history of violence, Torres has been known to lash out when under stress. There is also the small matter of her Maquis history. While not an issue on her Voyager posting, terrorist sympathies should always be taken into consideration when recruiting crew.
Candidate 5: Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III
Of all the candidates on this list, only Trip Tucker has experience in truly keeping a ship going against the odds. The NX-01‘s flight through the Delphic Expanse speaks wonders of his ability to perform makeshift repairs. Anyone who can perform that level of engineering would be a welcome member of any crew, and Trip has the interpersonal skills to make any crew bond quickly. However, he also has a habit of involving himself in the affairs of other species, sometimes with tragic events. The Cogenitor incident is a prime example of this, but trips reckless enthusiasm for new experiences has also led to other issues, including himself becoming pregnant. A good engineer, but perhaps one in need of a tighter leash.
Candidate 6: Paul Stamets
Stamets may not be the chief engineer of the Discovery, but he is certainly one of its most valuable members. His unique bond with the spore drive makes him quite literally irreplaceable. However, he has a tendency to throw himself into his work to the detriment of relationships both personal and professional, the effects of which cannot be overstated. When he gets the work/life balance right, however, there are few people better qualified.
Candidate 7: Andarithio Billups
The unassuming chief engineer of the Cerritos, Billups turns up and gets the job done with minimal fuss. He may not cover himself in glory, but a willingness to face danger and a genuine fondness for those who work with him make him a strong candidate for the posting of chief engineer.
Honorable Mention 1: Reginald Barclay
Lieutenant Barclay has the skills to be a great engineer. What he lacks is the mindset. Clearly suffering from extreme anxiety and hypochondria, not to mention an obsession with holoprogrammes, Barclay is better suited to life on a research station than on the frontiers of space exploration.
Honorable Mention 2: Rom
Despite a questionable past and some less-than-favourable family ties, Rom is a perfect team player, happy to help out but never seeking fame and attention for himself. he may not have what it takes to head a department, but he would be a valuable member of any team.
Honourable Mention 3: Jett Reno
Wisecracking and amiable, Reno is something of an enigma in terms of official position. Nevertheless, she has a proven capacity for dealing with the unexpected, and rivals Tucker for her sheer inventiveness.
Honorable Mention 4: Samanthan Rutherford
Inexperienced though he may be, Rutherford has all the hallmarks of a great engineer. With intimate knowledge of a ship after only a short term of service, his attachment to machinery is equalled only by his loyalty to those he serves with. Ready to give his life to save others, Rutherford would surely be welcome on any ship.
There are a lot of strong candidates here. Engineers on the whole seem to be a stable group of people, and the real weakness seems to be engaging with other sentient beings. With that in mind, I’d split the difference by taking Geordi la Forge as my chief engineer, with the young Samanthan Rutherford as his aide. Ending up with two cyborgs running engineering wasn’t my intention, but perhaps that bond would strengthen their working relationship.
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