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Topic Title: Questions for any Engineers
Topic Summary: Some questions.
Created On: 08 January 2014 05:12 PM
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 08 January 2014 05:12 PM
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POEStudent

Posts: 1
Joined: 08 January 2014

I have a school project in which I'm to ask any engineers about their professions, work, motivations, etc.

So:

Please describe your engineering field.

1. What is your current job title?

2. Please describe your particular job and duties.

3. What is your average work schedule?

4. Starting with high school, describe your educational background chronologically.

5. If you had it to do over, related to your career or education, would you do anything differently?

6. What advice would you give to me as someone interested in pursuing a career path similar to yours?

Thanks in advance.
 21 March 2014 03:03 PM
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stevenpollok1987

Posts: 1
Joined: 21 March 2014

Right here goes;

I am now a Trainee Electrical Engineer, but I only started this job three weeks ago, previously I worked as a Power Operations Technician and an Electrical Maintenance Technician offshore for 8 years.

Completion of electrical engineering projects, starting from the initial project initiation, and initial cost estimates, usually followed up by surveys/reports, scope of work input, and a detailed design phase, create engineering requisitions for materials, liaise with vendors/client with respect to the proposed detailed design, help input into construction work packs, sign off all the related documents/drawings. This can basically be summed up in four phases, define-design-construction-close out. There is probably a bit more to it than it this, but I am only three weeks in.

I work 08:30 to 17:00 weekdays, but these are flexible i.e. if I get in early I can leave early.

I got four higher's in fifth year, but decided that I didn't want to stay at school, so applied for and got accepted into an apprenticeship as a offshore electrical maintenance technician, this took four years, and I gained a SVQ level 2 & 3, NC and HNC in electrical engineering. Now I am studying part-time for my BEng degree, and am in my third year at a Scottish university.

I would not have done anything differently because working offshore for the last eight years has given me a ground grounding in life/engineering, plus I got to make some good cash along the way.

If you like getting your hands dirty and doing a bit in a workshop/outside then think about giving the technician role a bash, but if you don't fancy that then it is probably best that you stick in at school and get into uni.

I hope this helps.

Steven
 21 March 2014 05:19 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Steven,

I am rather suspicious of the request for information for a school project above; mainly because I cannot envisage why the school would want pupils to make direct contact with adults for information about their experiences and qualifications, which is a private matter?

It would seem to be a rather irresponsible thing to do from the school's point of view and I would suggest that you consider withdrawing your response in the interest of your personal security.
 21 March 2014 06:01 PM
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Zuiko

Posts: 521
Joined: 14 September 2010

Maybe/Maybe not?

I used to work for a DNO, and they would go to the local school and talk about the work of engineers. From the people that generate it, to the people that maintain the network. Linesmen would go in and show them their equipment (kids loved climbing over the land rovers and trying on the harness); the field engineers would show them bits of equipment like fuses and cables. They would tell the kids what the work involved, and the science and technology involved. It was excellent I thought.

All the questions above would be questions that the school children would ask; and the teacher would set homework about the visit asking them to write down the answers to these sorts of questions.


If engineering was a private business, how could we get children involved.
 22 March 2014 11:17 PM
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mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Inviting engineers, firemen, etc to school visits to give talks to pupils is one thing. Asking them to go out and interrogate adults, to reveal their career history doesn't sound plausible to me. What happens if the pupil comes back and tells the teacher they couldn't get any feedback? Do they fail their project? It's up to the school to provide all necessary materials; books, internet searches, at school or at home; personal visits from experts, in school time.

Next they might be asking for credit card details and pin number.

Edited: 22 March 2014 at 11:34 PM by mbirdi
 23 March 2014 11:21 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Given the comments above, note particularly my answer to Q6

Probably too late for this poster (whether they are a student or a recruiter), but may help someone else...

Originally posted by: POEStudent
Please describe your engineering field.

Design and manufacture of electronic equipment for safety-critical applications.

1. What is your current job title?

Engineering Manager. Actually it depends which particular document or organisational chart you read; Rule 1: There are no universally agreed job titles in engineering. In fact job titles mean absolutely nothing, the same job title can mean totally different things in different organisations, or even within the same organisation. Don't get hung up on them. Role profile, responsibilities and salary are the important things. (But Rule 2: don't go into engineering to make money )

2. Please describe your particular job and duties.

Hard to know where to start. But in no particular order:
Product owner for a range of products: decide product strategy, discuss technical issues directly with customers, supervise design changes / improvements (occasionally if I have time and ther's no-one else available still do some of the design myself, as much for fun as anything else).
Lead manufacturing support and development team, just starting a huge new project to revolutionise our manufacturing process. Very boring to discuss down the pub, fascinating to be in the middle of!
Act as design consultant / advisor on specialist design issues, particularly safety design management and EMC. Represent company outside (e.g. on national standards committees) on these areas.
Allocate work. When new work comes in be able to judge its technical content and match it to available staff.
Line manage staff. Motivate, guide, recruit, counsel. Managing professional engineers is an interesting challenge - often compared to trying to herd cats. You need to let them go their own way as far as possible, but making sure they don't stray too far or bankrupt the company.
Crisis management. When the excrement hits the air circulator you need someone who knows just enough about the issues and just enough about the business to be able to make rapid decisions and to help everyone through it - and be prepared to take the flak if they've made the wrong decision.

3. What is your average work schedule?

Get up at 7:00. In work at 8:15. Run team meeting 8:15 to 8:25. Spend rest of day trying to escape from far too many meetings to actually get some management and engineering done in the meantime! Should leave work at 4:45, tend to actually leave rather later - partly because if you work somewhere with a good team spirit (which we definitely have) there tends to be a fair bit of chatting after hours.

4. Starting with high school, describe your educational background chronologically.

Started building electronics circuits at age of 14, thanks to a friend introducing me to "Practical Electronics" magazine (later graduated to "Wireless World").
In 6th Form took A levels in Maths, Physics and Further Maths, and also took classes Music, Sociology, Computing and self-taught for GCSE electronics.
Sponsored through University, spent a year beforehand on an undergraduate apprenticeship learning (to some extent) a huge range of manufacturing and engineering skills, which came in very useful much later.
Studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering at UWIST, Cardiff, excelled in first year, did...ahem...less well in 2nd and 3rd years due to extra-curricular distractions. Came out with a degree of sorts specialising in digital and control electronics.
Spent the next 18 years progressing in a series of roles in the radio broadcast, professional audio, and railway signalling industries. At age 26 project manager and co-designer of SL4000G series mixing desk which became the industry standard for recording studios in the late '80s/early '90s. Analogue team leader (despite having avoided analogue design at Uni!) for "ARC" extreme mixing desk project, resulting in being co-designer of SL9000J series mixing desk, last (so ultimate? ) large format analogue desk. Used the flexibility of working in engineering to relocate to SW UK for family reasons, moved into railway signalling industry. Worked as designer and then lead engineer on a range of safety-critical electronic design projects for the world market.
In my mid 30s obtained in quick succession IEng and then CEng. Had not been relevant in the pro audio industry, but were useful in the rail industry.
Decided I was getting more interested in people and less in processor speeds and decided to move into management.
At age 40 studied part time for Post-Grad Certificate in Engineering Management, run by the (sadly defunct) Engineering Management Partnership, which included the IET (IEE).
At age 43 studied evenings for A level psychology, specialising in Organisations and Education.
From age 40 to 50s became extremely actively involved in STEM education, including being an IET Schools Liaison Officer. (All of which sprang from leading a company team in the BBC's "Robot Wars".) I've written lots more about this elsewhere in these forums.
At age 49 obtained a patent with my team for "Detection system and method for railway track circuits using BPSK modulated coding"
At age 51 studied part-time for MA in management, through research dissertation on "The Application of Innovation Management Techniques to Safety Critical Product Development"
Plus a HUGE number of short courses on anything from software design to Health and Safety.
Now deciding what to do next!!!!

5. If you had it to do over, related to your career or education, would you do anything differently?

No doubt at all - I would concentrate on getting a good first degree. The fact that I was - frankly - a bit of a prat in some areas when I was 21 still means that my CV gets bounced at selection stages 30-odd years later. Highly infuriating, even though it was my own fault. If I ruled the world I would say that anything anyone does below the age of 25 should not be held against them later!

6. What advice would you give to me as someone interested in pursuing a career path similar to yours?

Firstly use this thread as an example: talk to as many engineers as possible. Engineering is a vast profession with a huge range of options. In fact, one of the joys (but also one of the problems) of engineering is that it has, in my opinion, more possibilities of different career paths than any other profession. So don't take any one person's story as "the" way to progress, and don't forget that anything you are told by your school, or university, or the IET is only part of the story - non of them see the whole profession.
Secondly: Never divide the world into "workers" and "management". For some reason - I don't know why - I never have, but I have seen so many engineers held back by this attitude. Take the attitude of "we are all in this together" and you can go far.
Thirdly: Work in an area where the application of the technology interests you. My apprenticeship was in process control, which I struggled with. When I moved into the music and then railway fields, both of which held a geeky interest for me, life was much easier.
Fourthly (and this is true for any profession): learn as much about everything as you possibly can! You never know when it might come in useful.
And every so often look back at what you've done and hence where you should go next, thanks for prompting me - I've been meaning to spend some time gathering my thoughts for a while now!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 23 March 2014 07:43 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
Secondly: Never divide the world into "workers" and "management". For some reason - I don't know why - I never have, but I have seen so many engineers held back by this attitude. Take the attitude of "we are all in this together" and you can go far.


Excellent point, it helps to avoid the 'them' and 'us' mentality which is often so damaging.

Fourthly (and this is true for any profession): learn as much about everything as you possibly can! You never know when it might come in useful.

Another excellent point; I tend to think everything learned comes in useful later even though it may not come out exactly as it went in. Much of what we learn is often modified by other things we learn or else have learned.

Not sure about the everything under 25 though, 65 would be better.

Regards.
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