Technical skills for Engineering

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QED
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Technical skills for Engineering

Postby QED » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:24 am UTC

Hey all, just had a question... I'm planning on majoring in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering. At the moment, I'm at a state college where I'm going to get my AA degree with the classes Calc I-III, DE, Phy with Calc 1 & 2 under my belt... I'm also doing the welding program at the college. I was wondering if learning how to weld will give me any sort of boost for an entrance to a university/scholarships/and most importantly a job in the engineering field? I've heard welding may be needed in certain senior projects but I'm not too sure and would like some comments from people from the field/experience please. I've heard learning how to weld to help you become an engineer is like saying well an architect should learn how to draw really well to be able to become one, meaning that it's pointless. Stick, MIG, TIG, and using the torch is taught with an NCCER certificate of completion. Comments would be much appreciated.

Chen
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby Chen » Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:02 pm UTC

QED wrote:Hey all, just had a question... I'm planning on majoring in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering. At the moment, I'm at a state college where I'm going to get my AA degree with the classes Calc I-III, DE, Phy with Calc 1 & 2 under my belt... I'm also doing the welding program at the college. I was wondering if learning how to weld will give me any sort of boost for an entrance to a university/scholarships/and most importantly a job in the engineering field? I've heard welding may be needed in certain senior projects but I'm not too sure and would like some comments from people from the field/experience please. I've heard learning how to weld to help you become an engineer is like saying well an architect should learn how to draw really well to be able to become one, meaning that it's pointless. Stick, MIG, TIG, and using the torch is taught with an NCCER certificate of completion. Comments would be much appreciated.


Its not a bad skill to have, but a lot of actual engineering work is not so hands on. Sure in school you'll have projects where you need to build things and welding will be useful there. In the job market, its rare you'll need to weld something if you're hired as an engineer. Perhaps in a small company designing and manufacturing you're own things, but overall welding tends to be more of a trade. You have people who specialize in welding and most firms will either hire a welder or just outsource to a welding company for those needs. Aside from professional welders the only common profession where you'd have a fair bit of welding would be auto mechanics.

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KestrelLowing
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:20 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
QED wrote:Hey all, just had a question... I'm planning on majoring in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering. At the moment, I'm at a state college where I'm going to get my AA degree with the classes Calc I-III, DE, Phy with Calc 1 & 2 under my belt... I'm also doing the welding program at the college. I was wondering if learning how to weld will give me any sort of boost for an entrance to a university/scholarships/and most importantly a job in the engineering field? I've heard welding may be needed in certain senior projects but I'm not too sure and would like some comments from people from the field/experience please. I've heard learning how to weld to help you become an engineer is like saying well an architect should learn how to draw really well to be able to become one, meaning that it's pointless. Stick, MIG, TIG, and using the torch is taught with an NCCER certificate of completion. Comments would be much appreciated.


Its not a bad skill to have, but a lot of actual engineering work is not so hands on. Sure in school you'll have projects where you need to build things and welding will be useful there. In the job market, its rare you'll need to weld something if you're hired as an engineer. Perhaps in a small company designing and manufacturing you're own things, but overall welding tends to be more of a trade. You have people who specialize in welding and most firms will either hire a welder or just outsource to a welding company for those needs. Aside from professional welders the only common profession where you'd have a fair bit of welding would be auto mechanics.


Agree. Engineering is largely hands-off - especially when it comes to that sort of thing. Some engineers will be able to build things like prototypes, but that's fairly rare. Some engineers don't even do CAD because there's a separate CAD department! (note that this isn't true for most companies) If a prototype is needed, there's usually engineers working with at least one or two mechanics or whatever is needed for that project.

If you're really bummed by that prospect, you may want to check out the tech degrees. For example, there are mechanical engineering technology degrees that tend to be more hands on. They also tend to be a bit less math heavy. They tend to straddle the line between full-blown engineer and technician.

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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby gorcee » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:01 pm UTC

Your mileage will vary, depending on the program. As a former aero/meche student, I was required to take a class learning how to weld, machine, sandblast, lay composites, etc. As a working engineer, do I ever do these things? No.

But, that's not to say that it's universally true.

One of my friends from college was a very hands-on type of guy. He studied mechanical engineering, used to rebuild engines in his dorm room, and was an expert welder. Still, his skills, abilities and passions allowed him to get a job with a company that specialized in power generation turbine development. His company installed underwater turbines in rivers as a research project, and he was one of the people that did the installation. So his involvement was from design phase to install phase. His experience was not only unique, but it was necessary. The installations were some of the first of their kind, so having an engineer down there in the muck, literally, capable of also doing the hands-on probably saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I needn't mention that he makes a shit-fucking-load of money.

Engineering is all about having skills. The more skills you have, the more options you have available. The more options you have available, the more opportunities you have, the harder you are to fire, and the more likely you are to be in demand by the job market and your employer.

So, do colleges care about these things? Kind of. Colleges don't actually really know how industry works, so they're going to look at your background and see your skills as being "an extra thing he does that is somewhat career/personality development related that goes above and beyond the average applicant."

On the one hand, showing some enthusiasm for something is good, so long as you don't pretend like you alone possess a magic bullet that will earn you $200k a year immediately after graduation.

On the other hand, most admissions departments are really fairly ignorant as to the quality and substance of extracurricular activities, so they may weigh equally to as if you, say, danced ballet.

In the end, the world is what YOU make of it. If you want to be the guy that goes out and develops experimental hoozenfloozens, and you are committed enough to that work to become involved at every phase, then you can make that job happen.

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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby engr » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:20 am UTC

If you have an opportunity to learn any machining skills, by all means do it. It can help you during your studies, it can help you to get a job, it can help you to do that job well.
First of all, I believe that a mechanical engineer should (maybe even must) have hands-on machining experience to avoid, for instance, designing parts that are unnecessarily hard to machine. Once you see many different parts machined, or, better yet, machine them yourself, you will be less likely to come up with a design which looks nice on paper but will require many hours and hundreds of dollars.
Fun fact: machinists despise engineers.
Another fun fact: in industry there are often not enough machinists. If you need something done fast, without paying thousands dollars for outsourcing and without begging the machinists to move your request higher on their priorities list (and, of course, all other engineers also need their stuff done by yesterday because they cannot complete other tasks without having parts ready), you may need to go to machine shop and do it yourself.
Unfortunately, I have little to no machining experience. Sometimes I wish I went to trade school before college or at least worked part-time at school machine shop.
Visiting machine shop a lot and being yelled at by machinists helped somewhat, but I still wish I could work a lathe and a mill.
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nehpest
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby nehpest » Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:45 am UTC

To throw my own 2c in, a fair number of the engineering majors I knew at community college took one or more welding courses on the principle that it's a nice backup skill to have.

To ask about another angle here, what sort of technical credentials are good "next steps" after a bachelor's degree? I've heard of things like LEED for mechanical/civil engineers, but that's about all I know. What options are available to other disciplines?
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby jmorgan3 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:42 am UTC

nehpest wrote:To throw my own 2c in, a fair number of the engineering majors I knew at community college took one or more welding courses on the principle that it's a nice backup skill to have.

To ask about another angle here, what sort of technical credentials are good "next steps" after a bachelor's degree? I've heard of things like LEED for mechanical/civil engineers, but that's about all I know. What options are available to other disciplines?


PE is essential for CivEs and some MEs, and a nice thing to have for the rest. Depending on the state, you may be able to get a PE for another discipline. That's about the only training/testing that you should pay for yourself. Once you get a job, you should take whatever training your employer pays for.
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nehpest
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby nehpest » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:19 pm UTC

Ah right, I've heard of PE. I'm electrical, but I was planning to go for California's EIT -> PE path nonetheless. One of the recruiters at my school told us to list on our resumes if we were even planning to take the EIT exam since "it shows initiative and a desire to better yourselves."
Kewangji wrote:Someone told me I need to stop being so arrogant. Like I'd care about their plebeian opinions.

blag

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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby Dark567 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:39 pm UTC

PE is absolutely useless to a CompE.... depending on what type of EE, it can be virtually useless.
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nehpest
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby nehpest » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:41 pm UTC

I'm thinking towards large-scale electrical works projects, and possibly similarly sized communications infrastructure projects. Thoughts?
Kewangji wrote:Someone told me I need to stop being so arrogant. Like I'd care about their plebeian opinions.

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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby Dark567 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:48 pm UTC

nehpest wrote:I'm thinking towards large-scale electrical works projects, and possibly similarly sized communications infrastructure projects. Thoughts?

Yeah, you should look at a PE. For a lot of EE things, like semiconductors, signal analysis, circuit design, etc. a PE isn't really useful. For 'larger' projects dealing with things like power and power transmission its important to have.
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

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nehpest
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby nehpest » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:56 pm UTC

Fair enough. Follow-up question, then: I've heard people, mainly non-engineers, claim that PE is a bad idea since it makes you personally liable for damages arising from a project. E.g., if my power plant explodes and kills somebody, the PE-licensed project manager shares in the legal repercussions. I know that signing off on a project as a PE makes me legally attached to the project somehow, but I'm hazy as to the details.
Kewangji wrote:Someone told me I need to stop being so arrogant. Like I'd care about their plebeian opinions.

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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby jmorgan3 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:30 pm UTC

Signing off as a PE does make you responsible for the project, but someone has to do it. If they have to hire someone else to be responsible for everything you do, they'll probably pay you less.
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QED
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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby QED » Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:29 pm UTC

Wow, thanks you wonderful people! Hehe.

KestrelLowing wrote:
If you're really bummed by that prospect, you may want to check out the tech degrees. For example, there are mechanical engineering technology degrees that tend to be more hands on. They also tend to be a bit less math heavy. They tend to straddle the line between full-blown engineer and technician.

I'll definitely look into to it, but I'm pretty sure I can handle the math that's going to be needed.

Again, thanks! I'll continue with the welding program. :)

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Re: Technical skills for Engineering

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:58 pm UTC

There is a wide enough variety of things you can do with CivE that PE is not always essential. Really depends on your specialization and career plans. /tangent
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