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Chadeeo
3rd Jun '11, 05:20
Hello everyone. I am new to this forum and joined because I'm hoping that this is the correct career choice for me. which brings me to my question: is this this the right job that I have in mind?

So I Have been searching all over for more information and it is all very vague as to what i will actually be doing as a mechanical design engineer . I want to design products on computers. More specifically cAdd like programs and be able to put them through stress test via the program and then send them to be developed and built. I want to drive a desk but I want to be able to build the prototypes aswell. So tell me, am I in the right place. What else will I be doing. What else do I have to look forward? Are there different degrees of engineers with different Pay grades? And what companies can I look into?

Can anyone help me decide if this right for me?

erkuehne
5th Jun '11, 17:27
Chadeeo,

You can be on the right track but there's a huge variance in the scope of the job. A lot of this depends on upon the size company you work for. Larger organizations are more likely to pigeon hole you. Small companies, particularly startups, will require that you wear a lot of hats.

I've been doing this for more years than I care to admit. I've seen very few people last this long. FWIW worth my experience is that, in a typical project, there's 5-10% really creative work up front. The rest is largely grunt work: writing specs, researching details, finding vendors, DOCUMENTATION, and so on. You will also find a great variance in design process requirements depending on your industry of choice.

The creative process and collaboration is really for fun me but the big kick is going back to manufacturing and seeing the ideas that came out of my tiny little brain get shipped out the back door. The key to being happy is that you can't hate the grunt work. It has to bring you a certain satisfaction. If you can get that you stand a pretty good chance of being happy.

You're question is complex. I'll leave it to others to address other aspects.

Good luck to you.

Chadeeo
9th Jun '11, 05:46
Right, so then where are some sites i can look to get an acurate discription of the job. And what are some companies that i can look into. i'm just looking for some acurate representaion of the job so that i can make a better informed decision.

Dana
10th Jun '11, 13:07
You say, "I want to design products on computers. More specifically cAdd like programs and be able to put them through stress test via the program and then send them to be developed and built." You should realize, though, that a CAD system is just a tool engineers use, just like a drawing board and T-square in an earlier era. Yes, there are people with the job title "CAD Operator"; in that earlier era they would have been called a draftsman.

Stress analysis, computer (usually finite element analysis, or FEA) or otherwise, is a whole specialty in itself.

Right now, I design assembly and test machines. I'm given information on what the machine needs to do, and the rest is up to me. I look at the requirements, and the product the machine has to handle, and come up with a concept. Maybe some paper sketches, then I start with the CAD model of the product and start modeling the machine around it. Then make drawings from the model, print them out, give them to the shop, and supervise the build and testing of the machine. A machinist makes the actual parts, but I sometimes help put it together, and either way I'm involved. On a big job I might work with another engineer, each working on one part of it. The electronic controls I sometimes do myself but more often I work with a controls engineer and let him handle that. Probably less than 25% of my time is actual CAD work.

Pay depends largely on experience.

Chadeeo
12th Jun '11, 22:39
You said that you are a Sr. Engineer. So what would I be looking at for an entry level position?

And you said the testing the designs is specific specialty. Is this something you would prepare foe in school or does it depend on your position in the company? And what other specialties are there?

Dana
13th Jun '11, 14:28
An entry level engineer might do much the same thing, but under the guidance of a more experienced engineer. The senior engineer might give the new guy sketches or ideas to work with and let him work out the specifics, then review it when it's done. Or the new guy might do simple drafting for the experienced guy. A senior engineer might be responsible for a large design, with junior engineers working on smaller subassemblies. A senior engineer might set up a series of tests (no specific course of study for testing, but if test or analysis is what interests you, you might take extra courses in those areas), and the younger guy would actually run the tests.

AdamW
17th Jun '11, 14:07
Chadeeo -

Yes, it sounds like you want to do Engineering.

What sort of things do you want to make? Often people specialise, in Marine or Aerospace or Automotive for example.

Once you graduate and get a job you can work towards a professional qualification such as Chartered Engineer. This implies a certain level of practical competence and the ability to work almost anywhere.

Chadeeo
20th Jun '11, 03:19
So I plan on doing my school in smal steps due to financial restraints. So what I'll be doin is a two year degree in mechanical design technology so that I can get a job in the industry. Then it will take one yea to get the engineering technologist degree, from there it is only two yrs to get the full engineering degree. So five yrs all togeather. Is this a good way to go about it? Or what else can I be doing to get thew most out of my time spend in school? What kind of education did you get that got you the tools that you needed to succeed and excel?

AdamW
20th Jun '11, 17:38
>> What kind of education did you get that got you the tools...

1. Read lots of books (any kind)
2. Do lots of maths problems (if you repeat it, you remember it)

Dana
21st Jun '11, 12:59
What kind of education did you get that got you the tools that you needed to succeed and excel?

Even though I have an engineering degree, I can safely say I learned more about real world design and engineering by building R/C model airplanes and cars (really built them, balsa wood and gas engines, not today's plastic toys) than I ever did in college.

Chadeeo
21st Jun '11, 13:16
What do youy mean by "real world" design and engineering. I would expect to learn everything that I'd need to know from the schooling, but is it not as acurate with what will be required from me in the field?

AdamW
21st Jun '11, 13:50
Dana makes a very good point. At least in the UK, 'education' is relatively weak on the 'hands-on' part of learning. Personally, I spent a lot of my time outside school messing about with electronic circuits, because it interested me. And I learned a lot of valuable stuff this way.

Dana
21st Jun '11, 14:35
What do youy mean by "real world" design and engineering. I would expect to learn everything that I'd need to know from the schooling, but is it not as acurate with what will be required from me in the field?

Engineering degree programs tend to be heavy on the math and theoretical. They have to be; there's a lot to cover. Classes in actual design are usually limited to the last year of a four year program, and even then they're not realistic. But depending on the field you're working in, you will likely find that you actually use a very small percentage of what you studied. If you work as, say, a structural analysis engineer for an aerospace company, you may use a lot of what you learned in school. Learning to solve the kind of real world design problems, OTOH, can only be learned by doing, whether you're building model airplanes, electronic circuits, or getting paid for engineering. It's why experienced engineers, even those without any formal engineering education, get paid more and have more responsibility than new graduates from the best schools.

Chadeeo
21st Jun '11, 20:52
Ok so, what should I be doing right now then? I am at a dead end job waiting for enogh money roll in to allow myself to enroll. In the mean time I'd like to get my feet wet and get in to a position to learn and get some experience. I know that I want to be in mechanical design but I'm not sure of which specific area inters me. Possable automotive. So whatcan I do or where can I start looking for an entry level possition? Any ideas?