Posts in category: ‘Career Development’

To Manage, or Not to Manage, From the Perspective of a NASA Engineer

When my first engineering internship turned into a full-time job after graduation, my supervisor called me in for a chat. He wanted to talk about possible opportunities in the company, and give me some advice based on his experiences. When he asked me where I saw myself in five to six years, I told him I expected to be in management. I didn’t have the gall to say it to his face, but basically I figured I wanted his job.

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Engineering career advice: so you want to jump industries?

So perhaps you've stared at aircraft floor beams, or HVAC condensers, or oversized pipeline fittings for the last ten years. As you stare longingly into the window of the break room microwave, not noticing that your hot pocket is starting to suffer radiation burns, you realize that for whatever reason, you're in a rut. Maybe you're no longer growing in your position, or the company feels different, or maybe it's you that's different. What to do... So you want to jump industries, eh? Well there's no time like the present. Jump. Jump now. But please try to mind the bottomless pit below.

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No, you don’t want to be a welder: how manufacturing employment is changing

Forget college, be a welder and pull down the big bucks. It's a plausible fantasy perpetuated by cartoons, infographics, poorly researched articles, and even politicians unfairly pitting vocational training against the steadily rising cost of college degrees. After all, there's at least one young welder who manages serious money, $140K per year in fact. It's understandable to incorrectly assume that the future of manufacturing is all about the welding. Such a career strategy might work if you happen to entertain a Michael Bay outlook on life, where you expect to ride space shuttles for some space job flying through pew-pew explosions in exchange for bringing back 8-track tapes and refraining from paying income taxes ever again. The reality is that manufacturing employment is rapidly changing and technology is, as always, at the core of that transformation.

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Unsolicited advice for the new engineer: GD&T & design software

Learning GD&T is just as important as learning trigonometry.
After spending 20 years designing advanced hardware, I have some unsolicited advice for new engineers. Although you may be a most innovative thinker and may be able to create fantastic widgets, understanding how your part will be manufactured is just as important (perhaps moreso) than that new idea. Even if 2D drawings go away, you will still need to communicate key dimensions for inspection and allowable tolerances for manufacturing.

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Why co-ops are rocket fuel for your early engineering career

What if you had a dollar for every time someone grumbled about a young engineering grad creating impossible to manufacture designs due to lack of practical experience? And what if you also had a dollar for every engineering grad that wished their degree program gave them more job relevant skills and/or some viable experience? You'd probably have something like two times infinity dollars, and I'd be writing your biography for a perfectly reasonable six-figure retainer. If you're in engineering school now, there's no reason to wait for a miracle in education reform. Take matters into your own hands and be part of your school's cooperative education (co-op) engineering program.

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Want an entry-level engineering Job? Learn the right software

When I was 18 years old, I got my first job as an entry-level engineer. I started working for a point-of-purchase manufacturing company that specialized in sheet metal. While working there, I obtained a lot of valuable information about how sheet metal is manufactured, how to design around sheet metal, and how the point-of-purchase industry works. Additionally, the company funded much of my college education, as well as a respectable steady paycheck. I didn’t know a thing about injection molding, vacuum forming, cutting wood, or even sheet metal when I started at that job. I had no idea what an ERP system was, and I sure as hell didn’t know how powder coating worked. I was just some geeky kid who went to a vocational school to learn how to render a dragon and discovered my love for solid modeling and drafting in SolidWorks.

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