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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: StudentEngineer on October 24, 2016, 05:18:11 PM

Title: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 24, 2016, 05:18:11 PM
Hi Everyone!
I'll be graduating with a B.S. in mechanical engineering here in the next few years and would like to see what all you engineers here do for a living.  What are the pros/cons, things you would change, industries you think that will be highly in demand in the near future etc.  Also what sort of extracurriculars did you do? (clubs, internships etc).

I'm interested in the energy field.  Mostly anything dealing with the production,transportation, and consummation of energy and how to increase its efficiency.

Thanks!



Notable things from everyone:
* Networking: Use internships/ co-ops to establish contacts
* Experience is key, work on getting as many in depth internships/ co-ops as possible
       * Send out resume to many possible internships
       * Attend career fairs, use resumes tailored to specific companies
       * Contact career center / alumni
       * Work on interview/pitch skills with career services center
       * Taking a quarter or year off is not detrimental
* Be able to do common mechanical things ie tire rotations, oil changes, etc
* GPA is important for landing internships, stay above the cutoff levels.  After school, experience > GPA.
*Pass the FE exam
* Obtain as many relevant certifications as possible
* Plan out what you want from your career: engineer? management? certain localities?


Interested in:
*oil rig
*oil field (general engineering, reservoir engineering)
*mining
* utility companies (power creation, distribution)
*energy consulting


Note: I am very interested in working in more demanding jobs, ie oil field work camps, if there is high compensation.  I am very interested in building a nest egg as soon as I can out of university.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: kscubz on October 25, 2016, 01:31:48 AM
I'm a USCG licensed engineer on an oil tanker. I went to a maritime academy and graduated with both an engineering degree as well as my license. We move finished product from refineries to market.

I work six months out of the year and have the other six off. I make roughly 100k/year. .

Pros: 6 months vacation per year. My commute is a couple flights of stairs. Everything is provided while at work so expenses go way down. Food, transportation, entertainment costs, etc. are zero.

Cons: Away from home half the year Working conditions at times can be undesirable.

There is, and will continue to be strong demand for licensed marine engineers in the US shipping industry. It's an aging workforce with not enough young blood coming in to replace the old timers as they retire.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: ooeei on October 25, 2016, 06:56:26 AM
I'm a design engineer at an oil/gas service company.  I have a mechanical engineering degree.  I design downhole tools and parts of the completion string.  I'm about to hit 2 years in the industry, and worked in pharmaceutical manufacturing for 2 years before this. 

I really like that now I get to actually design things, put things together in the workshop/lab, and use things like physics and math.  In the pharmaceutical manufacturing job, it was all paperwork and red tape.  There are plenty of regulations around my particular department, but it's nothing like the other job.  I literally did maybe 1 hour of actual engineering during a good month there.  Here it's more like half of my time. 

A career in oil/gas is a bit risky, as it's a very boom or bust industry.  My company has laid off about 50% of its workforce since I started.  Luckily, the department I work in is still swamped with orders and we have stuff to do.  When I say luckily, I mean luckily.  I could've easily been in another department and gotten laid off.  I haven't gotten a raise since I started, and 401k matching has been gone for about 6 months.  I'm holding out until I have a bit more experience and then will likely have to go elsewhere unless things change quite a bit.  It'll be hard because I really like the job, and the people.

Tips for a college student: 

If you want more detail on the specifics of my actual job, send me a pm and I'll be glad to fill you in. 
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: MaxP0wer on October 25, 2016, 07:10:20 AM
I'm a licensed civil engineer (water resources/environmental) working as an environmetnal engineer for a utility company (power generation).  Environmental is a pretty solid field with the never ending slew of regulations put out by the EPA.  Half my job is field work/sampling/testing and the other half is reports/data sorting/regulation reading.  I have 10 years experience, work a standard 40 hours, and get paid a decent amount for what I do, about 75k.  Problem is it is quite boring most of the time, especially reading and interpreting regulation.  I would love to do more design work. 
I am surrounded by a lot of mechanical engineers who make more than I do and only work slightly more hours at times.  They are the majority here.       
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: SKL-HOU on October 25, 2016, 07:29:37 AM
I am a licensed mechanical engineer. The first 8 years of my career I worked for an residential HVAC equipment manufacturer. I didn't really like it. In the past 8 years I've been working in building engineering designing HVAC systems. I like this much better. In manufacturing, it seemed like there was never an end to the projects. Once one product was done, you still had to keep updating it, etc. With building engineering, you are done in a certain amount of time and you see the results of your work then move on to the next project. There is always an end in sight even if sometimes it doesn't seem like it. Considering majority of the work I do is for sports arenas, it is pretty cool.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: lthenderson on October 25, 2016, 07:48:31 AM
Retired from 25 years as a design engineer. Back when I started, engineering was the field to be in. It was one of the best paying and the career path always led through management. 20 years later it was only average pay and companies treated the engineering department as a disposable resource. In fact, that led to me getting out of engineering altogether. The first half of my career, I was employed with one employer and rose through the ranks until the tech bubble burst in the late 90's. From then on, it was moving from one company to the next as they consolidated, swapped, merged, laid off, outsourced or reorganized the engineering department.

Bottom line, Engineering isn't what it used to be though I'm sure there are still stable companies and areas out there. My advice is to really do your research about the company and the direction the industry as a whole is heading before signing up.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Slow&Steady on October 25, 2016, 07:57:56 AM
I'm a licensed civil engineer (water resources/environmental) working as an environmetnal engineer for a utility company (power generation).  Environmental is a pretty solid field with the never ending slew of regulations put out by the EPA.  Half my job is field work/sampling/testing and the other half is reports/data sorting/regulation reading.  I have 10 years experience, work a standard 40 hours, and get paid a decent amount for what I do, about 75k.  Problem is it is quite boring most of the time, especially reading and interpreting regulation.  I would love to do more design work. 
I am surrounded by a lot of mechanical engineers who make more than I do and only work slightly more hours at times.  They are the majority here.     

I am an environmental scientist (from an engr school) and was going to bring up the environmental side.  There are a lot of civil/mechanical/chemical engineers in the environmental world, especially if you are interested in air emissions.  I agree that it is not overly exciting but unless you get into emergency response (spills/releases) it is rarely over 40 hours a week.  I currently work in a manufacturing facility but I previously worked in consulting, consulting might pay slightly more.  Consulting was great when I was younger and willing to travel, now that I have a kid I just didn't want to do the travel anymore and wanted more consistent work. In the manufacturing facility it has been nice to be involved in day to day operations, the majority of my work as a consultant was "we have a problem, hurry and fix it, then go away until we need you again".  We have several mechanical engineers here too, they do everything thing from manage a project to install new equipment to just making sure everything stays running.  Our plant manager has a mechanical engineering degree.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: ooeei on October 25, 2016, 08:09:38 AM
Retired from 25 years as a design engineer. Back when I started, engineering was the field to be in. It was one of the best paying and the career path always led through management. 20 years later it was only average pay and companies treated the engineering department as a disposable resource. In fact, that led to me getting out of engineering altogether. The first half of my career, I was employed with one employer and rose through the ranks until the tech bubble burst in the late 90's. From then on, it was moving from one company to the next as they consolidated, swapped, merged, laid off, outsourced or reorganized the engineering department.

Bottom line, Engineering isn't what it used to be though I'm sure there are still stable companies and areas out there. My advice is to really do your research about the company and the direction the industry as a whole is heading before signing up.

As far as I can tell, most engineers still make quite a bit above "average" pay.  Average household income in the United States is $51,000, every (relatively young) engineer I know makes more than that by themselves.

Companies merging and needing to move around to get raises seems to be a given for just about any job, I'm not sure that's isolated to engineering.  Do you have an alternate career recommendation that isn't affected by that?  I suppose government work might count.

I'm "entry level" and work 40-45 hours per week (maybe 50 2-3x a year), and make $74k with pretty good benefits.  Straight out of school 4 years ago I was making $60k with benefits.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Jack on October 25, 2016, 08:38:13 AM
I have degrees in civil engineering (with electives divided between structural and transportation) and computer science.

I started out looking specifically for PE-track engineering jobs. Eventually (I graduated into the recession, so it took a while), I found a job working in traffic operations: managing incidents and controlling the changeable message signs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changeable-message_sign) on the freeways. It was easy (too easy) and I was severely underpaid. Then I worked for a while as a traffic design engineer, which was better, but I was still underpaid and I was dissatisfied that my work -- road capacity projects in the suburbs and exurbs -- would make sprawl and traffic worse in the long run rather than better.

So then I gave up on the whole "getting licensed" thing and went to software. Software pays much better and is more intellectually challenging and fun, but it is also often not real engineering (in terms of process and rigorous standards) despite the idiotic "software engineer" job title companies insist on using. I spent around two years writing generic line-of-business web-app software in .NET, then leveraged that experience to get the job I really wanted.

Now I (finally!) use both my degrees writing architectural CAD/BIM software in C++, and am no longer underpaid to boot! This job even came with a supervisor with a PE, so I've possibly been accruing experience towards a license again, which is nice.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: sunnsurf on October 25, 2016, 09:56:55 AM
Electrical engineer here. I went straight into technical sales after I graduated. I'm in my 16th year now and getting ready to FIRE.  I'm just north of 200K per year. Made 6 figures within 4 years of graduating. There's a real demand for engineers that can work and communicate easily with people, hence the sales engineering field was born. Don't be mistaken as it's not like selling vacuum cleaners where you likely have to sell the customer on your product. If somebody is talking to me about a semiconductor it's because they already need one. I'm glad I took a chance 16 years ago.

Sorry for any typos. I'm typing from my phone.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: mm1970 on October 25, 2016, 10:00:01 AM
My degree is in Chemical engineering but I work in semi-conductors (electrical/ chemical).

My preferred job was when we actually had a fab area, and I was running wafers, running process experiments, creating new processes, qualifying new equipment, testing new devices.  A mix of hands-on and management and projects.

Now I just schedule things.  And analyze data.  The data analysis is pretty cool.  Scheduling, not so much.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on October 25, 2016, 10:05:47 AM
Like Jack, I graduated intending to get my PE (my degree is environmental engineering) but I find myself moving towards a developer role building extensions to third-party environmental management systems. The pay is better and I enjoy the work. I've made barely any progress towards my PE since passing my FE, but I have no problem with that.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Saskatchewstachian on October 25, 2016, 10:40:02 AM
Hi Everyone!
I'll be graduating with a B.S. in mechanical engineering here in the next few years and would like to see what all you engineers here do for a living.  What are the pros/cons, things you would change, industries you think that will be highly in demand in the near future etc.

Fellow mechanical here! I work as a "Project Engineer" (the most generic title in the world) on a mine site. I work on installing, updating, or replacing machines in an underground mine. The upside is that I get to do a fair bit of actual engineering i.e. bending stress or torsion calcs to ensure something won't break while removing it. But  the main portion of my job is just project management and making sure everything goes smoothly.

I work primarily on mechanical equipment but get good exposure to all other disciplines as well. I.e. when installing equipment I need to make sure the concrete slab is sufficient to anchor and make sure we have the proper power supply running to it.

I am two years out of school and working on the mine site make about 140k/yr but have the perk of a very large company working on a very large project.

The pros would definitely be the diversity of the work I get to see, the specialized nature and the problem solving on the job. The con's would be living in a work camp 4-5 nights a week.

One other note, I did a 16 month internship between my 3rd and 4th years of engineering and that was a massive boost to my resume while applying for jobs out of school.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Roboturner on October 25, 2016, 10:42:41 AM
I'm a reservoir engineer for an O&G corp

Pros: -High pay
Cons: -Not really an engineer, more of a glorified accountant, I only do science about 10% of the time - my buddies are what I call "real" engineers - they do interesting stuff and have loads of patents but make about half what i do
-95% of available employment are in places like TX or OK

So the question is, would you rather sell your interest in your job for extra dough to FIRE?, or be content feeling 'fulfilled' to a degree - with a longer working life?
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Cromacster on October 25, 2016, 10:55:53 AM
I am a mechanical engineer and I am currently working as Project Engineer soon to be transitioning to an Application Engineering position.  The difference between the titles?  I have yet to figure out.

I work in a manufacturing company that mostly supplies stuff to automotive applications along with some other markets (semi trucks, mining, gas turbines).

Out of school I started my career in a contract position for a major airline as an Engineer making $35/hr with shitty health coverage, no vacation, and a no match 401k.  My second position I took a pay cut, but got much better benefits and paid vacation.  In the end the lower pay actually earned me more money due to the benefits.

My biggest advice as stated above, Internships and Coops.  Find companies near your school to work at while you are in school.  I would also consider moving around the country for a summer internship/coop or even taking time off of school for one.  I "took off" my second semester of sophomore year for a coop.  It's a good way to make money and get valuable experience.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: lthenderson on October 25, 2016, 11:04:53 AM
Retired from 25 years as a design engineer. Back when I started, engineering was the field to be in. It was one of the best paying and the career path always led through management. 20 years later it was only average pay and companies treated the engineering department as a disposable resource. In fact, that led to me getting out of engineering altogether. The first half of my career, I was employed with one employer and rose through the ranks until the tech bubble burst in the late 90's. From then on, it was moving from one company to the next as they consolidated, swapped, merged, laid off, outsourced or reorganized the engineering department.

Bottom line, Engineering isn't what it used to be though I'm sure there are still stable companies and areas out there. My advice is to really do your research about the company and the direction the industry as a whole is heading before signing up.

As far as I can tell, most engineers still make quite a bit above "average" pay.  Average household income in the United States is $51,000, every (relatively young) engineer I know makes more than that by themselves.

Companies merging and needing to move around to get raises seems to be a given for just about any job, I'm not sure that's isolated to engineering.  Do you have an alternate career recommendation that isn't affected by that?  I suppose government work might count.

I'm "entry level" and work 40-45 hours per week (maybe 50 2-3x a year), and make $74k with pretty good benefits.  Straight out of school 4 years ago I was making $60k with benefits.

I guess I was referring to average pay among professional jobs and not nationwide averages. When I started, engineering was definitely one of the highest professionally paid jobs. It most certainly isn't anymore.

There are still great jobs in engineering. If I were in the market for a job, I would search small companies and not big ones where you are just a resource to be managed. With small companies, there is still an element of family and stability. They get bought out and can go under, just like bigger companies but at least you miss out on all the reorganization, shifting, phasing out, contracting out dynamics that you get with being a larger entity. Also with smaller companies, I still find many engineers in upper management that you don't get with larger organizations that where marketing and accounting seems to be the in roads to upper management.

Benefits are another issue. When I started in engineering, we had pensions, completely free health and eye care along with many others that have gone by the wayside. I'm sure however that hasn't been just an engineering issue and is across the board.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: caseyzee on October 25, 2016, 12:42:30 PM
I have a BME and an MSME.  I'm the maintenance and reliability manager at a manufacturing plant.  There are so many different things that can be done as an ME that you have to find what makes you tick.  I'm old, so it was years ago, but straight out of school I did design engineering.  Hated it.  Really, really found it so boring.  Once I discovered manufacturing, I was sold.  Even within a broad field such as "Energy", I would guess that there is a lot of variety in terms of what you can do.  So find your passion and pursue it.

For me, as I get older, and particularly with manufacturing, it can feel like too much.  The middle of the night phone call, the Oh, crap the power is out calls.  They get old.  But its all still exciting to me.  Sometimes I think we've got things so fined tuned we're going to run out of shit to work on.  But then something spectacular happens and it's a whirlwind and it's cool.

Enjoy the ride.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 27, 2016, 10:48:38 AM
Thank you everyone for the responses!  Its always great to get an idea of opportunities out there.  I've sent a few of you pms with some more in depth questions

Any more specific recommendations for internships with respect to oil/energy/environmental engineering?  What about some companies that are looking for new graduates?


Anyone else please feel free to chime in.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: WranglerBowman on October 27, 2016, 11:36:49 AM
I have an M.S. in Environmental Engineering, focus on water resources, and most of my friends from college were all engineering/physics (Graduated 2007, followed by tough economic years).  Internships and having real experience prior to graduating will generally put you ahead of the crowd, always think about staying ahead of the crowd and building a strong resume because you are more marketable (to survive the storms) and able to land the better jobs that come along, which also generally pay more with better benefits.  I work at a fortune 100 energy firm and the main reason I got my position is M.S. from a good school, loads of experience from many years of interning, as well as working at small firms where I was an integral part of projects doing a lot of different things.  Also got as many licenses and qualifications as I could.  Get involved in as much as you can more as a lifestyle than as a job.  In my opinion most engineers don't make enough and about half the engineers, my age, have moved away from engineering to other jobs due to better pay and less stress.  If I were fresh out of school again I would probably find a high paying job that requires you to live on site, e.g. oil rig, or something like that so you can bank as much money as possible as early as possible, then settle down from there.  The large municipalities and federal government positions are pretty solid jobs for a careers.  I think the hot fields over the next couple decades will be sustainability, energy, robotics/programming, and infrastructure rehab.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: GuitarStv on October 27, 2016, 12:03:17 PM
Software engineer - I've worked on military projects developing full cockpit flight simulators, and worked in the rail signalling industry developing train control systems.

For me personally, the single most important thing to developing your career is networking.  There are an astounding number of jobs out there that never get posted on the job ad websites . . . you have to find out about them by word of mouth, or to be recommended by someone.  Get to know people, get known for doing a good job, and then use these contacts to get better work.  Internships can be a great way to start doing this.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: SnackDog on October 27, 2016, 12:18:56 PM
I'm not an engineer but I manage a small herd of them.  They are well paid (up to $450K/yr) and presumably get great satisfaction out of solving the many problems we face on an ongoing basis.

You should consider several major areas for engineering employment -
1) government.  This can be stable work in some good domestic locations with great benefits and retirement, but is government work.  Lower pay, waste, red tape, unmotivated cow-workers.
2) commodities.  This includes energy and mining.  High salaries but less job security due to roller coaster prices.  A wide range of international locations including some rather harsh field locations.
3) new economy.  Good salaries, lots of competition, pressure, longer work hours, hip work environment, coolness factor, HCOL locations typically.
4) old economy.  This includes manufacturing and infrastructure.  Average salary, lowish job security (esp. for dying industries), and some ugly locations.  Very low coolness factor.

Get after it!
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 27, 2016, 12:21:59 PM
Software engineer - I've worked on military projects developing full cockpit flight simulators, and worked in the rail signalling industry developing train control systems.

For me personally, the single most important thing to developing your career is networking.  There are an astounding number of jobs out there that never get posted on the job ad websites . . . you have to find out about them by word of mouth, or to be recommended by someone.  Get to know people, get known for doing a good job, and then use these contacts to get better work.  Internships can be a great way to start doing this.

Thats a great point.  Internships open the door to establishing contacts which can open many more doors down the road.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 27, 2016, 12:26:42 PM
I'm not an engineer but I manage a small herd of them.  They are well paid (up to $450K/yr) and presumably get great satisfaction out of solving the many problems we face on an ongoing basis.

You should consider several major areas for engineering employment -
1) government.  This can be stable work in some good domestic locations with great benefits and retirement, but is government work.  Lower pay, waste, red tape, unmotivated cow-workers.
2) commodities.  This includes energy and mining.  High salaries but less job security due to roller coaster prices.  A wide range of international locations including some rather harsh field locations.
3) new economy.  Good salaries, lots of competition, pressure, longer work hours, hip work environment, coolness factor, HCOL locations typically.
4) old economy.  This includes manufacturing and infrastructure.  Average salary, lowish job security (esp. for dying industries), and some ugly locations.  Very low coolness factor.

Get after it!

What sort of work do your engineers do?  Based on your description I'm leaning towards commodities with the new economy coming in second.  I'm presuming by new economy you mean newer technology? Such as Tesla or SpaceX or newer startups?
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Miss Tash on October 27, 2016, 02:01:24 PM
I have a BSME and am nearing the end of my career.  I've worked for a couple large firms and for the last 20 years for a small R&D company.  I love my job but it took a while to find the right fit.  Don't worry if you bump around a couple different companies and even industries to find that fit.  Mechanical engineering is so broad that it is difficult to know what you want, especially right out of school. 
When I hire interns, which I do almost every summer, I look for potential and personality.  If you have some basic skills, are willing to try anything and refuse to give up when tasked (even with the impossible!) then you're the guy I'm looking for.  When we hire full-time engineers it is less about potential and more about proven skills in specific areas.  So, go get those skills in your first 1-5 years, find out what you love, and try to find it in a stable industry like defense, government, energy or healthcare.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: katstache92 on October 27, 2016, 02:13:34 PM
I'm an Industrial Engineer and have hired IEs for internship, co-op, and full time positions.  For those just out of school we look for internship/co-op experience and a GPA above a non-published cut off.  Personally, I had 4 professional internships in 4 different areas because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do.  I've now had 2 different jobs in 2 different areas since graduating and I'm still trying to figure it out, maybe I never will, but that's okay, I'm still learning.  Maybe you'll find your niche right away, don't be scared if you don't, at least you're still learning.

As far as extracurriculars, I would recommend doing some engineering things and some non-engineering things to show you are well rounded.  It's really about enjoying yourself, at least a little, while you're in college.  Like the outdoors?  Join the outdoors club.  Like something else, I bet your college has a club for that.  If they don't, presto there's your opportunity to start one.  Instant leadership experience.  Don't just put things on your resume so they are there, get involved, work your way up to the leadership positions.  If I see a resume with 7 different clubs on there and no leadership in any of them, I know the candidate is just trying to fill up space and likely hasn't really committed or spent time with any specific club (assuming they are an upperclassmen.)  Get involved.  Keep notes on what you do.  Update your resume after each semester and keep a copy of the old one - it's nice to look back and see your progress over the years.

I got all of my internships by going to career fairs.  Plan ahead, get a list of the companies that will be there, pick the companies you want to visit, research the companies and know what they do.  One of my pet peeves at a career fair is a student who comes up and says, "so what does your company do."  Ugh.  Be prepared.  I always printed out a custom resume with the name of the company in my objective statement, if the recruiter noticed, it was a bonus and helped the recruiter remember me.  Go to every recruiting event on campus that is available to you (career fairs, networking events, a few information sessions.)  Have career services review your resume, do mock interviews, even if you aren't looking for a job your freshman year, go to the career fair.  Work out your elevator speech.

Wow, that's a lot.  Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to pm me.

ETA: Sorry a lot of that is off-topic and not really what you asked about, I guess I got on a roll.  I do data reporting and analysis.  I love being an engineer and having so many job options and opportunities.  I wish I would have planned my career out a little more than I have done until this point.  I started out in college as an ME and switched to IE when I realized I wanted to work with people and I thought IE would give me more of a chance to do that than ME.  In my current job I'm sitting behind a computer for 80% of my day... but not all IE jobs are like that.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Emg03063 on October 27, 2016, 06:27:52 PM
ME by background here, process engineer by title.  I've spent my civilian career (after a 4 yr stint as an Army engineer officer) in manufacturing, helping to make everything from folding cartons to telecom lasers, and optical fiber to beer glasses.  Basically what I do is help improve productivity and yield in manufacturing processes.  The work has generally been interesting to me.  I use a lot of metrology & GD&T in my current role.  Definitely learn whatever you can from a practical perspective, intern and coop wherever possible.  Also, you may want to consider the environment and the impact your chosen industry will have on it before deciding to go into nonrenewable energy.  It's not going away anytime soon, but if you're anything like me values wise, you'll sleep a lot better at night designing or installing windmills.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: scapee on October 27, 2016, 11:50:14 PM
I'm a civil engineer and over 15 years have worked in a three different areas, and so far haven't found one I like. So I won't go into job details. Hence, I very much look forward to FI so I can just go work anywhere my whim takes me and not be a slave to the unfulfilling career path the pursuit of money has led me on.

That said, I would highly recommend spending your younger, less constrained years, travelling for work in/on remote sites trading your 'social life' for money. Save your ass off in your 20's, learn a lot, and after a couple years of bankrolling re-evaluate your life. Maybe you carry on status quo, maybe you refocus. Don't like it? Maybe do it to FI? That might take 10 years and its up to you to make that call. That's pretty much where I am now. FI and ready for a new job/career. IMO it was well worthwhile. I have no regrets, I made the best decision I could at the time knowing what I knew..

It's true that you should follow your passion, but, I believe that it won't hurt your 'passion' to sell yourself for a couple years to stage yourself in a position of financial strength for the rest of your life. From a position of financial strength you will have the mobility/flexibility to seize opportunities you're more passionate about when they pop up.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: PaulMaxime on October 28, 2016, 12:37:23 AM
Lots of interesting stuff here.

For me I'm a Computer Engineer who spend 20 years working for the US Intelligence community starting out with Internet when it was getting going (in the mid 1980's) and then moved on to large scale distributed computing and finally in to security testing (among other things) before being recruited by Google in 2007.

Spent 8 years at Google - first doing production engineering (someone has to keep all those machines running 24/7), then working with an acquisition helping them port their systems over to internal infrastructure. Then I moved to Google books and worked on the iOS version of Google Play Book reader for a couple years before I joined an internal startup called Niantic labs.

Just last year we spun off from Google and now I'm the lead iOS developer on Pokemon GO. Quite a journey over a 31 year career.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: syednaeemul on October 28, 2016, 08:24:26 AM
Graduated with an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree, did zero telecoms papers, and 1st graduate job was a grad program for a global telco. Within a year I moved to a big IT Consulting company, and now I do project management / PMO work for tech and non-tech projects.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: ooeei on October 28, 2016, 08:29:17 AM
Lots of interesting stuff here.

For me I'm a Computer Engineer who spend 20 years working for the US Intelligence community starting out with Internet when it was getting going (in the mid 1980's) and then moved on to large scale distributed computing and finally in to security testing (among other things) before being recruited by Google in 2007.

Spent 8 years at Google - first doing production engineering (someone has to keep all those machines running 24/7), then working with an acquisition helping them port their systems over to internal infrastructure. Then I moved to Google books and worked on the iOS version of Google Play Book reader for a couple years before I joined an internal startup called Niantic labs.

Just last year we spun off from Google and now I'm the lead iOS developer on Pokemon GO. Quite a journey over a 31 year career.

What's your policy on giving forum members perfect stat Dragonites?
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: mbl on October 28, 2016, 08:42:56 AM
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Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 28, 2016, 11:44:20 AM
I have an M.S. in Environmental Engineering, focus on water resources, and most of my friends from college were all engineering/physics (Graduated 2007, followed by tough economic years).  Internships and having real experience prior to graduating will generally put you ahead of the crowd, always think about staying ahead of the crowd and building a strong resume because you are more marketable (to survive the storms) and able to land the better jobs that come along, which also generally pay more with better benefits.  I work at a fortune 100 energy firm and the main reason I got my position is M.S. from a good school, loads of experience from many years of interning, as well as working at small firms where I was an integral part of projects doing a lot of different things.  Also got as many licenses and qualifications as I could.  Get involved in as much as you can more as a lifestyle than as a job.  In my opinion most engineers don't make enough and about half the engineers, my age, have moved away from engineering to other jobs due to better pay and less stress.  If I were fresh out of school again I would probably find a high paying job that requires you to live on site, e.g. oil rig, or something like that so you can bank as much money as possible as early as possible, then settle down from there.  The large municipalities and federal government positions are pretty solid jobs for a careers.  I think the hot fields over the next couple decades will be sustainability, energy, robotics/programming, and infrastructure rehab.

What sort of internships and licenses/certifications did you get? What would you recommend for water, air or general energy?
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 28, 2016, 11:58:47 AM

I got all of my internships by going to career fairs.  Plan ahead, get a list of the companies that will be there, pick the companies you want to visit, research the companies and know what they do.  One of my pet peeves at a career fair is a student who comes up and says, "so what does your company do."  Ugh.  Be prepared.  I always printed out a custom resume with the name of the company in my objective statement, if the recruiter noticed, it was a bonus and helped the recruiter remember me.  Go to every recruiting event on campus that is available to you (career fairs, networking events, a few information sessions.)  Have career services review your resume, do mock interviews, even if you aren't looking for a job your freshman year, go to the career fair.  Work out your elevator speech.

Wow, that's a lot.  Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to pm me.

ETA: Sorry a lot of that is off-topic and not really what you asked about, I guess I got on a roll.  I do data reporting and analysis.  I love being an engineer and having so many job options and opportunities.  I wish I would have planned my career out a little more than I have done until this point.  I started out in college as an ME and switched to IE when I realized I wanted to work with people and I thought IE would give me more of a chance to do that than ME.  In my current job I'm sitting behind a computer for 80% of my day... but not all IE jobs are like that.

I appreciate the in depth comment!  It's all very useful information :) .  I will take you up on the advice for spending a lot more time at career/networking events and working on my resume/interview skills.  How would you have planned your career differently? By trying to intern in as many varied fields as possible?
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 28, 2016, 12:05:43 PM
I'm a civil engineer and over 15 years have worked in a three different areas, and so far haven't found one I like. So I won't go into job details. Hence, I very much look forward to FI so I can just go work anywhere my whim takes me and not be a slave to the unfulfilling career path the pursuit of money has led me on.

That said, I would highly recommend spending your younger, less constrained years, travelling for work in/on remote sites trading your 'social life' for money. Save your ass off in your 20's, learn a lot, and after a couple years of bankrolling re-evaluate your life. Maybe you carry on status quo, maybe you refocus. Don't like it? Maybe do it to FI? That might take 10 years and its up to you to make that call. That's pretty much where I am now. FI and ready for a new job/career. IMO it was well worthwhile. I have no regrets, I made the best decision I could at the time knowing what I knew..

It's true that you should follow your passion, but, I believe that it won't hurt your 'passion' to sell yourself for a couple years to stage yourself in a position of financial strength for the rest of your life. From a position of financial strength you will have the mobility/flexibility to seize opportunities you're more passionate about when they pop up.

The trend that is speaking to me throughout these posts is that your 20's are the perfect time to work those more remote jobs and save as much as possible.  At this point this is my plan, hence why I'd love to get into some of the mining, O/G work and save a bunch.  Then I could reevaluate and choose a different route if it was more appealing.

What were the reasons you didn't enjoy your 3 previous areas of work?


Lots of interesting stuff here.

For me I'm a Computer Engineer who spend 20 years working for the US Intelligence community starting out with Internet when it was getting going (in the mid 1980's) and then moved on to large scale distributed computing and finally in to security testing (among other things) before being recruited by Google in 2007.

Spent 8 years at Google - first doing production engineering (someone has to keep all those machines running 24/7), then working with an acquisition helping them port their systems over to internal infrastructure. Then I moved to Google books and worked on the iOS version of Google Play Book reader for a couple years before I joined an internal startup called Niantic labs.

Just last year we spun off from Google and now I'm the lead iOS developer on Pokemon GO. Quite a journey over a 31 year career.


Quite the career you've had! One of the reasons why I am liking engineering more and more, the varied opportunities that pop up!  Thanks for your comment.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: MasterStache on October 28, 2016, 12:15:42 PM
Electrical Engineer, aka Controls Engineer, aka Project Engineer here. First 4 years spent developing and programming machines for Proctor and Gamble tissue/towel division. Got tired of travel and being underpaid so moved on. Last 5+ years I've been designing and programming packaging machines. Everything from Keurig Coffee to Quaker Oats. Our company has been in business for over 100+ years. Used to be a highly sought after job with a long waiting list, excellent pay, excellent benefits etc. Now it's your typical corporate cubicle job. Pay is ok, benefits are decent. I absolutely cannot stand it. I'm not meant to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours/day.

Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on October 28, 2016, 12:53:19 PM
Electrical Engineer, aka Controls Engineer, aka Project Engineer here. First 4 years spent developing and programming machines for Proctor and Gamble tissue/towel division. Got tired of travel and being underpaid so moved on. Last 5+ years I've been designing and programming packaging machines. Everything from Keurig Coffee to Quaker Oats. Our company has been in business for over 100+ years. Used to be a highly sought after job with a long waiting list, excellent pay, excellent benefits etc. Now it's your typical corporate cubicle job. Pay is ok, benefits are decent. I absolutely cannot stand it. I'm not meant to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours/day.

Sort of a jack of all (engineering) trades huh?  Are you planning on searching for different work?  Do you find that most 'design' type jobs are cubicle bound?

Thanks for your response!
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Roboturner on October 28, 2016, 01:55:49 PM
I'm not meant to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours/day.

That is why we're all here [MMM] isn't it? :P
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: v8rx7guy on October 28, 2016, 02:18:13 PM
I am a BSME, also just got my P.E. this spring (never use it, but nice to have).  I am a mechanical designer, so I work in 3D CAD most of the day with some trips and R&D shop work sprinkled in.  Lower wages than people would expect for an engineer, but I love my job and that's worth a lot to me.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: rhadams1988 on October 28, 2016, 05:11:21 PM
I graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree but never used it for mechanical engineering. I got a job at a big corporation working oncorporate sustainability and have since transitioned to being an analytics manager. It turns out that being able to problem solve like an engineer makes you super valuable in corporate America.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: mm1970 on October 29, 2016, 10:09:44 AM
Electrical Engineer, aka Controls Engineer, aka Project Engineer here. First 4 years spent developing and programming machines for Proctor and Gamble tissue/towel division. Got tired of travel and being underpaid so moved on. Last 5+ years I've been designing and programming packaging machines. Everything from Keurig Coffee to Quaker Oats. Our company has been in business for over 100+ years. Used to be a highly sought after job with a long waiting list, excellent pay, excellent benefits etc. Now it's your typical corporate cubicle job. Pay is ok, benefits are decent. I absolutely cannot stand it. I'm not meant to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours/day.
Yes. I have to tell you that I miss being in the fab.  Badly
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: umm...Megs on October 29, 2016, 02:05:54 PM
Finally a post where I have something to contribute :)

I'm an engineer that works for one of the major O&G companies--I primarily work on surface infrastructure. (though in terms of schooling I'm a ChemE, not ME)

Anyway--some things to think about

Most of the majors only hire fresh out of school if you've had an internship with the company before. This has pretty much become the rule at my company since the drop in oil prices. (But for the last 2 years we've hired exactly 0 engineering interns)

In terms of what my company looks for (and most other majors, by way of the grapevine) is 20% general competence and 80% personality/would I like working with this person.

Is O&G right for you? Depends. Do you like country living, living abroad, or Houston, TX? Those will be your primary options, though there are limited opportunities in some other metro areas. Also to echo what another poster has said--it's pretty easy, boring work--I worked in another industry pre-boom and it was much more fulfilling in terms of having interesting problems to solve. Also: nearly everyone goes into this industry for the money. The geos are the only people in it for the love of it--and that can be a little frustrating at times if you try to be passionate about what you do.

The pay is somewhat unbelievable--with 2 years experience in an unrelated field I started at ~$110k--but cyclical nature of the industry all but guarantees that you will be on the chopping block at some point when layoffs roll around. I've seen some kicka** employees get laid off simply because their boss retired and the new guy had favorites. Eh.

But I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that after 5-10 years in the industry and some frugal living, you can definitely be FI (or nearly there) especially if you work in "hardship" areas where you get a pay multiplier...
 
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: markbike528CBX on October 29, 2016, 03:08:31 PM
Learn how to change the oil in your car.  ..... All things you should know how to do (even if you don't do them, look them up on youtube and learn it well enough to pretend). 
While I'm not sure I'd put the oil change on the actual resume, you should have some idea how to do it.

I once talked to an engineering student about motorcycles and the student did not know what a camshaft was.
Don't think/hope the student lasted long as a future engineer.

My title is Field Service Engineer (I'm really a chemist), and I need to be able to follow flows and logic of a pipe and instrumentation diagram (P+ID), and implement it in the field.

Our shop is small enough that I have to be aware of many different job functions, I don't have to be an expert.
Electrical:  when turning on a Variable Speed Drive for a pump causes radiation monitoring devices to go haywire (unrealistically high)
Health Physics:  understanding what radiation reading is unrealistic, and when to leave the area immediately.
Mechanical: why some pumps don't work when you've put gas in the suction, and some chug along OK.
Chemical (engineering): An action in a beaker in the lab is boring, at 10 to 100x scale, it can get exciting.
I also need to direct people to use the "star" pattern when tightening flange gaskets and know that there needs to be a gasket between the flanges in the first place.
Financial: Asking for a day of critical path time during a outage at a nuclear power plant equals asking for $1,000,000 USD.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: MasterStache on October 31, 2016, 09:29:38 AM
Electrical Engineer, aka Controls Engineer, aka Project Engineer here. First 4 years spent developing and programming machines for Proctor and Gamble tissue/towel division. Got tired of travel and being underpaid so moved on. Last 5+ years I've been designing and programming packaging machines. Everything from Keurig Coffee to Quaker Oats. Our company has been in business for over 100+ years. Used to be a highly sought after job with a long waiting list, excellent pay, excellent benefits etc. Now it's your typical corporate cubicle job. Pay is ok, benefits are decent. I absolutely cannot stand it. I'm not meant to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours/day.

Sort of a jack of all (engineering) trades huh?  Are you planning on searching for different work?  Do you find that most 'design' type jobs are cubicle bound?

Thanks for your response!

Well it's all directly related in my job. I've been programming PLCs since I graduated. So I am more of a Controls Engineer. But I still do the design, the parts list, the CAD drawings and even the HMI design/programming. So I have numerous job titles.

I think any job like mine is mostly cubicle bound, with exception of those with high amounts of travel, like my last job. I hated it at first, but being mostly cubicle bound for the last 5 years has me somewhat missing travelling. I wouldn't do it again having two kids heavily involved in social events/sports and a wife who works full time as well.

Cubicle life is the main reason for wanting to FIRE so badly. Some folks, I guess, enjoy this. Most days I walk into work and just look around and think to myself "What the hell am I doing wasting away in here!"

To be honest if I had to do it all over again I wouldn't be an engineer. My passions lie elsewhere.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Schaefer Light on October 31, 2016, 11:01:21 AM
I graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree but never used it for mechanical engineering. I got a job at a big corporation working oncorporate sustainability and have since transitioned to being an analytics manager. It turns out that being able to problem solve like an engineer makes you super valuable in corporate America.
What does an analytics manager do?
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: SKL-HOU on October 31, 2016, 11:29:34 AM

To be honest if I had to do it all over again I wouldn't be an engineer. My passions lie elsewhere.

Same here!
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: adwasy on October 31, 2016, 11:30:19 AM
I'm a mechanical engineer (e.i.t) about a year and a half out of school. I work in O&G as a contractor who consults for small ownership groups, and more so lately, receivership's.

You've had a ton of good replies here. I'll add what I can. I've only worked for small companies in my (short) career. I think I might explode if I had to be forced into a large company (large being anywhere with an HR department or somewhere that might force me to dress a certain way). I do a bit of everything because we are such a small outfit. It has given me a ton of amazing experience in all aspects of oil and gas. Just in the last two weeks I've worked on a drilling floor, written a completion program, analyzed logs, and troubleshot an important gas well on plunger lift etc etc etc.

Best choice I made to influence my career was to volunteer as Mechanical Engineering Club President in my last year of University. It was easily 40+ hours a week of volunteering but it shaped the way I think and act in the workplace more so than anything I did in my schooling. I didn't do it for the resume boost**** but it was ultimately what got me my current position.

****If you do something like this for the purpose of looking good on a resume you will be miserable.

Good luck OP.
 
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Schaefer Light on October 31, 2016, 11:53:53 AM
To be honest if I had to do it all over again I wouldn't be an engineer. My passions lie elsewhere.
When you think about it, it's a wonder that anyone winds up in a job they're passionate about.  Kids are making decisions at 18 years old (in the form of their college major) that will have a major influence on the type of job they're able to get.  How many people really know what they want to do at that age?  Even if you thought you knew, you might turn out to be wrong.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: katstache92 on October 31, 2016, 12:08:29 PM
I appreciate the in depth comment!  It's all very useful information :) .  I will take you up on the advice for spending a lot more time at career/networking events and working on my resume/interview skills.  How would you have planned your career differently? By trying to intern in as many varied fields as possible?

I had internships in as many different areas as I could manage and that included adding a year to my college time so I could take two semesters off for internships.  As far as career planning goes, I was super driven in college to get internships so I could get a good full time job after I graduated.  I did that and I'm just now realizing I didn't necessarily have a plan past that point.

So I've started asking myself questions like:
Do I want to be an executive someday?  Not really.
Do I want to be at the VP/director level? No.
Do I want to be a manager? Maybe??
Do I want to remain an engineer?  Maybe??

I should have been asking these questions long before now and it would have helped me shape the early years of my career in a way more aligned with my long term goals.  So I guess my advice would be to at least consider what your long term goals might be and if they change over time, that's fine, but at least you have a goal and something you're working towards.  On the other hand, I know some engineers who become engineers and that's it, they are happy or at least content to remain there until they retire.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: ooeei on October 31, 2016, 12:13:19 PM
Learn how to change the oil in your car.  ..... All things you should know how to do (even if you don't do them, look them up on youtube and learn it well enough to pretend). 
While I'm not sure I'd put the oil change on the actual resume, you should have some idea how to do it.

I once talked to an engineering student about motorcycles and the student did not know what a camshaft was.
Don't think/hope the student lasted long as a future engineer.

My title is Field Service Engineer (I'm really a chemist), and I need to be able to follow flows and logic of a pipe and instrumentation diagram (P+ID), and implement it in the field.

Our shop is small enough that I have to be aware of many different job functions, I don't have to be an expert.
Electrical:  when turning on a Variable Speed Drive for a pump causes radiation monitoring devices to go haywire (unrealistically high)
Health Physics:  understanding what radiation reading is unrealistic, and when to leave the area immediately.
Mechanical: why some pumps don't work when you've put gas in the suction, and some chug along OK.
Chemical (engineering): An action in a beaker in the lab is boring, at 10 to 100x scale, it can get exciting.
I also need to direct people to use the "star" pattern when tightening flange gaskets and know that there needs to be a gasket between the flanges in the first place.
Financial: Asking for a day of critical path time during a outage at a nuclear power plant equals asking for $1,000,000 USD.

I wouldn't put oil change on a resume either, but under "other interests" or "hobbies" or whatever I'd put "working on my car" as a listing. 
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: boarder42 on October 31, 2016, 12:14:24 PM
I'm a EE i started out as a Controls Programmer for a large consulting firm.  Did Electrical and controls design for the first 4-6 years for oil/gas/food/chemical - mostly process control based.  This was awesome i traveled everywhere - then became not awesome b/c i traveled everywhere.

Now i work as a Communications engineer for the same firm on the power grid side.  This industry is awesome and moving fast.  lots of new communications needs on the utility side as well as a very interesting future for power generation and delivery in general.  but at the end of the day all these require devices to communicate with central control centers to determine where to send power and how much to produce or store.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: SKL-HOU on October 31, 2016, 06:45:08 PM
I'm a mechanical engineer (e.i.t) about a year and a half out of school. I work in O&G as a contractor who consults for small ownership groups, and more so lately, receivership's.

You've had a ton of good replies here. I'll add what I can. I've only worked for small companies in my (short) career. I think I might explode if I had to be forced into a large company (large being anywhere with an HR department or somewhere that might force me to dress a certain way). I do a bit of everything because we are such a small outfit. It has given me a ton of amazing experience in all aspects of oil and gas. Just in the last two weeks I've worked on a drilling floor, written a completion program, analyzed logs, and troubleshot an important gas well on plunger lift etc etc etc.

Best choice I made to influence my career was to volunteer as Mechanical Engineering Club President in my last year of University. It was easily 40+ hours a week of volunteering but it shaped the way I think and act in the workplace more so than anything I did in my schooling. I didn't do it for the resume boost**** but it was ultimately what got me my current position.

****If you do something like this for the purpose of looking good on a resume you will be miserable.

Good luck OP.

I work for a company that has offices all over the world with 90k employees. The department i am in in the location we are at is not at all what you described. I wouldn't be so closed minded if i were you. It really depends on the company/office/location. We don't have to dress a certain way. Small companies can have all kinds of rules too.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: rawr237 on November 01, 2016, 07:19:07 AM
I have a B.S. in ME, 5 years out of school now. In school I was active in a Christian fellowship and the taekwondo team -- semi-leadership positions in both, and they were both on my resume. I pulled a lot of interview question responses from my experience with taekwondo.
I got my co-op through my school's job placement office, and got my full-time interview from my co-op. Senior year I had my job offer in the fall, which I'll admit meant I coasted the rest of the year pretty hard ;)

I'm currently a program management engineer for Megamegacorp in jet engine aviation (yes THAT one) . I did 2 co-ops with them, so it's the only engineering environment I know. I've been with the company for 5 years now, hired into their rotational program. It allowed me to try working in different areas of the company, and they paid for my Master's degree (also mechE) including one semester of full-time school with full-time pay.

Pros: Some job stability -- airlines are always looking for more efficiency to save a buck. There is no requirement to stay after program completion, so plenty of people leave after getting the free master's. The majority of the people I've worked with are amazing. Pay is not the best but small increases every year with bumps at job transfer and program graduation. Working for a huge company means that there is a variety of positions for engineers - I've worked in technical design roles, in a technical hands-on role (flight test woohoo!), and now project management. We do have engineers at corporate HQ, and there are management vs technical paths available. Travel-intensive positions available.

Cons: There has been one round of layoffs since I've started. I wouldn't describe our environment as cutthroat at all, but aviation is a very cyclical business (lagging behind the general economic cycles somewhat). Benefits are just ok. Overtime is also cyclical, but it is usually paid (straight time)...I've worked over 80 hours/week before but that isn't the norm. Working with the union. Bureaucracy.

We have oil & gas, energy, power & water divisions which I believe have similar rotational programs.

We recently moved to an 'unlimited paid vacation' system which is a pro or con depending on your manager. My current manager  doesn't care as long as we get the job done. So by the end of the year I'll have taken over my previously allocated 4 weeks.

My SO works for the same company, but his field of expertise/interest is specific enough that we rarely cross paths and will never be on the same team. He really enjoys his job (major aviation nerd). I'm not thrilled with my job but I'm grinding out a few more years before probably becoming a SAHM.

I would advise thinking about how much OT (paid or unpaid) you would be willing to work and what work environment sounds fulfilling to you (is it important for you to see physical results of your work? Do you enjoy running analyses? How much do you want to interact with people?). Once you start, you can always consider/network with other positions/areas of the company. Look into the possibility of doing cross-functional assignments to learn about different parts of the business and learn about what you like.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: MasterStache on November 01, 2016, 08:29:52 AM
To be honest if I had to do it all over again I wouldn't be an engineer. My passions lie elsewhere.
When you think about it, it's a wonder that anyone winds up in a job they're passionate about.  Kids are making decisions at 18 years old (in the form of their college major) that will have a major influence on the type of job they're able to get.  How many people really know what they want to do at that age?  Even if you thought you knew, you might turn out to be wrong.

True, although I didn't start college until I was 26. I spent 4 years screwing around and then 4 years in the military after I became tired and fell horribly in debt from all that screwing around. I don't think I truly found what I was passionate about until my 30s. Now I am just trying to get through my cubicle corporate years so I can pursue those passions and not have to worry about the money. What a sweat relief it will be.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: mm1970 on November 01, 2016, 09:49:39 AM
To be honest if I had to do it all over again I wouldn't be an engineer. My passions lie elsewhere.
When you think about it, it's a wonder that anyone winds up in a job they're passionate about.  Kids are making decisions at 18 years old (in the form of their college major) that will have a major influence on the type of job they're able to get.  How many people really know what they want to do at that age?  Even if you thought you knew, you might turn out to be wrong.
Plus, things change.

I've had 4 or 5 people ask me recently what my "dream job is if money wasn't an object".  (They were asking groups of people.)

That's a tough one.  For one thing, money's not really an object right now.  I could quit.

For another, I don't know.  My job isn't fun anymore.  But my boss is nice and very flexible.  I am learning new things, which is good, but also stressful (it's a lot of new things).

My most favorite jobs in the past were very hands-on, or at least part hands-on.  Doing process development work in our fab.  Training new engineers and technicians.  Developing new products and procedures using new tools.  Running designed experiments and analyzing results.  For awhile I managed a group of six younger engineers, so I trained them, scheduled the development work, and our group kept the fab running 24/7 with equipment qualifications and tests, SPC, etc.

That job doesn't exist in my company anymore (we outsourced), and there aren't many positions in town like that anymore either.

So as time went on, the hands-on became management for me, and now just a different type of job.  Not everyone gets to keep doing the fun stuff.

Plus personal needs change too - I can't work 50 hours a week anymore.  It's hard to stay excited about a job that expects that.  Culture matters.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: WranglerBowman on November 01, 2016, 11:14:43 AM
I have an M.S. in Environmental Engineering, focus on water resources, and most of my friends from college were all engineering/physics (Graduated 2007, followed by tough economic years).  Internships and having real experience prior to graduating will generally put you ahead of the crowd, always think about staying ahead of the crowd and building a strong resume because you are more marketable (to survive the storms) and able to land the better jobs that come along, which also generally pay more with better benefits.  I work at a fortune 100 energy firm and the main reason I got my position is M.S. from a good school, loads of experience from many years of interning, as well as working at small firms where I was an integral part of projects doing a lot of different things.  Also got as many licenses and qualifications as I could.  Get involved in as much as you can more as a lifestyle than as a job.  In my opinion most engineers don't make enough and about half the engineers, my age, have moved away from engineering to other jobs due to better pay and less stress.  If I were fresh out of school again I would probably find a high paying job that requires you to live on site, e.g. oil rig, or something like that so you can bank as much money as possible as early as possible, then settle down from there.  The large municipalities and federal government positions are pretty solid jobs for a careers.  I think the hot fields over the next couple decades will be sustainability, energy, robotics/programming, and infrastructure rehab.

What sort of internships and licenses/certifications did you get? What would you recommend for water, air or general energy?

I worked as a Civil Engineer/Environmental Engineer at the same firm for 3 summers.  I started surveying for them as a summer job after high school and then got moved inside once they figured out what my major was in college.  For licenses you normally have to have experience but you can pick up certifications (Sediment and Erosion Control, Qualified Water Sampler, etc...) just by taking a class and passing a simple test.  Water, air, or general energy?  The certifications are normally pretty niche so I would gear it towards what you think you want to do right now and look for more specific certifications in that field.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Rhoon on November 01, 2016, 01:16:35 PM
Computer Engineer --

My Advice: Go Electrical. If you like to code, you can still pick it up.

I went through banking -> Military -> Technical Sales.

Pros:
- High pay (easy to get to 6 figures in a short duration)
- Good Benefits
- Lots of free training/certification if the company is worth its salt

Cons:
- Lots of travel (2-3 weeks per month) ** this is a con when you have a family


If you like to travel and can speak effectively to key decision makers, it's definitely a field worth getting into. I would recommend getting a PMP as well.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: Dezrah on November 01, 2016, 03:32:27 PM
B.S.M.E. here.  Got my PE, but haven't actually stamped anything yet.  Lucked into curtain wall design.  Those skyscrapers that look like they're made of glass?  Those are aluminum frames holding up glass.  That's what I design.  (Note: I use the word "design" in the engineering sense, not in the aesthetics sense or inventor sense.)  It's a super-niche engineering subset that is somewhere between Civil/Structural/Mechanical/Construction Engineering.  The industry itself is about 2/3rds Civil, 1/3rd Mechanical Engineers.  Personally I love writing calculations and doing design work.  This was my first job, my third job (different company), and hopefully will be my last job for a long time.

I worked as a project engineer for a manufacturing company for a while and just didn't care for the work.  I like having numbers assure me whether something is or is not okay in a binary sense and I hated the slapdash approach of manufacturing.

Now that I'm a bit older, I can tell I would have probably been happier studying Civil Engineering from day one.  It may sound silly, but I suspect I stuck with Mechanical largely because that's where the "cool" engineers were.  The Civies were weird by comparison.
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: StudentEngineer on November 02, 2016, 09:11:50 AM
I have a B.S. in ME, 5 years out of school now. In school I was active in a Christian fellowship and the taekwondo team -- semi-leadership positions in both, and they were both on my resume. I pulled a lot of interview question responses from my experience with taekwondo.
I got my co-op through my school's job placement office, and got my full-time interview from my co-op. Senior year I had my job offer in the fall, which I'll admit meant I coasted the rest of the year pretty hard ;)

I'm currently a program management engineer for Megamegacorp in jet engine aviation (yes THAT one) . I did 2 co-ops with them, so it's the only engineering environment I know. I've been with the company for 5 years now, hired into their rotational program. It allowed me to try working in different areas of the company, and they paid for my Master's degree (also mechE) including one semester of full-time school with full-time pay.

Pros: Some job stability -- airlines are always looking for more efficiency to save a buck. There is no requirement to stay after program completion, so plenty of people leave after getting the free master's. The majority of the people I've worked with are amazing. Pay is not the best but small increases every year with bumps at job transfer and program graduation. Working for a huge company means that there is a variety of positions for engineers - I've worked in technical design roles, in a technical hands-on role (flight test woohoo!), and now project management. We do have engineers at corporate HQ, and there are management vs technical paths available. Travel-intensive positions available.

Cons: There has been one round of layoffs since I've started. I wouldn't describe our environment as cutthroat at all, but aviation is a very cyclical business (lagging behind the general economic cycles somewhat). Benefits are just ok. Overtime is also cyclical, but it is usually paid (straight time)...I've worked over 80 hours/week before but that isn't the norm. Working with the union. Bureaucracy.

We have oil & gas, energy, power & water divisions which I believe have similar rotational programs.

We recently moved to an 'unlimited paid vacation' system which is a pro or con depending on your manager. My current manager  doesn't care as long as we get the job done. So by the end of the year I'll have taken over my previously allocated 4 weeks.

My SO works for the same company, but his field of expertise/interest is specific enough that we rarely cross paths and will never be on the same team. He really enjoys his job (major aviation nerd). I'm not thrilled with my job but I'm grinding out a few more years before probably becoming a SAHM.

I would advise thinking about how much OT (paid or unpaid) you would be willing to work and what work environment sounds fulfilling to you (is it important for you to see physical results of your work? Do you enjoy running analyses? How much do you want to interact with people?). Once you start, you can always consider/network with other positions/areas of the company. Look into the possibility of doing cross-functional assignments to learn about different parts of the business and learn about what you like.

Thats a great point about really thinking of how future work aligns with my interests.  Right now I'd be happy to work long hours (preferably paid, or a higher base salary).  Seeing results, while not necessary, would be nice.  Ideally I'd like to work in a smaller group setting, more focused on specific things; however, I could see myself transitioning into a position overseeing multiple groups.  But I am not a fan of office management per se, so I would prioritize field management, with some hands-on work included.

I love the idea of the rotational programs to get a sense of other positions within a field.

B.S.M.E. here.  Got my PE, but haven't actually stamped anything yet.  Lucked into curtain wall design.  Those skyscrapers that look like they're made of glass?  Those are aluminum frames holding up glass.  That's what I design.  (Note: I use the word "design" in the engineering sense, not in the aesthetics sense or inventor sense.)  It's a super-niche engineering subset that is somewhere between Civil/Structural/Mechanical/Construction Engineering.  The industry itself is about 2/3rds Civil, 1/3rd Mechanical Engineers.  Personally I love writing calculations and doing design work.  This was my first job, my third job (different company), and hopefully will be my last job for a long time.

I worked as a project engineer for a manufacturing company for a while and just didn't care for the work.  I like having numbers assure me whether something is or is not okay in a binary sense and I hated the slapdash approach of manufacturing.

Now that I'm a bit older, I can tell I would have probably been happier studying Civil Engineering from day one.  It may sound silly, but I suspect I stuck with Mechanical largely because that's where the "cool" engineers were.  The Civies were weird by comparison.

Thats a pretty neat line of work you're in.  I'm also leaning away from manufacturing, from what I've heard its more repetitive and tedious ( + desk bound ).   Civil engineering is another field that piques my interest.

Thanks for your comments!
Title: Re: Engineers here - What do YOU do?
Post by: adwasy on November 02, 2016, 01:10:38 PM

I work for a company that has offices all over the world with 90k employees. The department i am in in the location we are at is not at all what you described. I wouldn't be so closed minded if i were you. It really depends on the company/office/location. We don't have to dress a certain way. Small companies can have all kinds of rules too.


Fair enough. I suppose I am speaking from what I have experienced compared to what my friends working at larger firms have. I`d hold no bias against a company for being large if had the work culture I like.