Engineer Interview

Ask specific questions about careers in science. Questions may be related to information in the Science Careers area of the Science Buddies website or may relate to specific projects or areas of research.

Moderators: MelissaB, kgudger, Ray Trent, Moderators

Engineer Interview

Postby Rorshak » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:07 pm

I am currently enrolled as a sophomore in my local high school. Being interested in engineering and science I am taking an engineering class this year as part of my curriculum, and in this class I was assigned to interview an engineer and I am hoping that someone could answer a short interview.

1.) What is your name
2.) What is your specific degree
3.) What is your place of employment
4.) Please describe your engineering field
5.) What is your current job title
6.)Please describe your particular job and duties
7.)What is your average work schedule
8.) What was your educational background, starting with high school?
9.) If you had the ability to do something over, whether it be in your education or career, what would it be?
10.)What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career path similar to yours?

If any of these questions are too personal I don't want you to feel compelled to answer them. I'd be interested in and greatly appreciate any responses.

Thanks.
Rorshak
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:59 pm
Occupation: Student
Project Question: 1.) What is your specific degree
2.) What is your place of employment
3.) Describe your engineering field
4.) What is your current job title
5.)Please describe your particular job and duties
6.)What is your average work schedule
7.)What was your educational background, starting with high school?
8.)If you had the ability to do something over, whether it be in your education or career, what would it be?
9.)What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career path similar to yours?
Project Due Date: October 1
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Engineer Interview

Postby barretttomlinson » Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:12 am

Hi,

You asked for a response from an engineer. Technically I am a chemist, now retired, but most observers would have called me a software engineer for most of my career. I will give you a synopsis of my career experience.
1.) What is your specific degree
I hold a BA in Chemistry and a PhD in Biophysical Chemistry
2.) What is your place of employment
I worked for two different companies that manufactured instruments used in chemical analysis, then worked as a self employed consultant to one of those companies.
3.) Describe your engineering field
I started out doing research in the then new field of applying minicomputers, then microprocessors and PCs to problems in chemical analysis.
4.) What is your current job title
Currently I am retired. My job titles have always been somewhat ambiguous. I have been called a chemist, a software engineer, an engineering section manager, and a consultant. Generally I could have been called a Member of Technical Staff for much of my career.
5.)Please describe your particular job and duties
Initially I was asked to find new and novel uses of computers in chemical analysis by NMR, EPR, and electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA). My second job started out testing embedded software for problems prior to release. This turned into a job designing software architecture, then developing code and testing the final product, and solving customer reported problems(over 5 product cycles). As a consultant I was mostly told of a customer need and asked to propose and implement a solution to that problem, mostly working alone.
6.)What is your average work schedule
This varied widely by the needs of the company at any given time. I have always worked a flexible work schedule, which for me meant starting work mid morning and working until late in the evening. For long periods of time I was expected to work six day weeks without overtime or compensation for more than 5 day,40 hours/week, but was given some comp time off when the push was over.
7.)What was your educational background, starting with high school?
After graduating from high school I earned a BA in Chemistry from Reed College (Portland, OR) in 4 years, then a PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 4 years, then did a 1 year postdoc in chemistry at the University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) before starting to work in industry.
8.)If you had the ability to do something over, whether it be in your education or career, what would it be?
All my jobs have been enormous fun. I have been mostly able to control how I did my work, and in many instances significantly influence the work objectives I have had. I sometimes wonder if I should have become a college professor, but I am very satisfied with the career I have had and would really not change much even if I could. Publishing articles and giving professional talks, while never a formal part of my job description, would have been enormously helpful to my long term career success.


9.)What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career path similar to yours?
I strongly advocate getting a sound liberal arts college education. Develop the skills to read and write English as well as you can (a standard complaint about engineers is that they typically cannot write well - That severely limits you both in the business and professional worlds.). Learn how to learn new subjects on your own, how to think analytically, and how to write clearly and concisely, and read voraciously. You will need to learn continuously your whole adult life to stay current and competent as an engineer, and your job security and marketability depend almost completely on doing this. Try to understand your world’s problems and challenges and seek solutions to them- Problems are opportunities in disguise. Read and think broadly, don’t restrict your study to your current narrow dicipline. As an engineer most of the technology that you learn in school will be obsolete in less than five years. Most of my successes have been the ability to understand and solve problems across two or more disciplines (I could understand the chemical principles of an analysis & talk to chemists in their language, yet use software engineering skills and also easily work with software and hardware engineers. I had some success understanding image processing techniques and applying them to chemical data, for example.) I would try to spot new emerging technologies and work to understand them before they become widely known. (I was successful working as a software engineer without a software engineering degree because when I started a computer science degree was extremely rare and chemists who understood computers were almost unheard of. Now you would have to have a computer science degree and a chemistry degree to even be considered for most of the jobs I have had.)

I don’t think most people would call my career a typical engineering one, so I hope others will also answer your interview request.

To summarize what I think most engineers would advise:
Learn the art of critical thinking. Learn to write clearly and concisely. Read widely and continuously. Identify the problems in your world niche and find solutions to them. Continuously develop your skills. Learn to market yourself through networking, speaking and publishing.

If you learn to do all this and enjoy it you can have an enormously rewarding career as an engineer.

I wish you great success.

Best regards,

Barrett L Tomlinson
barretttomlinson
Former Expert
 
Posts: 932
Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:24 am

Re: Engineer Interview

Postby dcnick96 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:27 pm

Hi, Rorshak! If you would like a 2nd interview, here you go.

1.) What is your name
Deana

2.) What is your specific degree
Masters, Systems and Industrial Engineering

3.) What is your place of employment
US Air Force, Las Vegas, Nevada

4.) Please describe your engineering field
I would describe SIE as a combination of operations research (statistics), project management, and test methodology. I am on a test team that tests software and hardware upgrades to US Air Force fighter aircraft. It is our job to test the stability and usability of the software / hardware upgrades before releasing the upgrades to the rest of the fighter aircraft community. Our testing is very expensive, so we don't want to launch an aircraft to test and not gain any useful results. My job as the operations analyst is to help the pilots design the test, collect the data, and analyze the information in order to come to a final conclusion, whether it be a recommendation to field the upgrade or to decide how the pilots are going to use the upgrade in their tactics. In other words, I help design a test that will get you the most bang for your buck.

Test methodology: there are many ways you can design a test. I help the pilots decide on what kind of test to conduct, based on what we are testing and what information we are looking for.

Project management: not only do I assist with test design and analysis, but I help coordinate the resources required to execute the test. Anything from ensuring we have jets and pilots available to execute to working with other agencies that may be involved with our test.

Operations Research (statistics): If we are making a recommendation to the Air Force that we are going to accept a software or hardware upgrade from the contractor that built it, we want to ensure the testing we conducted from which we are making this recommendation is a stable conclusion. In other words, we want to ensure our test was representative of what will happen when the upgrade is released to the rest of the Air Force. This is called making statistically sound conclusions. Part of this goes into test design, but it also plays a big part in how I conduct the data analysis to be confident that our conclusion is representative of what will happen when the upgrade is used again by others in the Air Force.

5.) What is your current job title
Operations Research Analyst

6.)Please describe your particular job and duties
I pretty much covered this in answering #4.

7.)What is your average work schedule
Most of the time 40 hours a week, Monday-Friday, 8-5. However, I work when the jets are flying, and this sometimes means I am in at 4 AM or I am working through the night. These occasions, however, are rare.

8.) What was your educational background, starting with high school?
Graduated High School, received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and a Master of Engineering in Systems and Industrial Engineering

9.) If you had the ability to do something over, whether it be in your education or career, what would it be?
I really wouldn't want to do anything over. I like the fact that I didn't go directly from undergraduate to graduate school. Being in the workforce for almost 10 years before starting my Master's helped me truly decide on what I needed to continue my studies in to be successful in my job. What I do now is a completely different industry from what I did immediately after college. I didn't like what I did right after college, but I love what I do now. So, I'm glad my investment in graduate college went towards a job I love and wish to stay in.

Keep this in mind: School, especially your undergraduate degree, gives you a FOUNDATION to build upon. 90% of what you will be required to know to be successful in any job will be on the job training. And, education never ends. I constantly pull out the statistics books and do research online to ensure the methodology I am using is correct and current.

10.)What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career path similar to yours?
A strong background in math. 30 semester hours of math is all that is required for my job. An engineering degree is not required. Flexibility to work non-standard hours on occasion, react to last minute changes, and the ability to work as part of a team.

I hope this helps. Good luck, and feel free to follow up with questions.
Deana
Deana
dcnick96
Moderator
 
Posts: 283
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 7:59 pm


Return to Careers in Science

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests