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Thread: Engineering.

  1. #1
    Noble Asshole Horatio's Avatar
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    Engineering.

    The forum search didn't yield any salient results on this topic, so I thought I'd make a thread for engineering-related bits and pieces. I am not an engineer but I do have a soft spot for the "ghost in the machine".

    Are there any professional or amateurs engineers on this forum? Engineering students, perhaps? I wonder what the job chances are these days.

    Here is a video of a rather neat ornithopter for a start.


  2. #2
    singularity precursor Limes's Avatar
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    Being a computer field service engineer was one of the best jobs I ever had. I'm not even sure it exists anymore as a job, it was on its way out at the end of the nineties as component repairs that I had trained and been educated for, gave way to module repairs (e.g. whole boards instead of components on the boards) and eventually, entire replacement units, with the old ones being taken back to the lab, effectively relegating us to FedEx on some jobs.

    Having said that, in the heyday, it was wonderful to grab a stack of regional assignments, figuring the sequence/route (pre GPS days) - grabbing spare parts that you think you might need (Laserjet fuser rolls/units ahoy! - Oki platen cogs, etc) people were always happy to see the repair guy arrive (in the start we wore suits, but as exclusivity waned, new people downgraded it to a shirt with no tie)

    I can recommend electronics engineering and computer science education/degrees as a sorting hat of sorts (glad I made the switch from engineering)

  3. #3
    Noble Asshole Horatio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limey View Post
    Being a computer field service engineer was one of the best jobs I ever had. I'm not even sure it exists anymore as a job, it was on its way out at the end of the nineties as component repairs that I had trained and been educated for, gave way to module repairs (e.g. whole boards instead of components on the boards) and eventually, entire replacement units, with the old ones being taken back to the lab, effectively relegating us to FedEx on some jobs.

    Having said that, in the heyday, it was wonderful to grab a stack of regional assignments, figuring the sequence/route (pre GPS days) - grabbing spare parts that you think you might need (Laserjet fuser rolls/units ahoy! - Oki platen cogs, etc) people were always happy to see the repair guy arrive (in the start we wore suits, but as exclusivity waned, new people downgraded it to a shirt with no tie)
    That sounds pretty amazing.

    I can recommend electronics engineering and computer science education/degrees as a sorting hat of sorts (glad I made the switch from engineering)
    Why are you glad you made the switch? Better pay? Fewer ISTJ colleagues to put up with?

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    singularity precursor Limes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horatio View Post
    That sounds pretty amazing.
    It would probably be called sexist by the PC crowd, but we had about 25 field engineers, all male (at least until some oddball pre-op trans guy showed up) and an all female contingent back at the open plan office doing dispatch, call handling, processing, part ordering etc.
    There was something about the way the upstairs office was open plan and everyone faced the entry door that would make me have a big shit eating grin every time I walked through the door.
    It was helped because I had built a reputation as a go-to guy for sending to customers and smoothing other people's fuck ups over.
    The money wasn't great though but the perk of a company car and petrol card were nice.


    Why are you glad you made the switch? Better pay? Fewer ISTJ colleagues to put up with?
    Both, but more for the latter, though it's the work itself that's too rigid and systematic than the people in it. I have enough trouble with reports and expenses, never mind carrying out repetitive tasks in the work itself.
    Autonomy and open ended tasks are where its at.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BarIII's Avatar
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    I don't have much electronics engineering skill but when they were still trying to make a robot that walks on two legs, I was convinced that I could do it. I fantasized that I was a celebrity and said that in public and someone publicly challenged me to do it, preferably offering access to assistants who knew more about electronics, and some kind of budget. I'd do the computer programming or else dictate how the code be written using pseudo code. I even heard someone saying it may never happen. Not long after that it seems they started coming out with new bipedal robots every few years.
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    know nothing pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    "Engineering" is pretty broad. I'm an engineering student, have been one for way too long now. I've dropped out of the year-long senior design course twice now. As far as jobs go, I get the impression they're still just handing them out to anyone with an ABET-accredited degree.

  7. #7
    full of shit Dr. Fungi the Fifth's Avatar
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    I've been an engineer for ~7 years.

    I went to college for Electrical and Computer Engineering. Honestly, college was really interesting (if you like math and physics) and the projects were quite fun. From an academic standpoint, I would recommend it.

    After graduating, I worked in the industry in three different positions:

    Test Engineer: I wrote tests for flash memory chips. This was honestly kind of boring and repetitive. A lot of tests were copy-paste jobs, the code architecture was pretty bad due to people not knowing actual software engineering, and most of the NTs left the department.

    Test Applications Engineer: I basically wrote the libraries that the Test Engineers (see description above) used. This was a little more interesting, as I had the freedom to architect the libraries any way I saw fit, but then I had to support an endless stream of questions from the engineers, and this was kind of an informal support role, so there was no method of prioritizing/balancing said support without being completely overloaded.

    Software Engineer: This is the position I'm in now, and I write software for the automation systems my company uses to test these parts. This is pretty close to a pure software development job, and it's awesome, and I think ideal for many an INTP. You get to architect these systems as you see fit, pay the price for your oversights, and learn a lot. It's a lot of freedom and you're constantly engaging your brain.

    The lesson I learned from all this is that jobs in the software engineering are more my cup of tea than jobs in hardware engineering. Nearly all my xNTx friends in Engineering agree, honestly... I think it's because most of the innovation in the hardware/electrical industry is pretty much done by the physicists and researches, so the engineers are essentially re-implementing these concepts. In software, even though there are best practices and design patterns, fitting your solutions into known frameworks requires more creativity and intelligence. I guess this is a broad generalization, but it's just what I've seen. I think doing research in Electrical or Computer would be pretty cool, though.

    To actually answer your question: Job outlook for engineering in general is pretty great, and excellent for software engineering in particular. However, at my company, I see a lot of the hardware jobs outsourced due to it being more of a procedural-type job, and they tend to keep the development and design in the U.S.

  8. #8
    non-canonical Light Leak's Avatar
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    My brother went to school for agricultural engineering and does food science now. He doesn't seem to have any trouble getting jobs. I don't know if that's just him or because there are lots of jobs in the industry.

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    Utisz's Avatar
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    Electronic and computer engineering degree, represent.

    Now I teach/research computer science, with focus on databases, knowledge representation, graph stuff ... the gud shit.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    I am an engineer, EE by education. Interesting we don't have any MEs, CEs, or ChemEs so far.

    As far as jobs, being trained to solve problems and build things people want/need is pretty good direction.

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