The Expectations vs. Reality in Mechanical Engineering Field


In this post I want to talk about  about the difference between real engineering in the workplace and school engineering and what we thought engineering was going to be like so now what do you what do you do I am a design and manufacturing engineer at a manufacturing plant in clairemaude they produce I want to say they’re like electoral mechanical connectors for aerospace and other industrial applications how long a minute in that I’ve been doing that for four years after I graduated college in 2010 I got a job like maybe three months after and I’ve been there ever since okay so we’re gonna make this into like a little game and each of us wrote five cards of what we thought entering was going to be like an actual reality so I’ll go first so I think and for number one is I thought mechanical engineering was going to be way more hands-on than it really is and an actual real life so everybody has that perception that mechanical engineering is super gonna be like a mix of designing and it makes it like working with your hands – I think in actuality none of the engineering positions I had had any hands-on part to them and I would say like most mechanical engineers that I met through school or my classmates they don’t really have hands-on positions either what about you since I work in a manufacturing plant I guess I’m a little more involved hands-on then then say like a quality engineer or something who generally have to do a lot of paperwork but the hands-on things I do are mostly scoping looking at parts measuring parts or uh well you know once in a while just for fun I would I would put parts together but that’s generally just to learn about the products better yeah it’s not it’s not like actual functional world it’s just to learn right there pretty much auxilary rolls its we just say like hands on is not as fun as it seemed like it would be yeah I mean a lot of the hands-on stuff are repetitive putting things together or measuring parts the way the way things are designed they’re supposed to make it such that anybody with no education to be able to put together that’s the whole point because we can’t afford we can’t afford mistakes so we have to make our design like stupid proof so that almost anybody who’s assembling them could put them together yeah what’s your first card the design work involves a lot of creativity so what’s what’s the reality was the was idea that you had in school and then what’s the reality well you know in school I thought okay well it’s gonna be cool because once I start working they’re gonna they’re going to give you some general guidelines on on what needs to be designed and you get to start designing from the bottom down however that is not the case at all and there’s two major reason the first one is that keep in mind that you’re working for a company they don’t want to spend a lot of money and if you’re going to build everything from the ground up it’s gonna cost a lot of money you know it’s going to be a lot of argue you have to order new material and stuff they generally generally like to recycle a lot of old designs that have been proven to work except with slight modifications to accommodate whatever your customers may need and the second thing is maybe maybe it’s just a my specific line of work but we work off of government documents and in those document in those documents they already outline exactly what everything should be you know how how big something should be how long it should be what kind of voltage it should withstand all that stuff so basically you’re just doing a lot of copy and pasting yeah that’s actually something I noticed too when I worked at SoCalGas pacifically like closer you are to the government like less creativity there Chris pretty much our job was to make sure all the pipes were in regulation for each other and so it’s you don’t have creative freedom you’re just hole along within the law it’s like the laws take away all the creative freedom that that you would get if you had to design right so pretty much I would agree like pretty much no creative work I haven’t met I I have not had a little very little creativity in my engineering the only creative things I’ve done was Excel programming where my boss actually didn’t know what how to do it so it’s like she has to just give me some guidelines and then I make an Excel program which isn’t even mechanical engineering so yeah I would agree yeah you have to keep in mind that when you’re making parts for the government they have to be interchangeable with other parts meaning the parts that you build at your factory has to be made able or individual components they have to be interchangeable with other companies parts so that’s why they’re so standardized and that’s why they don’t want too much creativity because then that keeps parts from so it’s like it’s like a USB Drive like you don’t get you don’t measure up that shape of USB drivers anyone fit with other USB drives yeah yeah okay a perfect example so my next card is I thought being a mechanical engineer was actually gonna involve a lot of math and engineering ah of all my comp engineers I know including you all of us have agreed that we use barely any math being an engineer I’m talking we barely use like algebra multiplication yeah and that’s pretty much it like anything like even calculus or beyond never use any of that’s the I’m lucky if I get to square a number so no math for you to write just very basic algebra and what I do a lot since I work in since I work in more of a manufacturing kind of company I do a lot of tolerant stacking so it’s just basic addition and subtraction do you uh have you met any mechanical engineers that do a lot of like intense math like maybe that’s a night I go to a finite element analysis we met anyone that works in those fields no no not me personal I think those positions do exist were but they’re like very specific positions they’re very niche and I would say most mechanical engineering positions are not going to be like that heavy on math yeah I agree I what’s your next part my next card you will need to validate your design with scientific equations so it’s kind of similar to what we were talking about about math you don’t really use a lot of the scientific principles that that view that you’ve learned in college either just very basic stuff you know all you have to do is understand basic physical concepts for example metal expands under heat simple stuff like that but you’re never ever required to do a thorough fluid dynamic analysis or a thorough mechanical or thermal evaluation to validate your design a lot of the designs basically like I said as I mentioned prior they’re basically copy and paste from designs that have been proven to work and how how they validate whether a design work or not is by undergoing testing all right next car for me okay next one is making is different from enjoying and so one of the most common comments I get on my channel is a lot of people that are car enthusiasts they think oh I’m going to be a mechanical engineer but they don’t realize that designing car parts is way different from like riding in a nice car and enjoying it yeah I’ll make the perfect analogy I thought of this ahead of time I listen to music every day right you like most like most people I listen to music all the time right but when I try to make music I just don’t like it I just don’t like it at all and that’s because I just don’t enjoy making music and what a lot of you car enthusiasts are gonna find is that you might really enjoy cars a lot but as soon as you got to design something in SolidWorks it’s gonna feel awful for you because you don’t enjoy making it so you did when you got your Ellis aerospace job did you think it was going to be like way more engaging than it is a little bit I mean I knew that I knew that for the majority of the job I was gonna just do a lot of paperwork and stuff like that but it’s not like I get to go on the airplanes that I that I’ve designed parts for either some I already knew that was gonna be a little bit you know boring but I’ve come to terms with it it’s so it’s a pretty okay gig but it’s sure as hell not as fine as white D I’ve initially thought yeah what’s your next card okay so well this one was actually something that we already brought up hands on work okay so can I agreed on that oh yeah definitely so like what’s what do you know but let me tell you what my what my work entails generally uh well every morning I do something called material review board a material review basically there’s there’s austere blurry basically there’s a table full of defective parts and I have to make a disposition on it are they are they you know use as is meaning they’re fine the way they are are they rework is it something that we could rework to make them usable or are they just complete scrap and myself and as well as a representative from quality and a representative from production we look at these parts and we have to all agree on the disposition scrap rework uses is also most mostly days I’m just familiar familiarizing myself with the government specs that we were mentioning earlier you do a lot of reading a lot of signing papers a lot of salata a salon people work yeah a lot of paper yeah and engineering basically there you’re just there to uh to take the fall I guess here let me elaborate a little bit yeah you see I thought about I thought about this a little data and and what I think is kind of funny is that for for almost every professional job whether you’re you’re an engineer a lawyer a doctor or an accountant yeah the underlying goal or the underlying role that you’re providing to the company is generated is generating legal documents it just so happens that engineers their legal documents have gained a lot of job contains a lot of diagrams and measurements yeah but that’s what I mean by take the falls you know some sometimes you have people who who aren’t very comfortable with moving certain parts along because they think it’s defective so I have to I have to write or sign something that says yeah these parts are good move them along do you know any of your my chemical engineering friends that have a have more hands-on position well tell the truth no most of them are also office workers they do similar stuff where they just sign papers I actually think yours is actually closer to hands-on than most people’s yes you your office is it in the manufacturing plant together yeah most people I’m not sure you know this like people just design things here and they just ship it off to China that’s how most things are made that’s why everything’s made in China that’s why your iPhone is so cheap so if you wanted your iPhone made here and be like a two thousand dollar phone or you have it you know made in China and it’ll be a $600 phone so everyone’s yeah I mean I do do a little bit more hands-on stuff than my friends because for example sometimes when when I’m doing this material review board stuff if I’m looking at part and I think I could and if I think I could fix it myself I just take the initiative to fix it myself today yeah you do have a little bit you do a little bit of repair but I would say like most mechanical engineers don’t do a report all no and and the thing is that it’s nobody asked me to do it it’s just something that I do just to kind of mix it you know keep it keep my day interesting yeah I would say well maybe not said no than we can bring it but my next card is you can’t just work for any company and I wrote this card because I’m bring it back two cars one comment I had was like you know I live in Australia I’m really into cars I want to major in mechanical engineering well I’m gonna tell them like there’s no way because Australia doesn’t make cars so if you’re even in America there’s only two places right Detroit and a little bit of here in California besides that if you’re not in one of those two places it’s going to be really hard for you to work in the car industry and same thing with aerospace aerospace is in everywhere there’s a lot in California there’s a lot of Washington a lot in Texas but I mean there’s also states where there’s no aerospace at all and uh to be honest it’s not that great moving it’s really great if you move to say that it was like fun like New York that’s not where engineering firms are engineering firms are where there’s cheap land so that they can pick a lot of it so I knew like for example Lockheed Martin one of the major aerospace companies there out in Oklahoma like nobody nobody wants to relocate to Oklahoma right there’s another one um another I think is like Lockheed also they’re in Palmdale California yeah it’s like nobody wants to move to Palmdale so uh relocating for these like defense companies or aerospace companies typically they move to where the land is cheaper because they need a lot of it the price per acre price per acre but on top of that when you build in a city there’s more rules in cities yeah and you just can’t do a lot of things so when you do get these aerospace jobs they’re typically going to be in less desirable places next time okay my car you do not need to be proficient in reading and writing a lot of Engineers they think that they don’t take their their English classes too seriously you know they just say I’m not saying all of them but a lot of the stereotype is that it’s a way to continue if you’re good at math you don’t need to be good at you don’t need to be good at writing but since you’re working and since your work encompasses a lot of reading and writing especially government documents you better understand what those government documents are asking of you otherwise you’re going to get it’s a lot of trouble and as I mentioned before what you’re generating are legal documents so if you’re not very clear about what it is that you’re trying that you’re trying to communicate and you’re leaving it up to be ambiguous it can get you do a lot of trouble for me I actually haven’t had that much read and running but I’ve had a lot of e-mails back and forth yeah so if you want to come off cordial and email which is a really big thing and when you work in office it’s good to be able to write in a way that’s fluid um especially when it comes if you’re correcting someone yeah you never want to come off like douchey okay fix this you do this wrong you know there’s there’s a very elegant way to tell someone they date they messed up yeah and I just one bad email that’s like you come up too harsh then you kind of work it it’s really awkward yeah I’m glad you brought up the email stuff because as an engineer you’re gonna have to communicate with a lot of customers and a lot of these customers some of them are are like sales reps and people without a lot of technical skills so you would you would have to convey to them all the technical information in a way in which they would understand this is my next part you oh yeah my next part is that this is the last card okay I thought engineering was going to be you’re gonna you’re given a really hard problem and a saw and you work collaboratively and a team to solve that problem because school emphasizes that so much like Oh getting a team for your senior project right you were an unlike a green energy team right we are win win win energy team I was on Team human powered vehicle team and then you go to work and it’s nothing like that at all it’s more like your boss tells you what to do and you do it there’s no like you get in a group and you talk about like how to solve this problem and I kind of feel like it’s a lie like I I haven’t even had any my your friends that had that experience where they did like collaborate together to saw like an engineering problem in a work life yeah I mean basically when we get your design work yes the boss does kind of tell you how to go about it but at least in my case I get to exercise a little bit more creativity because since I have more hands-on experience them boss generally lets me do whatever I want because they they they think I’m better qualified to design the parts than they do but I would absolutely agree do you have anything collaborative at your work similar to your wind project in college no I mean basically it’s it’s broken down to whoever whoever is the expert in this specific product or that specific product every time every time a customer asks for something it just goes directly to that person that person is generally 100% responsible for putting everything together yeah what’s your last card last card you don’t have to be personable meaning if you don’t if well when I was in college I thought engineering work was gonna be like all right well I’m just gonna be locked in a room by myself and just working with machines and and tools and stuff and nobody’s gonna bother me and I don’t have to talk to anybody but that is definitely not the case you are gonna have to talk to a lot of people and especially especially customers and the way you come off to them is very important so yeah you have to have a good personality and you have to be you have to be able to communicate well so for for your engineers who don’t think that soft skills are important they’re they are very important yeah that’s a guy goes on to lot with cultural fit it’s really hard even you have really good social skills if you’re not a cultural fit everything is a socially awkward yeah and that’s the hardest part about being an engineer if you’re like a really social person say if you’re I think this is actually there’s a article saying a lot of girls who are so there’s already a few amount of girls going into engineering are the ones that are going into engineering getting jobs a lot of them are leaving to do other things like becoming a teacher and I really think a lot of that is because they just don’t like the environment and I just think it’s not like if you’re a social butterfly I think it’s a really bad place to work in most cases yeah for me it’s like getting along with other engineers and that’s probably one of the hardest parts of my job yes yeah engineers are pretty arrogant they are uh and it was probably like I would never want to hang out with those guys for a minute outside of work it is can that kind of deal in most cases at most jobs that I had yeah I mean most of the people who I hang out with at my workplace are the production people because you know they’re just like your regular everyday people yeah I guess some comments on my channel was saying I’m a jerk man you should meet some of these engineers there they’re way more do sheet like way more douchey and it’s funny cuz like a lot of people want to be engineers I’m like you’re not just you’re not you’re gonna face douchey guys for sure if you work as an engineer there is not a single company where I worked for where there was not like an arrogant engineer hmm yeah but don’t be a douche don’t be a douche yeah thanks for checking out that video guys if you guys want to check out my last video on mechanical engineering you can click over there and if you haven’t subscribed yet go ahead and subscribe because it’d be awesome to have you as a subscriber Anna thank you for watching goodbye mechanical engineers is to get really good at SolidWorks on your own way just find a way to get good at it practice through the tutorials maybe enter a student competition and do all the SolidWorks works and then that is going to help you a lot when you interview because a lot of

Aly Chiman

Aly Chiman is a Blogger & Reporter at which covers a wide variety of topics from local news from digital world fashion and beauty . AlyChiTech covers the top notch content from the around the world covering a wide variety of topics. Aly is currently studying BS Mass Communication at University.