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Automotive Alternate approach to Engineering (opinion please!)

  1. Jan 11, 2013 #1
    This is not a re-post of my other thread in general section, so please understand.

    First, a brief description of myself: I'v gotten my associates degree in Automotive Technology/Repair, with perfect scores. ASE certified. But I have always been an aspiring Mechanical Engineer, with assisted passion for technical/hands-on intuition. That is why I studied a vocational field before entering my Higher Education Studies.

    I am writing an additional essay for my admission to University of Texas' Engineering Department. The criteria is based on a single issue, or topic of interest that I want to explain to someone, it can be anyone.

    Working in the Auto service field, and studying engineering, I have noticed a certain characteristic which both technicians and Engineers lack. (my roommate is an engineer, and I have worked with engineers in the past).

    This is my proposal:

    Most engineers graduate from a 4year university, and go right into the field. While many of them don't actually have a major impact on the design of a particular "thing", they are required to problem solve, within the restrictions of deadlines, and their prior experience with theory. But thats just it! Many entry level engineers lack the hands-on experience in the automotive service industry. So their designs are biased toward what looks good on paper (somewhat).

    Example: I was doing the simplest task on a subaru, changing the oil. Engineers must design oil filters in a manner that would be quickly and easily accessible to technicians. Why is it that the god damn catalytic converter (hottest part of the car, approaching 1000 degrees f) is molded around the oil filter. This means every time a person reaches for the filter by hand, and often even with a pair of pliers, they are prone to injury, all because the engineers were not considering a factor.

    This is why an engineer with an intuition of automotive service is important to have around, when designing automotive components. That is why I should be a member of this school, because I can make an impact on the engineering community as a whole.

    Yes I know I sound cocky, i'm just trying to make a point. I think it may certainly help me in admission to one of the most competitive engineering schools in the country.

    THANK YOU FOR READING, please give me your opinion, engineers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2013 #2
    Packaging is a nightmare at the best of times, we don't put things in inaccessible locations for a laugh, or to piss you off. It's because in many cases, especially on modern engines, it's just because it really won't fit anywhere else.

    Also people don't just design something and say, 'that's where it goes'. There are months of packaging meetings, where every single system owner wants their part in the prime location and bitches endlessly if it's moved.

    Do oversights happen? Yes.
    Do we consider assembly and maintenance? Yes.
    Is making the technicians job easy the prime concern, not usually.

    It's understandable why you are biased to making a maintenance job easy, but design requires you balance many criteria. You can ask 10 different departments what the priority is and get 10 different answers.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  4. Jan 11, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the response Chris. It was kind of a shoot-down though, haha. I understand it is virtually impossible for every component (particularly in the engine package) to have a perfectly accessible spot. And that more biased opinion only makes it more difficult to draw a consensus on the final outcome.

    But would you agree that an engineer with a highly technical intuition could benefit the community or committee of engineers in the midst of a project?

    Please, help me reorganize my opinion so that I could place it on my admissions essay as an acceptable observation. I have to speak of something that sticks out, and I thought this sort of thing does, and its really meaningful to me, even though its completely debatable, and anti-productive.
  5. Jan 11, 2013 #4
    It wasn't meant to shoot you down. It's just you should know that assembly difficulty is caused more by circumstance than oversight.

    If you ever do packaging work at some point you'll know what I mean. Engineers with practical 'hands on' experience are vital, it's always easier to design something if you taken something similar apart before. Though design is only one narrow aspect of engineering, I'd say practical skills benefit the test engineer more.

    Though speaking from personal experience, if you enjoy the practical side of work, you are likely to hate design. I used to be a design engineer, but I've moved to test engineering (vehicle refinement). The thought of moving back to 8-10 hours sitting behind a desk is crushing.

    The practical skills you have gain are always going to be a big plus, more skills are never a bad thing :)

    To be honest I've got no idea what to write for the admissions essay. I'm not sure what they would even be looking for. Someone around here will though.
  6. Jan 12, 2013 #5

    jim hardy

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    Gold Member

    I'd say you have the idea already, just you need to distill your words.
    Could you write something to the effect : you wish to bring a "eye toward maintenance" into whatever engineering organization you land after graduation. To that end you bring with you firsthand real world experience , and a desire to be a lifelong learner.
    I think that's pretty much what you said above.
    The professors will know whereof you speak.

    When i was a freshman EE, we frosh were still learning Kirchoff and had not yet got into machinery courses.
    i carried my old car's generator ('51 chrysler, before alternators) into Professor's office to ask how it worked. It wasn't charging , i explained.
    I sorta expected to get thrown out on my ear.
    Instead, Professor's face lit up as he cleared some papers off his desk and set the armature down. I got a personal lesson in DC machines. And very practical advice.

    Point being - academia welcomes the practical side. So long as one doesn't think it outweighs the theoretical side, because it doesn't. They are complementary.

    good luck -

    old jim
  7. Jan 18, 2013 #6
    just work very hard to get into and through any Bachelor of Engineering school you can. It will be hard, but never give up. Always ask Professors for help. If you have a passion for Engineering, you will far surpass all those who think they just need an impressive school name on their resume. Seriously consider Electrical Engineering degree in addition to a Mechanical Engineering degree (everything has electronic controls now days). Pay close attention in Micro-Economics or Engineering Econ. Very little happens without money. Take Dale Carnegie or something like it to learn how to sell your ideas. Never give up!
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