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College student with question about power engineering jobs

  1. Feb 1, 2015 #1
    I am currently a Junior. If I get an entry level job that involves software engineering, would it be hard to land my second job involving power engineering?

    Also, I know the job market for power engineering is good so how would I get experience with it before I graduate? I'm taking a class that involves power but it would be nice to do something outside of class as well.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2015 #2

    davenn

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    I have asked for this to be moved to the career guidance section
     
  4. Feb 1, 2015 #3
    Why would you want to get a entry level job in software if you are interested in power? Just apply as a power engineer. I would suggest you sign up for the Professional Engineer License exam also. You will need a PE for a career in power.
     
  5. Feb 3, 2015 #4

    donpacino

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    The answer to that question would be what industry and department is that software position in. Modern power systems usually have some software control. If you are working at a company that does power, it is possible to switch to a software role on one of those programs and then request to do power stuff.

    That is an uphill battle compared to simply getting an entry job in power
     
  6. Feb 7, 2015 #5
    Look for summer internships in power companies. NOW. Do not wait. The positions are being posted

    The business of merging IT in to Engineering is called Operational Technology or OT. These are not IT jobs. They may look like IT jobs and they often use IT skills, but there are crucial differences. Most of all, in the IT world, if you screw up, you revert to backups and all is well (except for the time you lost). In contrast, restoring a backup won't save much if the equipment it controls is destroyed.

    If you screw up, there could be slag on the floor. If there is an arc flash and some guy loses his hearing, you can't restore that. This field is very very conservative and very cautious. If you have no respect for that point of view, do something else. You are expected to watch their backs and they will watch yours to keep you safe. That trust is easily betrayed and difficult to restore. I have seen people leave the company because they are considered a danger to themselves and others.

    My employer has been hiring for SCADA / ICS positions. We'll accept either an engineering or an IT oriented degree. The key is that if you're an engineer you'll have to learn some IT skills and if you're in IT you'll have to learn some engineering skills. Security is becoming a serious issue in this business and utilities are scrambling to find people who can work on this stuff. Keep in mind that computer security is a very broad and deep field, as is power engineering and control systems. The intersection of the two is very rare. It usually takes ten years of working experience in both before someone can gain credibility from both sides of the issue.

    This is an exciting and exasperating field of employment. There is far too much ignorance on both the IT and the Engineering sides of this field. The IT folk deal with such abstraction that they do not understand the implications of what they suggest, and the Engineers have no idea why their creations are so vulnerable. But that's where the cutting edge of this technology is. That's why this field is growing and will probably continue to grow for a long time to come.
     
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