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Engineering Hands on engineering

  1. May 23, 2012 #1
    I'm in high school, getting good grades, i enjoy studying physics and mathematics (to a lesser degree chemistry)

    I want to go into engineering, but as i understand it most engineers now days end up stuck behind a desk.(or working in finance/wallstreet/software)

    I want to know if you can be an engineer and be out in the field, and be hands on as well. or is that not possible?

    For instance, an aerospace engineer, designs a plane, but hes not actually building the plane, the skilled tradesmen(aircraft maintenance engineers, electricians, mechanics, technicians and the like) and laborers are the ones doing the actual building

    Would it be possible for an engineer to do the building as well? To be directly involved in the building....

    I would derive a great deal of satisfaction to actually be part of the building process, and see a finished result, and know that i had something to contribute...
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2012 #2
    Not really. Unless you are in a start up, and working on something small, your time as an engineer is not worth wasting on turning bolts and pouring concrete. Not to mention you'd lack the practical experience that the tradesmen would have. If you want quality, you need people focused on their part.

    However, there are many engineering jobs (depends on the company) which have field engineers who work with those people doing the work to make sure it goes well/correctly. I used to work at an aluminum smelter and my office was on-site. I spent about 50% of my time in the plant, and oversaw construction a good deal of the time, too. You obviously have some time behind a desk: it's engineering. But depending on the company and the type of work you are doing, you can see loads of field work as an engineer in almost any field (ie. mech, electrical, chemical, etc).

    Besides, there's just as much satisfaction being part of the design and oversight of a project as there is in turning the nuts and welding the seams.
  4. May 23, 2012 #3
    30 years ago I felt the way you did. Technician work is often looked down upon by many engineers. What they don't realize is that such work can teach you an awful lot about what mistakes the engineers make.

    I started off as an electronics bench technician. I later became a field technician. I learned a great many things that most engineers do not know about the real world.

    Frankly, electronics engineers who do not know how to trigger a scope properly, how to solder, how to evaluate a filter, how to decouple a power supply, --they have my utter contempt.

    I have also met many engineers who didn't understand why you couldn't bolt a venturi metering section of pipe right to a butterfly valve.

    Field work is essential to becoming a good engineer. We need to rub the noses of these cubicle commandos in the real world, to keep them from making stupid mistakes.

    I'm sick and tired of seeing the same old mistakes over and over again. The mistakes I make will at least be novel and unusual. That's all anyone can ask for.

    So while I can't suggest a field of engineering where you can swing a wrench, I do recommend spending a few years as a technician. It will be a huge eye opener.
  5. May 24, 2012 #4

    Well either that, or i could just be involved in a lot of field work, either way, i already am a technician :) I did a few courses a while back and got involved with some work
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