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How much do you get to help/deal with people in engineering?

  1. Jul 17, 2015 #1
    Hi! I'm a high school student currently looking to potentially go to college for engineering. I'm not very concerned with my abilities in math and science, as I've always done well in those subjects and math in particular is a favorite subject of mine. However, I'm wondering if there's a branch of engineering that might fit with my interests more. The main reason I've strayed from considering engineering in the past is because I want a career where I can interact with people to some degree, help them, and be able to see and know that I'm helping them. From what I've read, engineering is about creating solutions to problems, but I'd like to be able to interact with the people I'm helping more than it seems most engineers do.

    Does anyone have experience or knowledge about this aspect of engineering, or know of a branch that fits what I'm looking for? Sorry if my question is hard to understand. Thank you so much for your input!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 17, 2015 #2
    I don't think you are looking for one kind of engineering or another (Mechanical, Electrical, or Civil, for example), but rather for a job after graduation within your chosen field that will have lots of people interaction.
     
  4. Jul 17, 2015 #3

    SteamKing

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    Believe me, once you become an engineer, you will not lack for interaction with different people, especially as deadlines for projects approach. You will be urged to create time travel ("I need this done, and I need it done yesterday!"), and constantly motivated to do the impossible with little in the way of time, money, or other resources.

    You will find that sometimes, the chief impediment to creating solutions and reaching your goals is all this interaction going on with other people.
     
  5. Jul 17, 2015 #4

    billy_joule

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    James Trevelyan has done some research in this area, he said;
    • Regardless of experience or title, about 60% of an engineer’s time is spent in direct interactions with other people.
    • Engineers spend approximately 30% of their time coordinating the activities of others.
    You can listen to him speak on the topic here:
    http://theengineeringcommons.com/episode-19-value/
    There are some relevant links in the notes.
     
  6. Jul 17, 2015 #5

    SteamKing

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    That only leaves about 10% of an engineer's time actually spent engineering. o_O :frown: :sorry:
     
  7. Jul 17, 2015 #6

    billy_joule

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    A quick skim of his paper 'Technical Coordination in Engineering Practice' suggests time spent coordinating others is a subset of time spent interacting with others.
     
  8. Jul 20, 2015 #7
    Our applications engineers are constantly in direct contact with their customers daily. They are often traveling to the sites where our products are being implemented to evaluate/troubleshoot areas of concern. Our process and manufacturing engineers are much less engaged with customers - if at all. I can tell you from personal experience that the majority of our days in general are spent in meetings, filling out expense reports, dabbling with CAD, running FEA, etc.

    I believe there is a large difference between how the school system portrays an engineering career and what it's actually like - at least in the US. I was eager to start designing gadgets and equipment to help people. I was ready to start using everything I had learned in school. The reality of it is, applying what you've learned in school is hardly half of the job. What they don't teach you in an engineering curriculum is equally, if not more important, and that is business practice. The politics play a HUGE role in what you will be doing. For some reason, I guess I just assumed that solving problems and designing in the work place was done without money in mind haha. I quickly learned that no matter how brilliant of an idea you have, you had better be able to justify the cost. Often times that is easy to do. What isn't easy to do is to explain why it can't be done with half of the parts, or differently all together. Companies want the cheapest and quickest alternative. They don't need something to be perfect. They just need it to work, not cost a fortune, and not cause the loss of an appendage.

    Back on topic, outside of technical sales "engineers" I would say application engineers spend a good majority of their time dealing directly with customers.
     
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