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Interview-an-Engineer Type Postings

  1. Sep 30, 2009 #1


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    Perhaps this ought to go in Forum Feedback, but I think that other engineers should be weighing in on this.

    In any case, it seems that nary a week goes by without a (usually new) poster in one of the Engineering subforums asking for people to complete some sort of Interview-an-Engineer survey. For what it's worth, I've got several (sometimes contradictory) opinions on this:

    • When I was younger, I did an assignment like this (though it was just "Interview somebody with a career"), but I went and found someone to talk to one-on-one. I think, in part, that these surveys are rarely turned down because they're usually fairly quick, not terribly personal, and that most people remembering having to do it way back in the day. Would picking up a phone book and just flipping to Engineer not give you better odds of finding someone willing to do this (and local to boot!)
    • The same sorts of things get posted, often by the same few posters who actually respond to these sorts of things. Part of me thinks that Stickying a thread with Engineer Profiles would make things more efficient, and cut down on a lot of these postings (or would make short work of such requests), but another part of me realizes that this would probably defeat the purpose of these assignments (requiring people to do an actual interview, and find out somebody's story, and maybe make a contact), is terribly impersonal, and that ASME or IEEE or similar bodies probably have a "Typical X Engineer" profile page somewhere.
    • Why take to the Internet in the first place? You can't really tell who's who, and whether or not credentials are what are claimed, nor that the information presented is actually of relevance in your locale (e.g. how long, and what's required to be a professional engineer, job prospects, etc.)
    • Instead of giving them a fish, do we teach them to fish, instead? I'd ask "Is it so hard to find an engineer?", but then again, I'm surrounded by people studying for, practicing, and/or holding engineering degrees. A listing, perhaps, of possible places to go to for lists of engineers in a certain locale, or even lists by type (though I'd feel a little sorry for the first person on the list), or what to look under in the Yellow pages, or just tips for how to go about getting or conducing an interview (e.g. no 1337-speak, be courteous and professional, the fact that the person being interviewed may, in fact, be a contact / employer one day, etc.) Then again, I see a few of these where people are basically pleading for last-minute type help, and the above, of course, take time.

    Just thought I'd start a conversation on this, since I see so many of these, and a fair number that drop by the way-side.

    FULL DISCLAIMER: I have not answered a single one of these since I'm not yet a practicing engineer...
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2009 #2


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  4. Oct 4, 2009 #3


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    A couple of variations of this type of Inquire A Source In The Field question are sometimes assigned to students. One type is much as previously described, talk to a scientific-based professional and ask certain questions. The other type of assignment is, to ask a question to a scientific-based company about a material or process. I would initially imagine that the purpose of the assignment is to adjust to speaking to people who are in the field of interest or adjust to speaking to a sequence of people through departments of companies. More about these types of assignments may be understood from the actual course outline of the course in which the student were given the Inquiry assignment. An official course objective should be listed to justify the Inquiry assignment.

    My current impression of any type of Inquiry to Professional or Company is that the main inquiry action should be done live, in-person; and not limited to just telephone or internet. Further, back in class, the student should be expected to provide data about the inquiry: Who spoke to, name address telephone number of the company, report of questions asked and responses given. The student should also report his/her course, school name to the person or company in the field.
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