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Engineering Is it possible to be a Mechanical Engineering Generalist

  1. Aug 23, 2010 #1

    I am mid way through my engineering degree and I had a bit exposure to engineers through various circumstances. I have come to the conclusion that I would like to be a consulting engineer who specializes in analysis of stuff. Now I say stuff and analysis because I would like to be as general as possible to allow for flexibility. I would like to do both FEA and CFD or other types of analysis on pretty much anything. I would be a solid modeler with strong quant skills so I can make it happen. What I have noticed that most companies want to peg in some fashion which cramps flexibility. For example you are a piping guy or metal guy, so you have all the analysis tools restricted to sewer pipes for example or zircalloy alloy. Another type is to be the vibration expert who can anaylze anything but only does vibration stuff. Is my conclusion correct?

    I want to be flexible for the job markets dips turns rises and falls. I feel a solid analytical number cruncher dude with modeling skills is valuable and could be put to use a lot, but I feel its dangerous nowadays to commit to a specific and narrow area.

    I want to run my career by geography so the flexibility will allow me to maintain my current residence of time.

    Any commmets appreicated
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2010 #2
    When you graduate with a bachelor degree, you are not very likely to be too specialize in anything. You can choose classes to place more focus on some area, but it is far from specializing.

    On the other hand, most companies have a very focused line of products that require their workers to fill specific roles. Anyone willing to hire an entry-level engineer would not expect to find someone who knows all the details already. Therefore, training is provided. If you work for a company, at some point you would become specialized in something, although it might not be as narrow as you think it is. Staying too much a "generalist" would only mean you don't know anything deep enough to contribute.

    Having said that, it is not a bad idea to focus on modeling, simulation and analysis. There is certainly a demand of engineers who can compute.
  4. Aug 30, 2010 #3
    Precisely. When you graduate with a bachelors, your really know about absolutely nothing compared to someone with a good 10 years of experience under their belt, ergo, no one is going to be willing to hire you for any kind of consulting. Engineers that are consultants generally have a lot of education and experience in one particular field which makes them a valuable (although short term) resource to a company that has people that don't. That's why companies hire consultants. My point is that unless you decide to specialize in a specific area and become very very good at it you will probably never be hired as a consultant.

    One option you should consider is working for an engineering consulting firm that does modeling work. I used to work for one of these companies and they are usually full of people who sit in front of computers all day and just model stuff for other companies.

    BTW, modeling like FEA and CFD work IS a specialized area of engineering. Although CFD is getting to the point now where if you want to be comparatively good at it you have to study it and nothing else.
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