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Engineering Mechanical engineer but experience only in startups

  1. Oct 11, 2016 #1
    I am a mechanical engineer who has worked only in start-ups, for past 3 years.
    Main experience is Mechanical design CAD with bit of FEA.

    Problem is I want to move to a more traditional company. I had had an interview with one of the largest oil and gas company for role of design engineer in safety valves. Sadly I couldn't relate to their requirements of product lifecycle GD&T FMEA etc.

    How do I fill these gaps. Thought of doing courses but cumulatively can't afford all courses. There are free links for GD&T though.

    Are there other skills I need to have. CAD experience is more hands-on but I feel I m not doing it the way most professionals do. I keep learning new functions everyday. Is there a way to learn or relearn above skills in more structured way, similar to how a graduate would have learned in top companies with graduate jobs and training.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2018
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2016 #2


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    For what it is worth, the following are my thoughts regarding your inquiry, I hope they help.

    With regard to GD&T and FMEA I recommend that you try using available publications and self educating on these two subjects while still continuing in your current employment. One thing to keep in mind is that even with focused and accelerated training courses the best thing that comes out of them in the end is knowing enough to know where to look for solutions and knowing generally how to apply them. No one ever remembers all of the details.

    If you are primarily interested in mechanical design, I would recommend initially focusing on developing a solid knowledge and becoming more proficient in GD&T because that is going to be universally important across the board.

    As for FMEA, I would lean more toward learning the basic process and being able to intelligently discuss it because the degree to which you are going to have to be proficient in that field for entry positions is going to vary from company to company; and, the detailed procedure to by which that process is performed also is variable from one organization to another. During my employment with one company we were successively trained in that subject three times and each time it was in "the latest new and better" method.

    As for your CAD skills, the fact that you are now using that technology and continually discovering new procedures means that you are already learning. Finding new procedures is not unique because many are very application specific. If you want to accelerate your learning the most economical way to do that is to obtain a good reference book and first scan through to just make yourself aware of all of the application options that are available and then go back and take a second look at those closest related to your current applications and are potentially a better alternative method you are using now (don't worry about trying to become immediately proficient in them). For all of the rest, you will have given yourself a mental table of contents and, so that when you encounter something new you will know where to look for solutions. Another fact to keep in mind is that there are multiple CAD systems being used by companies so understanding and experience in the basics can be more important than being highly proficient in one product. You don't want your next job selection to be controlled purely based upon the fact that you are proficient on their CAD system.

    As for other skills, your engineering education should have given you the basics for most of those. Becoming proficient is what happens while practicing the art.
    In my 45 years of engineering and product design the best part was that almost every day presented new challenges to address and problems to learn how to solve, that is what engineering is all about; and, if you ever find yourself in a position where that is not happening, that is called stagnation, and that is the time to make a change.
  4. Oct 17, 2016 #3
    Thank you so much for your detailed reply. Your reply is exactly what has been missing for my career. I forgot to mention that I have never worked under someone experienced.
    I feel I m working like a machine, not being able even to think properly but just churn out results.

    Wouldn't working under the guidance of someone experienced be better for the learning curve
    Hence the need to move to a more traditional company.

    Touch would I dont have to worry about stagnation, keep engineering new stuff on every project.
    On GD&T can you suggest something practical, theory textbooks often don't make sense. Similarly for FMEA , a good practical report would be much better than theory I guess.
    Other things I would love to learn are Design for manufacturing and assembly, understanding all manufacturing processes,knowing when to use what etc
    Agajn thank you so much for your detailed reply. Would love to know more about your 45 years of engineering
  5. Oct 17, 2016 #4


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    It is hard to know where to start to address your above questions so I would like to get a sense of where you are in your engineering experience at point and also start to address the issue of GD&T. In that respect I would like for you to give me a brief summary that outlines the type of engineering you are currently performing, including the balance of actual design calculations vs drafting; and, tell me if you are currently using any level of geometric dimensioning or if this process completely new to you..
  6. Jan 1, 2018 #5
    Hi JBA,

    Firstly I am sorry for never having replied to you.
    It has been a year and I have taken a completely different career path in FEA (Finite Element Analysis). GD&T is no longer important for my current job but would still like to know about it as a personal goal.

    Thank you for taking the time to offer your valuable advice. I was difficult position back then and just forgot to reply.
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