New university student in aerospace engineering program

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Integral

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IS,
You keep talking about training, engineers are not trained, they are not pet dogs who perform tricks on command. Engineers are educated, while working towards an engineering degree you will be taught some fundamental topics that are then built on in later courses. You must then use your intelligence to apply your education to specific real world problems. If you really wish to become and engineer you must first learn the difference between training and education. If you go to a university looking to be trained for some specific job you will be sorely disappointed. Perhaps you really want to be a jet engine mechanic or a technician of some sort, often they can be more trained then educated.
 

enigma

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Integral said:
Perhaps you really want to be a jet engine mechanic or a technician of some sort, often they can be more trained then educated.
I'm sure Integral knows this, but I'll say it anyway. There is nothing wrong with working as a mechanic or technician. They are highly skilled people and can make a very good living. They simply draw on a different set of skills.

InfernoSun said:
Please discuss the differences between drafter, designer and engineer.
A drafter takes marked up plans and specifications and puts them into the computer. They are not trained to make any sort of decisions and make few, if any calculations.

Engineers are payed to do analysis on designs, optimize the design for mass, cost, durability, etc., and basically ensure that everything will work as it is supposed to. They are the ones who do the final sign-off on plans and are the ones responsible if something goes wrong.
 
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Integral

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I'm sure Integral knows this, but I'll say it anyway. There is nothing wrong with working as a mechanic or technician. They are highly skilled people and can make a very good living. They simply draw on a different set of skills.
LOL! I guess I know this. My job title is Repair and Maintenance Technician. I have the qualifcations to get an engineering job. Much of the work I do should be done by an engineer. The difference is pay... My wife will not allow me to take the pay cut necessary to become an engineer.
 

FredGarvin

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A lot of people have problems with something like what Integral just mentioned. Me, personally, I don't. I have absolutely no problems with technicians or technically "non-engineers" or whatever the label, making more money than me. I have learned a TON of good information from the technicians and machinists around me. There is absolutely no way I could do my job at my level wothout their help, input and teachings.

Here's where I have seen the different job titles fall in line in my experience:

1) Engineer: Establishes main design concepts, analizes and makes sure the overall scheme of the product is acceptable. The engineer is also one of the main quality and technical checks in the process.

2) Designer: Specifies the nuts and bolts of the design. The designer is responsible for ensuring that the design is buildable and can be as easily machined as possible. The designer and engineer work very closely with each other.

3) Draftsman: Takes preliminary prints from the designer and engineer and puts it on paper in the appropriate format. Draftsmen are usually doing the repetative grunt work that requires skill, but doesn't require any analysis or specification of parts, etc...

Now a days, I think you'll be a bit hard pressed to see things operating like that now. I, for example, am an engineer who is his own designer and draftsman. It is definitely becoming more of the norm. I think the role of draftsman is pretty much gone and taken up by the designer and engineer.
 

russ_watters

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A little story to illustrate the differences that may be helpful...

My boss quit his first drafting job after his boss yelled at him for pestering the enineers with questions about engineering. His boss told him he should be content as a drafter, but that's something you can become good at in a matter of months and master in a couple of years - it isn't intellectually challenging. So my boss found an environment where he had more freedom to learn and grow and soon he was a designer, doing pretty much the same work as an engineer, but without the theoretical background of an engineer. Eventually, he got good enough at that that he found himself to be the de facto head of the engineering dept at his company, much to the chagrin of the actual engineers. So he studied (independently - he never went to college), learned the theoretical part, and passed his P.E. exam, making him a full-fledged engineer.
 

russ_watters

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FredGarvin said:
Now a days, I think you'll be a bit hard pressed to see things operating like that now. I, for example, am an engineer who is his own designer and draftsman. It is definitely becoming more of the norm. I think the role of draftsman is pretty much gone and taken up by the designer and engineer.
People are no longer content to do the same intellectually vacant job for 40 years. When my boss got yelled at by his boss, the guy pointed out people in the drafting room who had been doing the job for decades.

So the way he runs his business is by recruiting young, bright people straight out of high school. They learn drafting and if they have the aptitude, start designing. A junior-to-mid level designer is about the most profitable person you can have on staff. Since drafting isn't as time consuming as it used to be, some engineers will do it themselves. But while I know a lot of engineers who do the design work themselves, they want to be billing and getting paid at $100+ an hour while a designer can bill at $65 while being paid $20. And at the same time, some engineers I know are really just working as overpaid designers. That's why my next degree will be in business - if I get to the point where I can have my own little business, I'd spend probably only 25% of my time doing actual engineering/design/drafting.
 
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Dear InfernoSun & rocketboy:

Personally, I consider your questions valid, but then I am not blessed with fixed focus. Fundamentally, DuncanM's question, "What gets you excited?", was very valid. To be truly successful in your career, and I'm measuring that from the way you will look back on it, you have to not only be willing, but be completely and fully committed to problem solving. As they say, you must be willing to eat, live, and sleep with problem solving.

It is true that most accountants work in the accounting departments, doing some aspect of accounting, very similar to the human resource types. My experience is probably far different than the others chiming in, for I was graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from a major US university. Prior to that I had attended an Aircraft and Engine (A&E) Mechanic's school and worked as an aircraft electrician and technical writer. Upon graduation, I obtained a job with a major space engineering firm, not a bird farm, Hughes Aircraft Company. I worked on testing, mechanical and electronic, spacecraft instrumentation, and the first gyrostat. I took additional evening courses in engineering subjects, such as stress analysis, machine language programming, and researched in the library the latest progress in the fields of tribology, a subject with which engineers were totally ignorant. I became involved in ball bearing technology and the mathematics related thereto. Because I lived, breathed, and slept what I was working on, I was able to readily identify the source of problems when they occurred and mathematically prove my point if needed.

During my career, I have worked in electromechanical design and test, control system engineering, testing of various and asundry control system components, testing of completely integrated spacecraft (in and out of a thermo-vacuum chamber). At one point, I instigated the surreptitious integration of personal computers into a testing laboratory so as to automate the testing process. I was involved in the performance testing of the first Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers and ended up developing a large experience with GPS.

Due to my interests in performing Fourier Analysis on the noise produced by operating rolling element bearings, primarily ball, when Wavelets emerged, I dived into studying the subject. Admittedly, the mathematics did give me many problems, but I continued to pursue the subject.

Based upon my experience, to be anywhere successful, you must be fully committed, body and soul. Like any profession, you are at the whims of economic conditions, et al. Whatever you decide to do, you should try to obtain as much of a mathematics background as you can.

Unfortunately, life's crystal ball is too fractured to read, you will never really know what area of engineering that you will have to adapt to, but a strong mathematics background coupled with a broad understanding of fundamental physical principles will provide you with an ability to bring yourself up to speed, independent of the situation.

Best of Luck
JoeO
 

FredGarvin

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russ_watters said:
People are no longer content to do the same intellectually vacant job for 40 years. When my boss got yelled at by his boss, the guy pointed out people in the drafting room who had been doing the job for decades.
I'm not sure you can break it down quite that plainly. I work with plenty of people who are in their comfort zone. Their job doesn't challenge them. They do, basically, the same things year after year and they like it. That is exactly what they want. As a matter of fact, our company is going through changes and people are being asked to do different things. The reception to that notion was not a welcome one. I will grant you that the average age at my company is probably a lot higher than most, so it may be old dog / new tricks phenom at work. In my business, a designer has to have the same, if not more experience than engineers. The designers and engineers, on a lot of components, are working so closely that you almost really can't tell who is who anymore. I honestly think that as products become more and more technologically advanced, we'll see a shift to this blending of roles.

russ_watters said:
That's why my next degree will be in business
Ahhhh! Tell me it's not true! Not another one. Lured in by the charms of the MBA.
 

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