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Practical Engineering Skills

  1. Nov 4, 2013 #1
    Hi,

    I'm currently a second year mechanical engineering student. As part of my course, there is an opportunity to go on a year long placement to an engineering company next year. I have to start applying to companies now, so began to brush up my CV. The problem is, I have next to no practical engineering skills. I really want to get a good placement, so feel I should do something about this.
    Is there something interesting but at the same time cheap (I am a student!) that I could do to help this.

    I realise that this is quite a broad question but any advice would be appreciated,

    Thanks
    Dan
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2013 #2
    Maybe if you can get a student job at some company that would help you out a bit :)
     
  4. Nov 5, 2013 #3
    maybe work with local boy scouts to help construct rope bridges and other scout structures...?
     
  5. Nov 5, 2013 #4
    An internship at a company would give you some info on what you should learn. In my experience, programming/coding is something that's always valuable in engineering. There's usually a task there that coding would really streamline.
     
  6. Nov 6, 2013 #5

    Bobbywhy

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    Gold Member

    Every engineer starts out at "zero" experience. In my opinion, going "on a year long placement to an engineering company" is a perfect opportunity to begin gathering that practical experience every engineer uses during her career. You would work with engineers on real problems, you would do real research and studies to help resolve real issues they are working on...what classroom could be better than that? Don't be shy: on day one everyone there knows you are not experienced yet, and they will guide you. This is what's called "on-the-job training". I suggest you volunteer for this opportunity ASAP. After one year you'll be a different person, far more qualified with your real-world experience. And, a more desirable employment candidate.
     
  7. Nov 6, 2013 #6
    +1 to Bobbywhy's comment.
     
  8. Nov 6, 2013 #7
    Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the help.
    100% agree with you Bobbywhy. Will companies not expect me to have some previous practical skills to consider me as candidate for the placement though? Speaking to other people on my course, many of them have some practical skills from repairing cars or building computers or something similar. I've always wanted to do things like that but never had the money or the knowledge previously. I feel other areas of my CV are strong (I've had several part time jobs, previously volunteered, good grades) so was just wondering if there was something related to engineering that I could do to improve the practical areas of my CV and get me a good placement?
    On a side note though, how valued are the other areas of the CV, aside from practical experience? Will those areas get me a good placement without any experience?
     
  9. Nov 6, 2013 #8

    AlephZero

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    A bit of practical experience wouldn't do anybody any harm, but just because somebody has spent some time "reparing cars" etc doesn't necessarily mean they know how to do anything right.

    It depends on the company. If you are working on something "important" they ought to give you a quick course on using hand tools or machine tools correctly, or whatever you need to do - if only as insurance against you suing them if you injure yourself.

    But in a high tech industry even professional engineers might not be allowed to mess with hardware themselves. If you are testing something that costs $100,000, it makes sense to get a properly apprentice-trained technician to build it, not a PhD student who doesn't know how to use a torque wrench properly!
     
  10. Nov 7, 2013 #9
    IMO, a typical second year engineering student has about the same level of technical skills as you said you have: practically none. There are a few that have had internships or have been around the industry doing various tasks for a while so they know something, but in general, second-year students won't have done much in the way of "applicable" work.

    About valuable things on your CV, it really depends on where you go and who is looking at it. You'd be surprised at the crazy things that will get you job placement. I worked at an aerospace company where my boss was really into RC planes. He'd prefer interns and entry-level engineers if they had some RC plane experience over those who didn't even if they had the same qualifications. It's really just a roll of the dice at some point, but don't discount the little things too.
     
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