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Engineering Some questions about an engineering job

  1. Mar 12, 2016 #1
    Hey guys :)

    I've been hanging around here for years now, and the time has come for me to enter higher education. So I thought I would come and bug you with my questions (the never ending questions ... ) :D

    I'm currently in my last year of highschool in France, and I will be entering my first year of classes préparatoires ( 2 general years of sciences and engineering classes destined to prepare you for the entrance exams for the grandes écoles, where a significant portion of people wanting to do engineering or science go).

    I'm currently taking engineering classes, and some topics are interesting, and some just aren't. I really like my science and math classes as well, and I want to do something related to these fields.

    But when I read about what an engineering job is like, it seems to involve a bit of technical work, and a lot of bureaucracy and meetings etc. And even the technical part is sometimes described as just being "following the procedures".

    I'm very easily bored, I wouldn't last very long doing the same thing every day. I like a challenge, and the thing I love most is solving puzzles. The nature of the puzzle itself doesn't really matter, it's the process and the satisfaction of finding a solution that I enjoy.

    I also do some programming in my own time, and I like the process of writing some code, testing it to see if it does what I want it to, modifying the code, testing it again etc. until it works.

    I'm aware that pretty much any job in this field would probably require meetings and things like that, which I don't mind at all. I just don't want to spend most of my day pushing papers around.

    Are there any engineering jobs that have a significant technical aspect to them ? Ones where I would be solving problems, meeting up with people to discuss the progress that has been made, and moving on to more problem solving ? Maybe in R&D or a smaller company ?
    Should I be considering a different field altogether ?

    Thanks for your time and any answers you can provide :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2016 #2
    The problem with engineering is that you're generally not the person who will use the thing you engineer. Someone else uses it. What seems simple to you is complex to others. The art of engineering is to design something intuitive and straightforward to use, that will operate with reasonable efficiency and economy.

    That goal is not nearly as technical as it might first seem. Your technical prowess is a small part of that solution. It's not the same thing every day. I've been doing this for 30 years and believe me, it is not the same job it was last year, or even last week.

    I suggest you get some internship experience in the real world before making any decisions.
  4. Mar 12, 2016 #3
    There are lots of kinds of puzzles in the world. Usually, not everyone finds the same puzzles interesting, and sometimes, you might even be surprised at what kind of puzzles you will find interesting once you try them. Currently, I solve puzzles involving pharmaceutical regulation around the world. I never would have guessed I would end up here, but engineering made it possible.
  5. Mar 12, 2016 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Jobs that are stimulating and fun from a technical perspective aren't all that common, though there are some. However, the paperwork/bureaucracy part starts of thin and only grows as you progress in your career -- and it can be avoided, but most people eventually choose not to.
  6. Mar 13, 2016 #5
    Thanks for the reply guys :)

    It makes sense that user experience is an important consideration when designing something, I hadn't really thought of it from that perspective.
    I will definitely try to get some experience, although engineers are increasingly hard to find in the middle of nowhere. All engineering courses have compulsory work experience anyway, but it would probably help me make a decision if I could get some sooner.

    Could you elaborate on what you mean by "puzzles involving pharmaceutical regulation" ? Sounds like it could be quite interesting.
    The French system allows for very progressive specialisation, so I have time to figure out what kind of puzzles I find interesting.

    I guess paperwork can't be avoided, especially not in France I would think (the country of bureaucracy ^^). Who knows, I may find I don't particularly mind it.
  7. Mar 14, 2016 #6
    Sure. I am currently doing regulatory/compliance work for combination products, meaning medical devices with an ancillary medical substance. This is a new and emerging area of regulation world-wide, so one of the most interesting parts of my job is trying to understand how we can comply with the rules in all the different markets around the world. The rules are similar, mostly, in different places, so you have to pay attention to what is the same and what is different. I do this from a technical point of view, since I am an engineer, by producing technical reports and rationales that demonstrate compliance with objective evidence. The point is to gain entry to as many markets as feasible for a given product.
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