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What is your job like?

  1. Oct 17, 2013 #1
    I have spent the first five years of my career as a mechanical engineer working for a relatively large engineering company. The company gives me quite a bit of personal freedom, including flex time and generous amounts of vacation. The pay is relatively good and I'm treated well by my peers and superiors.

    The problem is that when it comes to the work I was hired to do, corporate policy leaves very little room for innovation and creative problem solving. Engineers are treated as though they can't be trusted with computers, which means that we're left to work in a completely locked down environment. If I want to have Python installed on my corporate machine, which has zero administrative rights, it takes weeks of explaining to the IT department why this tool is needed. If I want to install a third party Python library like scipy or matplatlib, forget it, we're told we don't need it. The problems we work on are highly technical, and tools like this have an enormous potential to improve our efficiency and quality, but because of fears about security, we're never able to improve our methods.

    This environment has become extremely frustrating for me to work in, and I'm curious what other people's experiences are in the corporate world. Am I a fool to complain about something so petty when everything else about my job is quite nice?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2013 #2

    UltrafastPED

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    I remember when I worked in an environment like that - I brought in my own computer on the side, with stuff setup the way I like. One of my coworkers reloaded his computer from scratch .... and became his own administrator.

    But the "correct" way to handle this is to setup an "efficiency committee", you and your friends, with support from your supervisor. Then prepare a report on what is required, and get some sign-off on it.

    Once your area manager approves your report things will start happening. Good luck!
     
  4. Oct 17, 2013 #3

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    I agree with Ultrafast -- try to build some support for adding more productivity tools.

    At my work (EE R&D lab for a medium-size high-tech embedded systems company), the IT folks are strict about not letting you bring your own laptop in from home and plugging it into the corporate network (unless they get to install all of their anti-virus stuff on it first). But beyond that, you are pretty free to download and use free software like Python, Tcl/Tk, etc., and to make your case for purchasing simulation and other productivity-enhancing software tools. The chips we design require lots of tools support, including scripting languages.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2013 #4

    turbo

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    Remember that thumb drives can be destructive and/or a means to rip off proprietary materials. Some businesses are quite leery of permitting outside resources for that reason. Good luck.
     
  6. Oct 17, 2013 #5
    This is a common problem and it is not new. It is a battle that you see in almost every corporate environment.

    The problem is that IT has responsibilities to keep everyone free of malware and viruses. So they aim for the lowest common denominator because they can't evaluate the abilities of each and every employee. You want to install Python and sling some code. That's good, but the IT department doesn't like people outside their cadre doing things like that. They don't know you. So they squelch such efforts because they don't know how else to establish lines of responsibility.

    Again, this is the reality of corporate life. The lines of responsibility are what are actually at fault here. It has nothing to do with your competence or the trust your immediate managers may have in you.

    UltrafastPED has the right idea. We actually did that more than 20 years ago to establish what later became our company's "Process Controls Group." Our group purchases all sorts of computing hardware outside of our IT department's review or influence. We do this by taking full responsibility for every aspect of the computer systems management. We established a DMZ between us and the office. We have explicit protocols and well defined data formats that we have agreed to pass to our IT department.

    We have a free hand to buy and do what we need, but in doing that, we have set some informal policies even within our tight little group on who manages what.

    There are many routine details that an IT department does that you will have to take over if you decide to take an approach like this. There is much more to this than just keeping your computer properly patched.
     
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