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What's the step by step way to an engineering career, and guidelines to follow in everyday life?

What's the step by step way to an engineering career, and guidelines to follow in everyday life

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Sheila’s Answer

Thanks for the great question!

In high school, I was very good at math and science, and I remember it being recommended that I go into engineering. I really did not know much about engineering, and at the time it was not a typical field for a girl to enter into. There was a “Women in Engineering” week-long summer program offered at a university in our State. It was for high school girls who wanted to learn more about engineering and science-based careers. So, I signed up for the program. I found that there were many different types of engineering and many types of roles which you could do as an engineer. I was inspired and went the engineering route.

There is a vast landscape of roles and companies looking for engineers. In high school, a good foundation for engineering is math and science classes. Then, you would need to go to college for 4 years for a degree in engineering. You can take classes (mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc.) and identify the specialty area which you like – you don’t need to lock in your focus on day one.

I am a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineering is a fantastic foundation for many roles. I had the opportunity to work in the automotive and defense industries. Initially, I leveraged my skills in the thermal area where I worked on requirements creation, vehicle development/validation testing (including testing at our proving grounds and out in Death Valley), building analytical models, and designing/releasing HVAC/Powertrain Cooling related systems. Next, I had the opportunity to work as a Vehicle Systems Integration engineer for Propulsion systems which included early vehicle concept, development, and production activities. After this, I shifted to system safety role which included software, controls, and physical part safety. Most recently, I led a team for the Advanced System Integration of defense/military vehicles and projects. The mechanical engineering foundation enabled me to have a wide variety of career experiences.

There are many types of engineering – Chemical, Mechanical, Electrical, Systems, Software, Industrial, Manufacturing and more. For mechanical engineering, there are also many sub-focus areas, so you can pick the area(s) that you find the most interesting. Some examples include: Thermal systems/fluids, Mechanical Structures, Materials, and Automotive design.

Best wishes to you as you explore your future career.
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Patrick’s Answer

Israel, let's talk about the thrilling adventure that is an engineering career. It's a journey that needs your commitment, grit, and a well-thought-out game plan. I've gathered some information to help you map out your path to becoming an engineer, as well as some handy tips to thrive in this field every day:

* Engineering is a vast world with a spectrum of disciplines like civil, mechanical, electrical, computer, and aerospace engineering, to name a few. Kick things off by exploring these different areas to see which one matches your interests, abilities, and career dreams.

* Aim to get a bachelor's degree in engineering from a recognized institution. Select a program that gives you a strong base in math, science, and engineering principles that are relevant to your chosen discipline. Be ready to hit the books and shine in your academic work.

* Look for chances to gain real-world experience through internships, co-op programs, or research projects. This hands-on experience is priceless for honing technical skills, understanding the industry, and growing a professional network. Stay on your toes in finding internships or research opportunities that align with your field of interest.

* Depending on your career vision, you might decide to go for higher education like a master's degree or Ph.D. in engineering. These advanced degrees can deepen your expertise, open doors to specialized roles or research positions, and boost your income prospects in the long run.

* Depending on your engineering discipline and career ambitions, you might opt for professional licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE). This usually involves clearing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, gathering relevant work experience, and passing the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Licensure can boost your reputation, broaden your career options, and empower you to take on leadership roles in the engineering field.

Tips for Thriving in Everyday Life as an Engineer:

* Engineering is a fast-paced field that demands staying in the loop with new technologies, industry movements, and best practices. Pledge to lifelong learning by attending workshops, seminars, and conferences, going after certifications, and doing self-study to boost your skills and knowledge.

* Polish your communication skills, both spoken and written, as effective communication is key for teaming up with colleagues, sharing ideas, and explaining technical details to non-technical folks. Practice making complex ideas easy to understand.

* Engineering projects often need multidisciplinary teams to crack tough problems. Grow your teamwork and collaboration skills by taking part in group projects, seeking a variety of viewpoints, and respecting your colleagues' expertise.

* Engineering calls for creative problem-solving and innovative thinking to devise solutions that tackle real-world issues. Nurture your creativity by welcoming experimentation, thinking differently, and exploring fresh ideas and ways to solve problems.

* Stand by ethical standards and integrity in your work by putting safety, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility first. Stick to professional codes of behavior and ethical guidelines set by engineering organizations like the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) or the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

By following these steps and tips, you can set sail on a successful engineering career and make a real difference to society through your work. Remember to stay focused, flexible, and resilient when faced with challenges, and never stop aiming for the stars in your quest for engineering excellence.
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