We're expected to cover a wide variety of fields for a given project, including mechanical power transmission, electrical circuit protection, servo driven motion control, hydraulics, pneumatics, magnetics, lubrication, optics, and chemical compatibility. That's a pretty diverse list. The term "engineer" is used as a catchall, but it doesn't convey the broad list of tasks and fields we must cover to solve that problem.
What are we, then? We're the multi-talented, multi-skilled tool used to solve problems -- society's Swiss Army knife.
Oh, there may be some tasks needing a larger blade than that found on a Swiss Army knife. Some of us are highly specialized. Some focus on one or two aspects of the problem to be solved. One way or the other, we're going to cut right to the heart of the problem.
Even though National Engineers Week has passed, get the word out -- tell people what sort of knife you are.
I teach an introduction to engineering seminar to grade 6 students and I tell them that engineers are "the ones who take science and make it affordable". The sample is a pencil that has 8 pieces and with parts costs, assembly, shipping, handling, etc., it sells for less than 10 cents - AND - the store selling it and everyone in between made a profit! That's engineering.
Ozark Sage: I was not aware that engineering schools were pushing the idea of 6-7 year graduate degrees. Imagine the cost associated with that, especially given the fact that many public schools are now over $20,000 a year, and private colleges are twice that.
Alexander I do whole heartedly agree. You hit the nail on the head. What you said about periferals is also true, but I wonder if every engineer has to be proficient on computers A to Z. It seems to me a well trained engineer has/ must have good visualization skills in his head befor he/she even aproches a computer lest the client becomes misdirrected or pre-design infected, prior to advanced design selection. Some times a rough sketch can save hundreds of hours of time & MONEY while working out what the client REALLY WANTS.
The other problem I have is with the CONSTANT need for "Certification" especially when the software is continuously managed by capable engineering company IT people and the company PEs regularly attend IT seminars and their specialty organizations' meetings most of which stay abreast of software advances.
PS A closing comment on Systems Engineers. Should they have a 6/7 year course and graduate Doctorate? A question asked by UT Dallas, U of P, and many other high ranked schools. $$$
I like the definition with the following additions: A negotiator with government regulators. Here in Washington State permitting agencies for civil works control most of the design standards and practices such that I question the validity of stamping engineering plans, specifications and studies. For example, in most cases storm drain analysis and design are completed using manditory computer models developed and provided by local agencies. However, the private design engineer must stamp the hydrologic (Technical Information) report. I question whether the engineer can attest to anything other than using the agencies black box model and therefore should not be expected to accept liability for design. Some agencies use non-engineers as reviewers and the State Licensing Board allows them to use 'engineer' in their position title which in effect is shows a lack of respect for professional engineers. Therefore, the engineer needs to be a negotiator to get through the review and approval process in Washington State.
The second addition to the definition is that engineers are creative but as noted above, creative engineering is not readily tolerated in Washington State.
Your statement regarding knowing how to find the information you don't know is at the core of good engineering. First, however, you need to be able to recognize what you don't know. The most durable part of my engineering education was learning that there are lots of things I don't know, but I was forced to acquire the skills to find out where the information I need is [many years pre-Google] and continue learning. Unfortunately, the newest graduates I interview from engineering schools indicate that this critical part of their education seems to have been dropped from their cirriculum.
Generally, I would see an engineer as someone that can solve problems with a clear plan and can explain how they solved it. I have known some people that have graduated with engineering degrees, but due to their lack of ability to use that learned knowledge to solve real world world problems, I would not call these people engineers.
Iterative design — the cycle of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product — existed long before additive manufacturing, but it has never been as efficient and approachable as it is today with 3D printing.
People usually think of a time constant as the time it takes a first order system to change 63% of the way to the steady state value in response to a step change in the input -- it’s basically a measure of the responsiveness of the system. This is true, but in reality, time constants are often not constant. They can change just like system gains change as the environment or the geometry of the system changes.
At its core, sound is a relatively simple natural phenomenon caused by pressure pulsations or vibrations propagating through various mediums in the world around us. Studies have shown that the complete absence of sound can drive a person insane, causing them to experience hallucinations. Likewise, loud and overwhelming sound can have the same effect. This especially holds true in manufacturing and plant environments where loud noises are the norm.
The tech industry is no stranger to crowdsourcing funding for new projects, and the team at element14 are no strangers to crowdsourcing ideas for new projects through its design competitions. But what about crowdsourcing new components?
It has been common wisdom of late that anything you needed to manufacture could be made more cost-effectively on foreign shores. Following World War II, the label “Made in Japan” was as ubiquitous as is the “Made in China” version today and often had very similar -- not always positive -- connotations. Along the way, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Pacific-rim nations have each had their turn at being the preferred low-cost alternative to manufacturing here in the US.
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