By Brian Frascella Was the day you purchased your first calculator memorable? Have you ever used a typewriter? Have you ever seen a slide rule? If you answered “No”, then please read on.
I’m no Mensa. But, I consider myself intelligent. I made decent grades; I communicate relatively well and hold my own in Trivial Pursuit. I thought I had it licked until I started my current position as a mechanical engineer at Moog.
My first day at Moog felt like I had been air-dropped into the Amazon. Ninety percent of the tasks asked of me couldn’t be found in any classroom or textbook. No formula could save me. I thought “What did I learn in college?”
Once the panic subsided, it hit me. Sure, I had learned engineering principles in school, but the greatest thing I had absorbed was how to learn, and be resourceful when solving difficult problems.
For example, after my first team meeting, I was assigned to write a report on a component I had never seen before. Rather than follow the drawings and read the manuals, I asked my colleagues for their description on the component. Someone told me, “You are new, of course you don’t know how it works.” On that advice I put my ego in my back pocket, asked more questions of my colleagues and was soon adopted into the team. Often times, new employees will shy away from asking questions as they are afraid of being perceived as incapable. I realized I could learn more from the team, while making connections in the process.
As a young engineer new to my job, building relationships was the best move I ever made. What do you think is the best first step to take in your new career?
Brian Frascella graduated from Binghamton University with a BSME; he’s en route to receiving his MBA from the University at Buffalo in 2011. Despite entering engineering school with the hopes of someday designing skis, his interests later steered him toward the realm of control electronics. Brian has worked with the Moog Industrial Group in East Aurora, N.Y., in its Electric Flight Simulation product line since 2007 as a Product Engineer. Brian will be posting to Careers and Education in Engineering periodically.