Work should be fun, not drudgery. You should wake up every day feeling like you're going to play, not going to work. And all the better if you can use your engineering skills and experience to actually do some good-to advance technology to the next level and improve quality of life for others. A great sense of satisfaction can come from that.
Jobs that give that kind of satisfaction exist. On the following pages, we've profiled a few engineers who love what they do and think they have the coolest job in the world.
Perhaps you think you have the coolest jobs too. Tell us about it and we'll share your experiences with others.
Name: Mike Coughlan.
Title: Technical director.
Company: Arrows Grand Prix, Leafield, Oxfordshire, UK.
Business: Formula One motor racing.
Engineering degree: Honors degree in mechanical engineering, 1985, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK.
Responsibilities: Technical direction of Team Arrows
Tools used: CATIA, MSC.Nastran, MSC.Patran, Fluent, several other design and analysis software packages, a wind tunnel, and a multitude of rigs (for testing stiffness, hydraulics, electronics, etc.).
Engineering principles used: Aerodynamic efficiency, which equals lift over drag; efficiency of strength to weight; efficiency of stiffness to weight.
Typical work day: Works every weekend. Includes travel to all the Grand Prix races (every other weekend), with time at the test track in between. Weekdays are usually 8:30am to 10 pm, Saturdays 9:30am to 5pm, and Sundays 10am to 2 pm.
Advice: Be practical.
Quote: "It's very easy to design structures and shapes that are impossible to make. So you need to know what's practical. In F1 as in all racing, you have limited resources, either in money or in time. And F1 is all about efficiency. Efficiency of aerodynamics, efficiency of stiffness, efficiency of weight. You're looking for the maximum return in lap time for money spent. I've always wanted to do this type of work. I see myself as very lucky to be in this job. It's hard work, but I miss it when I go on holiday. When I left university I had a plan, I knew what I wanted to do, and all my choices moved forward to what I do today. I suppose in the real world there are only 20 people who do what I do-I'm not saying only 20 are capable of it, but there just aren't many opportunities. When I began, you didn't have to have a degree to do high-level motor racing design, but I think it's essential today. Once you're in, you have to work hard because there are many people who would like to do it and are willing to work as hard as you."
Name: James F. Antaki.
Title: Director of Artificial Heart Research.
Company: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dept. of Surgery, Pittsburgh, PA.
Business: Transfer of technology between academia and the clinical environment.
Engineering degree: BS, mechanical engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Ph.D. mechanical engineering, University of Pittsburgh.
Responsibilities: Direct basic and applied research towards improving the safety and effectiveness of mechanical circulatory support. Develop improved