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Messages - m9ro6

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1. College is not trade school or job specific training; it's idealized theory.
2. Value experience and those that have it.
3. If they don't like you, your amazing credentials and analytical skills can be replaced.
4. Software programs and equations are tools, not the answer to every problem.
5. Engineering is 10% problem solving and 90% documentation.
6. Networking matters.
7. Don't overanalyze; learn to approximate and move on.
8. Project management skills get noticed and rewarded.
9. Use your time to think, create, and plan; delegate or program tasks a computer can do.
10. Accept you'll have to compromise to get things done.

Infrastructure / Re: What is the role engineers will have to play?
« on: March 03, 2010, 02:29:48 PM »
Maintaining and prolonging the life of existing assets is important. Here's a video of what engineers at our company do to maintain aging pipelines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdt2-St7l7I&feature=PlayList&p=33A8BD03465A4121&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=9

Another part of the job, which isn't shown and actually done first, is conducting risk assessments. What are the likelihoods and consequences of pipelines failing? What needs to be inspected and in what order?

General Discussions / Re: How much sleep do we really need?
« on: March 03, 2010, 01:52:05 PM »
Same with me: 7 hours and a lots of coffee. I don't think it's adequate, but I catch up on the weekend or go to bed earlier one night during the week.

Educational / Re: Masters in Engineering or MBA?
« on: March 03, 2010, 01:45:53 PM »
I had a few professors that joked if we couldn't cut engineering, we could always transfer to the business school. I know an MBA is "in addition to" the engineering degree, but I can't seem to shake that perception and the feeling it diminishes rather than enhances.

Also, unless you're going to run a company, I can't see how many of the classes are applicable. I work with several engineer-MBAs that never use what they learned and forgot most of it within a year or two of graduating.

If you need a master's that's more business related, there are a number of schools that offer engineering management degrees. They're applicable to an engineering career, typically taught by engineers, and don't cost nearly as much. A cheap option, if you just want to learn, is ASME's engineering management certificate. 

Education / Re: Should I go for a Master's in Structural or General Civil?
« on: February 26, 2010, 09:52:37 AM »
I don’t want to discourage you. If it's a personal goal, I definitely think you should go for it. You have the luxury of free time (and I assume money) to pursue a passion until the economy comes back.

I guess all I'm saying is don’t do it thinking it’s vocational training. Most employers only require a BS and are looking for job specific skills, skills that can't be learned in school. The less time they need to invest in you to get you up to speed the better. This is even more true when dollars are tight. Excellent soft skills can also give you a huge advantage.

And, of course, I don’t know what every employer out there is looking for, and I’ve seen some employers do “prefer” a master’s for some jobs. There’s really no one single equation for landing work. I can only share the one that’s worked for me and seems to have better odds in the marketplace.

It took me several engineering jobs and having been laid off twice - once while working on a master’s – to learn all this. Both times I was laid off I landed my next job through networking and focusing on marketing my experience. They didn’t seem to care I was earning a master’s. My current employer actually hired me over a higher-degree candidate because I had the experience and interviewed better. I've also been on several hiring committees since, and we looked for candidates with experience that could, personality-wise, fit in with the team.

Right now I’m working on getting my PE license. I see on most job descriptions as, at least, a preferred requirement.

General Discussions / Re: Why did you choose engineering?
« on: February 24, 2010, 03:17:36 PM »
I liked math and physics and the idea I could get paid a lot of money to do it everyday.  At least I got the money part right.  ;D

If I could do it over, I would take my liberal arts courses more seriously and maybe enroll in a few more English classes.

Education / Re: Should I go for a Master's in Structural or General Civil?
« on: February 24, 2010, 03:03:15 PM »
Most engineering jobs only require a BS. Besides, formal education is general, not job specific, so how is getting more of it going to help you get a job?

My grandfather was a draftsman that worked his way up to become a professional engineer, and, eventually, ran his own company. If you are ambitious and smart, where you went to school (or didn't) won't stop you.

You say you shouldn't be penalized for going to a mediocre school, but that's just reality. You will be, regardless of whether it's right or not. You can't wish away perceptions or eliminate human nature.

And it's not like those schools' reputations are unwarranted: they get their pick of great students, competition is fierce, and the standards are higher. Consequently, only the best and brightest tend to graduate. That's why employers recruit there.

Educational / Re: Online vs. on-campus learning?
« on: January 28, 2010, 10:03:16 PM »
Learning on campus is a better educational experience. You need to be around your professors and other students. You need to attend group study sessions, office hours, student activities, and labs. Don't cheat yourself of all that - at least for your undergraduate degree.

Educational / Re: Is grad school still necessary for engineers?
« on: January 28, 2010, 09:56:54 PM »
Does an advance degree carry more weight? If you want to be an engineer, you need experience and lots of it. Formal courses are necessary, but they don't make you an engineer. You need to work to learn the art of engineering and acquire job-specific skills. You should also probably get licensed, which requires at least five years experience with other PEs.

Is it a good idea to get an advanced degree? It won't hurt you, but it's not necessary for most engineering jobs. Most of what you need to know is learned on the job, after your BS. I believe there's been some discussion about future PEs being requried to have 30 grad school hours of engineering (might as well get your MS at that point), but I'm not sure if the requirement has been made official yet.

What is the benefit-cost ratio of experience versus more formal education? Look at most engineering job descriptions. Search for engineering jobs requiring an MS. Most employers are looking for experienced engineers with a PE license. You won't make more for the same job by having an MS. Experience is king in engineering.

It absolutely matters! Think about it. How do you perceive someone that went to MIT versus someone that went to the College of the Americas online? The people hiring you make those same judgements. As you gain experience, where you went to school becomes less of a factor in getting hired. But don't fool yourself: your intelligence and capabilities will be judged, right or wrong, through the prism of your alma mater your entire career. Does that mean someone who went to a lower ranked school can't be a better engineer than an MIT grad? No. There's no evidence of that. It just means there's an edge to having a better name brand.

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