Career advice please.....

Good Day Group,
I'm currently in my second year of a Beng honours degree in mechanical design. I have about 10 years industrial experience as a marine / subsea
engineer working offshore mixed in with a few years onshore as a mechanical fitter on pharmaceutical / petrochem and automotive plants.
The uni seem very keen for everyone to do a work placement next year and I'm not sure if there would be much advantage in it for me. Would my work experience be considered relevant as I've never worked in an office based environment having spent all my time wielding a hammer and spanner?.
My other concern is that the course isn't accredited, I didn't have enough points for the accredited courses but thats the ImechE's loss as far as I'm concerned. How will this effect me after graduation, I've noticed a lot of graduate vacancies where an accredited course is a stipulation - would a wealth of practical experience get me past this?
Oh and going by last years marks I should be on for a good 2.1 and may possibly scrape a first assuming I can keep up with the rigmarole of tests, labs and assignments....
Cheers, subtub
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Dear subtub:

spanner?.
The purpose in getting your degree was what? The question should be "Will I be happy sitting behind a desk?".

You might look at interning in ship design firms. Or perhaps talking to the HR departments, to get their take on your question. It might be a welcome change for them.
David A. Smith
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (formerly) wrote:

Firstly to get away from manual work, I don't want to be crawling around in main engine crankcases with oil dripping down the back of my neck when I'm 60 years old. There's the danger aspect also - a guy I worked with a few years ago was killed in a pressure vessel explosion, something I fully intend not to happen to me. Not many people are killed while sitting behind a desk.
Secondly I've worked on a lot of machinery that has clearly been designed by some sort of deranged lunatic and I think I can do better.
The question should be "Will

I'm just going to have to suck it and see - nothing much lost if I'm not I can always wipe the dust off the tool box and return to my previous ways.

Sounds like a plan, thanks for your input

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I could be that deranged lunatic. I've been working at a desk for a few decades, trying to anticipate and prevent all the problems that someone like you would face in the field, without having spent a lot of time on the front lines myself. My short response to criticism of my designs is "Where were _you_ when the paper was blank?".
Now, with 60 years of decrepitude less than a year away, I crawl, okay stumble, around in engine rooms a few days a month. Okay, they're mostly yachts, so the bilges are clean, and I work on exhaust pipes, not engines.
Anyway, most students benefit from an internship by finding out what an engineer actually does for a living. At least that's what they think they find out.
In companies large enough to have engineering interns, the interns, having just been trained on the newest stuff, get to work on the cool problems. The experienced engineers get to shuffle paper, same as always. The awful truth, that we never tell the interns, is that 99+ pct of what goes through an engineering office isn't rocket science, and doesn't require much brainpower to process. It takes an engineering degree to _detect_ the small fraction of work that actually _does_ require engineering, and would be fun for an engineer to do, and to deflect it to the appropriate channel ... the interns. Sigh.
As a long time wrench- toter, your fantasies about what goes on in an engineering office are probably different from those of the typical intern, but no less inaccurate.
You'll probably be less bothered by the dreary work than by the office politics. Do take the work placement; you'll benefit from it, probably not in any way you could predict. Try to find a place with an onsite R&D lab, so you can muck about with the machinery, and beat on some metal when the people get to you.
-Mike-
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Mike Halloran wrote:

Take it easy there Mike, I wasn't criticising anything you designed in particular. The kind of thing I'm talking about is for example French engine manufacturers Pielstick whos exhaust manifold system is an absolute abortion. The *only* way to tighten up the lower pipe flange bolts is to fuse a welding rod to the nut to prevent it from turning and lovingly create a "banana" spanner, the best ones of which afford you a 16th of a revolution of the bolt at a time. It's this type of lunacy that would be second nature for some one like me to avoid.

Ah, you don't work for Pielstick do you Mike ?

The main problem for me doing a placement year is going to be a financial one, they typically don't pay much - about 12k/PA here in the UK. Point taken though regarding a placement being beneficial - I think a good compromise would be for me to try and get some work experience next summer.
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No, I don't work for Pielstick. Since you asked...
<shameless plug> I'm the Chief Mechanical Engineer for DeAngelo Marine Exhaust in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
We make custom and OEM exhaust systems for yachts and superyachts and boats that work for a living, of stainless steel and more exotic alloys.
http://www.deangelomarine.com
Within our industry, we are the go-to guys for the really tough problems that no one else can solve.
</plug>
I can hear you thinking, "How hard could that be? It's just a tin shop." I thought that too, before I started. Boatbuilders, to be as polite as I can about it, haven't yet grokked concepts like interchangeable parts, or planning.
My crew makes sure the pipes fit. My job is to make sure they're big enough, but not so big that money is wasted on extra unobtainium, and to invent new products and improve the old ones.
-Mike-
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Mike Halloran wrote:

Seems like interesting work to me Mike....
<blatant hint> and as I was saying I think a good compromise would be for me to try and get some work experience next summer ! </hint>
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Some days it's just _too_ interesting.
In college, you can be confident that, except for malicious professors, the data supplied with a problem is all the data you will need to solve the problem, and that it's accurate. Out here In Real Life, you rarely have all the data you need, some of the data you do have is guaranteed to be inaccurate, and you don't know which part of it is wrong.
Unfortunately, we're not large enough to do justice to interns. Did I forget to mention that I'm the Only Mechanical Engineer? And we're not hiring right now, unless you can weld and can prove it.
But by next summer, we might well be doing better. Send a resume or at least a note to us at: 3330 SW 2nd Avenue Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315 USA
-Mike-
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My welding is decidedly ropey on anything more challenging than half inch mild steel plate I'm afraid. Thanks for your input though all the same
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Maybe there is a shop at the school in which you could improve your welding in time to get a summer job Just a thought. The school I went to (BYU) had a great undergrad machine shop and all ME's were required to demonstrate the ability to make simply machined items without removing the limbs of either themselves or fellow students. It came as quite a shock to me when I visited U of Colorado Boulder and came to find out that they had NO machines that were accessible to any but paid staff professional machinists. No charge number, no parts. At BYU we hada guy building a 50 caliber long distance target shooting rifle for gunessakes. If the school has a shop, hang out there and bootstrap yourself into the job.

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