Do you like your job?

I am half way through my 5 year undergraduate mech eng program. I am at a point where I am not sure I want to push on and complete the
degree (although I don't want to be another statistic that fails to make it through an engineering program). I have had a few coops in manufacturing which I did not enjoy. My question is, if you are a mechanical engineer, what kind of a job do you have, do you enjoy your job, and do you sit at a desk all day? Also, please indicate the country in which you are employed if you feel comfortable doing so. Thanks, Brian in Canada.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Brian) wrote:

Finish the degree. At least finish college.

I've had a couple of jobs I didn't enjoy over the past 20 years. I found better ones.

Medical product development.

Most of the time.

Nope. Sometimes I hang out in the lab and I spend a lot of time working with others. Earlier this week a bunch of us visited a molding facility to watch a new part run. We had lunch at Hooters and we stopped at classic auto restorer's place to check out some neat cars.

US. I've worked in Canada in the past. Montreal. It was fun but I got a bit tired of being typecast. Great city though.
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Brian wrote:

I have the best job in the company, in the best country I've worked in out of three (Australia).
For the last two years I have sat at a desk most of the time, since I run computer models of vehicles, to predict their handling (mostly). The rest of the time I drive cars around test tracks, or on the road, and give them ratings out of ten. This is perhaps less interesting than it sounds, but at least it gives a real perspective to the computer models.
The trick is, figure out what job you want to do in the end, and work towards it.
If you don't like manufacturing, fair enough, try design. My preference is for development, but that's me.
Having said that mechanical engineering is not for everyone, perhaps you would be better fitted for another profession. Since you are going to be doing it for 20-30 years there is no point in persevering at a poorly paid one that you don't enjoy.
Why did you choose to do ME in the first place?
Cheers
Greg
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I'm a project leader for a company that makes anechoic chambers. I'm 24 and it's thefirst job I do. Actually you don't have to be an ME to do this, but have a lot of organisational skills and also have some technical feel. Most of the time I do the communication between the customer and the company in the latest phase of the project. So I have to look at the drawings, organise the construction and furfill the customer his extra wishes during the project.
I sit at a desk about 60% of my time. 20% of the time I run around in the factory to find the people who can give methe necessary informations, or to see that what has been ordered is also performed and 20% of the time I'm at the customer for meetings or to have a look at the contsruction site.
I'm living in Belgium, but most of the work is done in other countries, so the last 20% consist of a lot of travel too.
Not the job I want to do the rest of my live, but it sure gives me at this time a lot of opportunity to develop all kind of different skills.
Timothy
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Many of the guys who dropped out of my engineering program at Clarkson did graduate with a degree in "Industrial Distribution", which we engineers thought was kind of a second- rate major. We were wrong. They've already retired, very wealthy, as Caterpillar dealers and such. I'll be working until I die. Don't go into engineering for the money; it goes elsewhere.
DO graduate. The specialty on the ticket hardly matters, but the ticket itself matters a lot.
These days, I engineer exhaust systems for yachts. My crew figures out how to snake large rigid pipes through a maze of stuff, and then they build the pipes, from scratch. I figure out how big the pipes have to be, and how much water must be injected to keep them cool, and think up new ideas and improve on old ones.
I like the fast pace and the visible results. I went on a sea trial on Tuesday morning, then thought up a fix for a difficult hot spot, specified modifications to the boat and banged out a couple sketches in the afternoon. On Wednesday, I coaxed the job through the shop, set up, ran, and photographed a quickie test, and put the parts in the salesman's hand for personal delivery. That was for just one of a dozen projects I'm working on. We don't usually do stuff overnight like that, but we'll try if you ask nice. Usually, we quote fifteen working days, which is pretty fast for custom pipework, especially considering that we make the actual pipe and elbows ourselves. (The exotic alloys we use are available only in sheet form)
A sea trial, which I do maybe twice a month, is like half a boat ride. We go out and beat the crap out of a thirty million dollar yacht, to be sure that our parts will work right under all conditions, or to figure out why they're not working perfectly. To do that, I stumble around in the engine room, which is incredibly hot and noisy, taking data for an hour or two. Then I go topside and enjoy the ride back to the dock, and start mentally composing my report, or explaining options to the owner or his representative, or talking with the engine guys to figure out what's really happening.
The deskbound part of the job can be fun, too. Textbook problems always give you exactly the data you need. Real world problems don't come nicely packaged like that; we have to work with incomplete and often inaccurate information. Many times, we'll guesstimate something, and the result will not be what we had expected. But the test that tells us we're not where we want to be also gives us at least one new data point, and I can often work with that, and tell the owner, "This is what we'll do to correct the problem, and this is what will happen as a result."
And like any guy who got rich by not trusting anyone's word, he'll put some gages on the system, and we'll do our thing, and the system will behave exactly as I predicted, and the owner will be impressed, and we'll have gained a customer for life, and a lot of very valuable free advertising. It feels like hitting a baseball just so. Not that I was ever any good at baseball, but I'm okay at engineering math.
Before that, I worked a decade in hydraulic systems design and electronic packaging for military products, and two and a half decades in blood cell counters, which contain an extraordinary amount of tiny plumbing. I'm really sort of a high- tech plumber, I guess.
All of that was fun in its own way, too, but I want to make a comment about working on big projects or for big companies: You have to get your job satisfaction internally, e.g., producing a really nice report, or coming up with an elegant solution to a tiny problem. I've worked on projects for upwards of ten years, and seen the result of my work go into the dumpster because of a marketing decision to just not bother selling a perfectly functional, useful product. It takes "fire in the belly" to get over an insult like that.
What have you got "fire in the belly" for?
Mike Halloran Chief Mechanical Engineer (Only Mechanical Engineer) DeAngelo Marine Exhaust, Inc. Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
-and- Sysop, Compuserve Careers Forum www.go.compuserve.com/careers
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Thank you all for answering. You have provided a boost of motivation that courses like thermo and differential equations seem to drain. I just wish there were engineers telling me to go in it for the money, rather than warning me of the opposite. Perhaps my next coop position, which is again going to be in manufacturing, will be more enjoyable. For now though, I will push on, learn the theory, and get my ticket, because I understand a university degree with mechanical engineering written on it is a versatile degree that will take me anywhere. As strange as it may sound, I have even considered pursuing a masters degree in architecture (maybe there is more money there). One funny note on salary; at the last place I worked, the trades people working for the engineers were making more money than the engineers. Brian.
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You'll probably find less $$$ in architecture than mech engineering. Although the satisfaction can be just as great. One way to get more $$$ with an engineering degree is to start your own company or shoot to become CEO (eventually) of a company. There will be a lot of hard work along the way, but you can have a greater payback than the average engineer. There is also a lot more risk involved. Like anything in life, there are no guarantees.
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5 years?
Where do you go to school or which year are you repeating?

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Gung Ho

- University of Waterloo. It is a four year program which takes five years with paid cooperative education between school terms. A great way to pay for tuition.
ms

- I would have never thought that an architect makes less money than an engineer. I guess it all depends on how successful you are. Perhaps an MBA would be a better choice, especially considering I have always desired to be self employed. Another option I am considering is a exchange program with Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. I just need to pull the grades first and... learn French. There are many other English study/work exchanges I could participate in (I love to travel), but Switzerland is just the best place to ski. I know, I should get my priorities in order!
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A very few architects are able to build and maintain practices designing large buildings, and make lots of money. A larger number scratch out a living creating building plans for remodeling, or reviewing those plans.
I think it takes a certain kind of person to get an MBA, or to work in the jobs that an MBA will get you, and I also think that most engineers are not that kind of person. Okay, _I'm_ not that kind of person. There may be many fine people in possession of an MBA; I just haven't met many of them. Oh, I've met a lot of fine people, and I've met a lot of MBAs, but the two sets seem mostly disjoint. Apologies to any fine people who happen to be MBAs and happen to be reading this, both of you.
Your priorities are just fine. Proximity to good skiing is as good a reason as any to pick a school. The extra language will serve you well in this shrinking world. In this case, even in Canada. ;-)
-Mike-
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ah, co-op.
My recommendation is this - get your degree. If you can stand it, get your P.Eng.
From my experience the degree and P.Eng will open doors for you. Co-op work is basically peon work. Don't fret it.
You don't have to take on a job sitting at a desk. If you like hands on, go to a smaller company and wear many hats.
Where you go in a company is up to you. If you don't want to be a "techie" don't get yourself pigeon-holed into a job. Get in there, participate, show off your talents.
The degree let's you jump a few steps ahead of the line. From there it's up to you.
Go for the exchange program - if there's a good opportunity, go for it.

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(remove NS to use the address) 614.937.0463 voice 208.975.1011 fax
http://worthingtonengineering.com
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Don Phillips wrote:

<snip>
My degree BSc (mech eng )was a four year course 1980-84(thin sandwich) 5 years for honours . This was at Dundee (Scotland)college of technology (now Abertay university). Worked for a while at the British gas Engineering Research Center, Killingworth. Newcastle (England) There I spent approx. 70% at a desk (this includes computer time)the rest was running tests or experiments and basically I enjoyed every minute of it . P.S. I don't think anyone would go into engineering for the money or kudos
--
Yours S.
addy not usable (not that you would try it)
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(remove NS to use the address) 614.937.0463 voice 208.975.1011 fax
http://worthingtonengineering.com
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