Engineering is one of the most important industries that ensure the development of any country's economics. At the end of 19th century, there appeared a new area called electrical engineering. It grew quickly, becoming more and more important for building, design, and maintenance of electrical control systems, equipment, and machinery. That is my field of study, which I chose for several reasons. First of all, this area is extremely broad and offers a lot of opportunities. I will learn a lot during my studies and will get a range of special knowledge and skills. In the future, when I choose some specific area in electrical engineering, I will have enough background to cope with any challenge. The second reason is perfect computer skills, which electrical engineers get. This field is developing every day, and my computer skills, which I gain during my studies, will provide me with great career opportunities. In my investigation I expect to find out the career path of my interviewee, the possibilities for his career development, as well as the skills, qualifications, and responsibilities of mechanical engineers. Also, I would deal with the possible challenges that may spring up in this job, the types of jobs that mechanical engineers can target, and the typical written communication genres for this profession.
CAREER PATH IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
The subject of my interview is a quality manager from Silicon Valley. It is his first job after graduating from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Firstly, he started as a quality assurance analyst, then became a senior quality engineer, and at last – a quality manager. He had all these advances in his career within the last three years.
During this time, the interviewee experienced lots of challenges, the major of which was a complicated situation in the job market in his field, and in engineering specifically. The period after the financial crisis in 2008-2009 was very difficult for most people in the USA. The unemployment rate was critical, and the manufactory in the USA was not developing. Eventually, all these things mixed together and made it tough to get a job. After 2010, the situation started to become better, and now his company’s structure has become higher. The unemployment rate began to decrease, and now a lot of people can get hired more easily, so the respondent believes that the situation now is much better than in the previous years.
The interviewee specified the expected salary for a beginner in mechanical engineering across the country and compared the average earnings three years ago and today. Back in these days, the average salary across the country for a mechanical engineer college graduate was about $50,000-55,000, for masters it was between $60,000-70,000, and for Ph.D. that was between $80,000-100,000. Hence, now the workers can expect at least 5-10 % more. In Silicon Valley, one can get at least 10-20% more above average for mechanical engineering or any other hardware engineering. That is all only for the entry level employees.
HOW TO ADVANCE IN ENGINEERING
The career development, specifically in Silicon Valley, depends on how good the employee is, whether he or she wants to go further, what kind of ideas he or she has. The interviewee explained that he can take more in a manufacturing department and become a manager for manufacturing in the future. Also, he can be a project manager, as he is taking care of large projects. Perfect knowledge of a lot of things, such as the functions of work, and the proper skills, can lead to a promotion.
A person can be an authority if he or she is enough precise, detailed, and has the knowledge and background in this job. The respondent mentioned that the situation in his career is the same as in other engineer careers. Those who want to work higher will have higher responsibilities and do much more than they are required to. Whenever the person moves up, he or she takes something new and always meets new people. When one works with different projects in different areas, he or she has to prove the capability of doing these things, and even more than it is expected. It is the main task, otherwise the manager would not wish to take higher responsibilities.
SKILLS, QUALIFICATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ENGINEER
When speaking about the skills and qualifications required for mechanical engineering or engineering in general, the respondent mentioned that, first of all, it is necessary to have a good technical background. The worker must be able to solve problems, to learn on his own, and to apply the knowledge he acquired at school. Secondly, he named communication skills, as engineers nowadays collaborate with different departments of the company, and their job requires much manufacturing work with the sales and the customers. Thus, one of the most important skills that an engineer must have nowadays is a skill to interact with different kinds of people and to understand their needs, in order to make sure that he or she makes the product better.
The interviewee informed us that he is a quality manager, but he does a lot more things than that. So, the main aspects of this job are the product quality, the final products, and the customers. There should not be any quality problems, as they are making a high-quality product. He must take personal inspection for the whole process, starting from receiving the raw material from vendors to making it into robots. Thus, he is responsible for the quality aspect of these products. Also, he is responsible for the delivery of new customer orders. Namely, he makes sure that a delivery is made in time, that it has the right shape and was properly testified. Besides that, he takes care of the customer service and checks all their plans and prompts. These are some of his daily obligations, and another important function of his job is to track and manage different kinds of problems that occur with a product. He develops solutions and uses them to make sure that they will do a good job in time. So, those are the largest areas for his quality-related job functions. That relates to mechanical engineering, but that has more to do with the product development, the process of its manufacturing, and anything that happens between production and engineering. He is in charge of the project, and when a customer requires some new features, he works with engineering to make sure it can assure satisfaction of the customer’s requirements. He looks for new ideas, makes sure that they work fine, and implements them in the production. So, that is another part of his job, as he must know how to make robots, how to make the things efficient, how to make technicians work smarter and with higher productivity.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN THE JOB
Regarding the challenges, the respondent mentioned that he has a lot of tasks every day, which prove to be rather challenging. Although, there are the most critical ones, as everything in his department is moving forward, and that is one of the largest challenges. Also, the company has to deal with ten different quality issues, and supposedly, engineer should work on fixing the drawbacks, do some preventive actions, or find solutions. However, nowadays, the engineering is limited, as they can work only on two issues at the same time. As far as they have ten of them, he has to do something on his own to find the appropriate solutions. That is challenging, but it is a part of his job, and that helps him to make products better and increase the quality.
TYPES OF JOBS FOR A MECHANICAL ENGINEER
In general, mechanical engineers target a wide range of manufacturing companies. They can apply themselves in different departments, like R&D, they can also design things, do research and development testing, as well as support the production. If there are some technical problems, the mechanical engineer can solve them. It is the general kind of mechanical engineering roles, which is different from Silicon Valley, because their employees do a lot of different things. The mechanical engineers, like the respondent, work not only in the traditional sense of mechanical engineering. Also, they are responsible for quality and many engineer-related projects, which are connected with the field of mechanical engineering. So, in Silicon Valley, the job is something different from the one in a real industry of mechanical engineering. Besides that, in Silicon Valley, there are great opportunities for the young talented engineers as they have fresh knowledge, innovative ideas, and can successfully bring them into life.
There are particular genres of written conversations in a mechanical engineering profession. They influence the way engineers express their thoughts and ideas. Perfect reading and writing skills are as important as the profound knowledge of the mechanical engineering. If you want to work semi-independently or if you want to supervise other people, the ability to communicate is critical
The interviewee’s daily responsibilities include different types of reading and writing tasks. Among them are numerous reports and emails. So, in the process of writing, he chooses the audience, which can be co-workers, clients, or general public. It determines the format of arranging the text. Eventually, the way in which professionals converse to each other differs from the way they converse with other people outside the company. For mechanical engineers, the way of communicating is different from the others, because they have a technical knowledge, and express their ideas in a more structured way. Engineers tend to be very specific, and they have a special structure of messages, conveying three main points in their writing. They write three different paragraphs, starting from the main idea, instead of a long paragraph, that is one of the key differences, which is suitable for their needs. It is necessary to write in this way, because everything must be precise in engineering. Otherwise, it can lead to miscommunication. If engineers want to convey some ideas, their conversations have to be very structured, in order to get to the point from the very first sentence. That can seem boring for people from other fields, but this is the most concise way to express ideas for the engineers. On the other hand, when they talk to customers, who usually don’t have any technical background, it is easier to communicate in a more casual way instead of a very structured one. That is the main difference. However, when talking to the salespeople and telling them the technical details, they may not understand the message. So, we have to find the way to give them information in the way they can understand.
The profession of electrical engineer has a lot of peculiarities and differs from other fields of industry. First of all, I was happy to find out that, due to economic growth, the unemployment rate is decreasing, and more job opportunities for mechanical engineers open in our country and in Silicon Valley specifically. Also, I was pleasantly surprised with the possible salary, as it satisfied my expectations. I must admit that it is a good incentive to do my best in the studies, as far as the development of my future career depends much on persistence, preciseness, and perfect knowledge in the area. Indeed, the actual job may require having not only the qualification but also many other skills, like being able to solve problems, to improve personal knowledge, and to communicate efficiently. I believe that it is necessary to work on my communication skills, as I have discovered that the range of mechanic engineer’s obligations is very wide, and these skills are highly important. Also, engineers are very specific in written conversations, they use a lot of terms and structure the paragraphs in their writings well. It speaks about their self-concordance and reflects their professional skills.