Author Topic: Describe your engineering job.  (Read 14365 times)

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Offline kc1980

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Describe your engineering job.
« on: June 02, 2010, 11:41:57 pm »
What's a typical day in the office like for you other engineers?  Is there any type of work that you'd like to do but don't get to do?

Here's a description of mine (in no particular order):
1.  Interface with suppliers/vendors. 
2.  Review and approve vendor drawings, specifications and test reports.
3.  Attend numerous meetings to plan and kick-off projects.  Attend even more meetings to coordinate projects.
4.  Occasional failure analysis of electromechanical parts.
5.  Writing all kinds of reports, reports and more reports.  Occasional PowerPoint presentation of report findings.
6.  Analyzing and sorting data using spreadsheet applications.
7.  A bunch of other large-corporation paper-pushing -- i.e. 5/15 reports, updating milestone tracking system, detailed recording of time charges, etc.

Here's what I don't do (at work):
1.  Real hands-on EE design.   :'(
2.  Software programming.   :'(
 

Offline A-sic Enginerd

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2010, 04:42:14 am »
Design, build, and debug some smaller part of a very large chip.
That's it, that's all she wrote.

Oh, and it's all in the digital world so I never have to count higher than 1. It's a really tough day when I have to add or gate a 0 and a 1. That really taxes the grey matter.
The more you learn, the more you realize just how little you really know.

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Offline charliex

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2010, 03:55:10 pm »
coffee, forum, code,
reverse engineer code/algorithms/hardware,
debug other peoples hardware,
persuade large  OEM's they have some serious bugs causing performance issues and thats it not the bandwidth tester at fault and logically yes that there is a point where you're the first person to find a huge problem and not rely on the well no one else has that (no one else tested it),
bypass OEM's, switch OEM's,
source chips,
deal with how bad UPS is,
deal with customers who're worried about shipments because of how bad UPS (shipping) is,
design new hardware because of lack of availability,
order new dev boards,
finish code for old board, even though youve only got enough for 50 or so,
find compiler problems,
rebuild servers that are supposed to arrive ready to run,
start writing new compilers since compiler writers are too slow and "corporate" to fix things in a reasonable amount of time,
meetings with asic guys,
find new engineers to hire that can do some of that,
find more time,
code, forums, try to do some of the personal fun projects, sleep, repeat.

thats a small sampling of a typical day around here, spattered with the odd trip to the race track or dyno shop.

today was fun though, reflowed some pcbs, hand soldered some, reverse engineered the xbox 360 controller, and found out that the at90can128 and at90can64 don't support the same programmers!
« Last Edit: June 06, 2010, 04:42:31 am by charliex »
 

Offline jahonen

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2010, 03:56:46 pm »
What I do mostly is (in no particular order):

- Electronics hardware design (analog, digital, mixed signal stuff, some power electronics), drawing schematics, doing calculations/simulations etc.
- Preparing manufacturing documentation
- Writing prototype test plans
- FPGA/CPLD design (designing, simulating and testing in final hardware) mostly using VHDL (until some customer absolutely insists using Verilog!)
- Support for SW guys (i.e. they come to me and tell me that something does not work)
- Support for assembly houses in case of issues which often come up when first boards are assembled
- Supervising PCB layouts and sometimes I even do them, or some critical parts of it (it sure took me by surprise in beginning to notice that most "pro" layout persons around here usually know very little about electronics, not even mentioning high-speed stuff!)
- Checking/correcting finished layouts
- Prototype testing and troubleshooting (first prototypes of any project are usually quite interesting in this respect)
- EMI/EMC testing and troubleshooting
- Approving/finding second source/alternative components in case original is no longer made
- Customer support when they start using our stuff
- Sometimes writing small test software for microcontrollers
- Maintaining our company component database system for PADS
- Sometimes helping my colleagues in my specialty areas (EMI/EMC, SI and high-speed digital)
- Attending various meetings

Regards,
Janne
 

Offline tecman

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2010, 04:06:29 pm »
Well, besides the typical management crap like meetings, reports, HR stuff, reporting up the chain as to what is going on, I actually have a rather interesting job.  I propose and design control system concepts, circuit design and debug and field support for our stuff.  Now I actually have a number of engineers doing a lot of the grunt work, but I frequently get my hands on doing design details of circuits, PCB etc and guiding those doing detail design and debug.  I never got too far into the software detail.  I can write and read code, but I don't have the patience to do code day-in and day-out.  So I have a great guy who does it.  

I still like and have the opportunity to do detailed circuit design, software concept and design (but not code) and system level concept and design.  I get out several times a month.  Usually to meet with customers.  Sometimes to see, evaluate or debug some equipment problem.  Usually I have an engineer with me to do the grunt work.  

I would like to spend more of my time on design stuff, but the management BS limits my time.

paul
 
 

Offline kc1980

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2010, 06:25:19 pm »
Droool.....I'm jealous!  That sounds like some really fun stuff.  :)

Keep 'em coming.



 

Offline chscholz

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2010, 02:51:07 am »
I travel through the Western US, demonstrate oscilloscopes and compliance tools to customers. I try to help customers solve their test needs.
Of course this includes a fair amount of the customary "paper" work. What I enjoy most is to analyze high-speed signal integrity issues.
Don't trust me I work in marketing!

After a few years with LeCroy and R&S I work for HIOKI USA. If there is anything I can help with, please contact me.
 

Offline tomlut

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2010, 04:07:57 pm »
I worked for a small manufacturing and construction group of companies for 15 years where I:
1) was a communications rigger,
2) 24hr on call technician for a major cellular company and a few other small organisations with RF installations,
3) managed an R&D team (for a while, not really my cup of tea),
4) was an R&D engineer, focussing on circuit design and PCB layout for surge protection, radio terminal units and other custom jobs,
5) wrote product documentation
6) handled customer support,
7) did day to day factory support,
8) had lots of interstate and overseas travel (Asia and Pacific mostly)

I'm currently working in Antarctica as a supervising telecommunications technician where I'm responsible for everything from the satellite WAN to photocopier maintenance.

I hope to alternate for a few more years working in design and travelling back down here as a technician.

I love the variety that a career in electronics can provide. Hardly ever a dull moment but, as Dave point's out in one of his blogs, you can spread yourself too thin. I am by no means an "expert" in any of these areas. However I don't want to be. I'll give two examples:

PCB design: I got by for years designing 2 and 4 layer PCBs with a basic (self taught) understanding of a few IPC standards, voltage clearances, track currents, controlled impedance, EMC, design for manufacturability, etc... When I finally had to do a high speed 6 layer board I had a go, but eventually contracted it out to someone who completed the job far quicker (and more cost effective) than I ever could.

Communications Rigging: I'm a technician with a basic rigger/dogger qualification. I can get most equipment up and down a tower safely, inspect equipment, debug and (in some cases) repair it 30m off the ground. I can not construct or re-tension guyed masts. For that I call in someone with an advanced rigging ticket.

These experts probably do get paid more than me but they do the same thing day in day out and that would drive me mad.

PS: 200km/h winds here today with sandblasting ice crystals. Try putting your head out the car window when (someone else is) driving at 100km/h then realise the increase in wind force is a power law (^3 I think).
No I won't fix your TV for a carton of beer.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2010, 05:39:40 pm »
Well I'm a quality inspector. So much of what i do is keeping records of items received (goods in) and how they past dimensional checks i never take most of the time because i have not the time. Often I find defective items mostly from out of europe and our main Romanian supplier and needless to say british made stuff that fails miserable. I then have to quarantine items, talk to the supplier about the fault, reject the items and send them back or arrange in house reworks and debit the supplier the labour cost, I also have to curse under my breath and then write polite emails to suppliers who tell me there's nothing wrong with the item but as a good will gesture they will replace it anyhow (British take) or when they say "oh well we have always done it like that" (typical overseas supplier reaction).

Occasionally I get to talk to good suppliers who know what they are talking about and only make a mistake once but then they go bust
 

Offline kc1980

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2010, 01:18:13 am »
Wow Tomlut, what an awesome story!  That's some interesting stuff!  I bet much of what you do down there is to support scientific research, correct?

I feel your pain Simon.  I have to deal with incompetent suppliers that have zero configuration control over their products.  They make changes to their design and approve deviations without notifying us.  It beats writing up 20 page trip reports tho.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2010, 06:52:35 am »
Wow Tomlut, what an awesome story!  That's some interesting stuff!  I bet much of what you do down there is to support scientific research, correct?

I feel your pain Simon.  I have to deal with incompetent suppliers that have zero configuration control over their products.  They make changes to their design and approve deviations without notifying us.  It beats writing up 20 page trip reports tho.

hehe well we get to approve changes in fact they hate changes, the thing is they can't get it right in the first place. It was just the other day I received a new charged air cooler core (military project) that has a totally new part number so that we don't confuse it with the previous design as the customer wanted some radical construction changes. what did the Romanian supplier do ? send us the cores made to the old part number, I mean even me with my poor powers of observation and no knowledge of what goes on most of the time in that place as I'm not informed spotted the calamity pretty darn quick.

I wish, i wish Britain would get back to manufacturing again, then there would be some REAL engineering jobs, really my lot are a pumped up load of draftsmen as at the end of the day it is trying to match the customers requirements to the skills and production capacity of the supplier
 

Offline 74HC04

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2010, 12:24:58 pm »
Quote
I wish, i wish Britain would get back to manufacturing again, then there would be some REAL engineering jobs, really my lot are a pumped up load of draftsmen as at the end of the day it is trying to match the customers requirements to the skills and production capacity of the supplier
You're not alone - my poor girlfriend has to hear this rant on an almost daily basis!

Well since I registered on this forum, I've somehow managed to make my hobby a profession again :). I'm truly very grateful for every day!

Work typically includes some or all of the following:

-Meetings, meetings and more meetings - often meetings about meetings!
-Diagnosing production faults - usually due to poor board stuffing, missing components or broken tracks.
-Repairing customer returns.
-Trying not to be afraid of the £70K 'scope ;)
-Building test jigs and having crazy ideas.
-Liaising with the rest of the Engineering team on product design and test.
-Spending every spare second keeping up-to-date with the industry and revising what I already know (lunch breaks included).
-Repeating some of the above at home.
-Eating, sleeping and doing it all over again!
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2010, 01:53:24 pm »
Yes I'm planning on starting up on my own as soon as I'm moved in to my new house. I may not be able to leave the day job but at least I can make some money doing something I enjoy. The problem is that not only do we have no manufacturing but we let overseas suppliers walk all over us with poor quality
 

Offline Rhythmtech

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2010, 05:32:43 pm »
I am a test engineer. My main function is to keep the lab up and going, helping a team of technicians test electric motors for development and application engineers. My days vary in what I get to do.  Usually I repair test systems and update/upgrade them, help people use them, arrange for calibration, write procedures for calibration on custom equipment, evaluate possible new equipment, write ISO documentation to comply with underwriter labs requirements and ISO 17025, and write/update/change test system software when necessary.

In this same job less frequenty I've done a layout or two, made drawings, and the occasional dive into a microcontroller based DAQ development for my own purposes. Most of the DAQ and controls stuff I've done is PC based. 

Post Add -

Average Day:

1. Email, Coffee, Email
2. Answer questions to boss about ongoing projects
3. Go to meeting about the ongoing projects
4. Look at 20 year old VB3 code, then some VB6 code, then write a mock up of a piece of software in VB .Net
5. Get call from lab, figure out why there is a voltage imbalance on the power stats
6. Turn around and the other lab has a problem with the software crashing
7. Check out how electrician has the power meter hooked up on the locked rotor station, so we both have peace of mind that we are either both right or wrong.
8. Talk to the lab manager about life in the lab
9. Post on Forum
10. Catch up on mountains of administrative everything work....
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 05:45:11 pm by Jared »
 

Offline kc1980

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2010, 07:14:36 pm »
Meetings -- where we take minutes and lose hours.  Get it?  Meeting minutes....hahaha.....not really....

For all you non-engineers out there, please feel free to post your day-to-day experiences.
 

Offline charliex

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2010, 11:57:45 pm »
today i sent off some pcb's kitted that i've been making for a while ( at9c0an boards) what a chore, finally got all the parts I needed including an AVR dragon, which is so much nicer to use than the AVR ICE i had been  (which although supports the at90can128 doesn't support the 64/32 chips, wtf?)

now i'm trawling around for an FPGA dev board that'll take HDMI 1900x1200 60FPS video, capture custom encoder and spit it out an ethernet port.
Looking closely at the http://www.xilinx.com/products/devkits/AES-S6IVK-LX150T-G.htm but the spartan 6 might be a bit more expensive per chip than i'm looking at. unfortunately making a PCB at home that'll take hdmi at that bandwidth and a spartan 6 is probably not so doable !

Also sifting through resumes etc looking for hire's, which is the most painful part of the day.

and i'm doing an interview questions for an old amiga game i wrote, funny how those things come back.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 12:13:21 am by charliex »
 

Offline A-sic Enginerd

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2010, 12:29:00 am »
Meetings -- where we take minutes and lose hours.  Get it?  Meeting minutes....hahaha.....not really....

For all you non-engineers out there, please feel free to post your day-to-day experiences.

You know that period at the beginning of the meeting where everyone is there and you're all watching the manager or meeting host go through the gyrations to get their laptop up, get the projector up, call the call in number linked, blah blah blah blah blah and it winds up like a quarter after before the meeting actually starts?

We call that: meeting setup and hold time. ;)
The more you learn, the more you realize just how little you really know.

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Online EEVblog

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2010, 02:20:41 am »
Average Day:

1. Email, Coffee, Email
2. Answer questions to boss about ongoing projects
3. Go to meeting about the ongoing projects
4. Look at 20 year old VB3 code, then some VB6 code, then write a mock up of a piece of software in VB .Net
5. Get call from lab, figure out why there is a voltage imbalance on the power stats
6. Turn around and the other lab has a problem with the software crashing
7. Check out how electrician has the power meter hooked up on the locked rotor station, so we both have peace of mind that we are either both right or wrong.
8. Talk to the lab manager about life in the lab
9. Post on Forum
10. Catch up on mountains of administrative everything work....

That sounds a lot like my old job!, minus the coffee.
Wank-word-bingo was a competitive sport.
And we'd spend hours just sitting around bitching about how crap the company was, when the retrenchments would happen, and if we had a camera setup set up to record every management encounter how we could have made millions on the reality TV show rights...

The new job has no meetings and no paperwork, free food, and a lot of people walk around in bare feet.

Dave.
 

Offline DJPhil

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2010, 05:05:39 am »
. . . free food . . .

This is, by far, my favorite perk at a job. I hate having to stop to eat, but I have real trouble concentrating if I'm starving. The best money an employer ever made off of me was when they kept sandwich materials handy on the night shift. I left more than one half-eaten sandwich after five minutes on lunch to go put some idea into effect before I forgot. It seems that being slightly daft is good way to lose weight, if a bit unhealthy. :D
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2010, 06:52:07 am »
Average Day:

1. Email, Coffee, Email
2. Answer questions to boss about ongoing projects
3. Go to meeting about the ongoing projects
4. Look at 20 year old VB3 code, then some VB6 code, then write a mock up of a piece of software in VB .Net
5. Get call from lab, figure out why there is a voltage imbalance on the power stats
6. Turn around and the other lab has a problem with the software crashing
7. Check out how electrician has the power meter hooked up on the locked rotor station, so we both have peace of mind that we are either both right or wrong.
8. Talk to the lab manager about life in the lab
9. Post on Forum
10. Catch up on mountains of administrative everything work....

That sounds a lot like my old job!, minus the coffee.
Wank-word-bingo was a competitive sport.
And we'd spend hours just sitting around bitching about how crap the company was, when the retrenchments would happen, and if we had a camera setup set up to record every management encounter how we could have made millions on the reality TV show rights...

The new job has no meetings and no paperwork, free food, and a lot of people walk around in bare feet.

Dave.

hm maybe i should consider emigrating  :o well there's one thing that's certain: when our Engineering bunch/technical department tell me they are snowed under and have not the time to correct that drawing that's been wrong for years or don't have time to digitalize that old paper drawing which is the last copy we have and is falling apart I think of them as a lazy bunch of wankers, what we do do we get horribly wrong so what do they do up there ? nothing ?
 

Offline charliex

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2010, 06:56:44 am »
Free food is great, but ain't a perk ;)
 

Offline Rhythmtech

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2010, 03:29:59 pm »
Average Day:

1. Email, Coffee, Email
2. Answer questions to boss about ongoing projects
3. Go to meeting about the ongoing projects
4. Look at 20 year old VB3 code, then some VB6 code, then write a mock up of a piece of software in VB .Net
5. Get call from lab, figure out why there is a voltage imbalance on the power stats
6. Turn around and the other lab has a problem with the software crashing
7. Check out how electrician has the power meter hooked up on the locked rotor station, so we both have peace of mind that we are either both right or wrong.
8. Talk to the lab manager about life in the lab
9. Post on Forum
10. Catch up on mountains of administrative everything work....

That sounds a lot like my old job!, minus the coffee.
Wank-word-bingo was a competitive sport.
And we'd spend hours just sitting around bitching about how crap the company was, when the retrenchments would happen, and if we had a camera setup set up to record every management encounter how we could have made millions on the reality TV show rights...

The new job has no meetings and no paperwork, free food, and a lot of people walk around in bare feet.

Dave.

hm maybe i should consider emigrating  :o well there's one thing that's certain: when our Engineering bunch/technical department tell me they are snowed under and have not the time to correct that drawing that's been wrong for years or don't have time to digitalize that old paper drawing which is the last copy we have and is falling apart I think of them as a lazy bunch of wankers, what we do do we get horribly wrong so what do they do up there ? nothing ?

You, my mother, and my fiancee would have a ball figuring that out.  I have attempted in all manner of ways to explain the bottomless pit that design, experimentation, research, and improvement that permeates my work, life, and car. In my particular role, I often stand alone with no technical support staff while attempting to update and redesign mid 80's and early 90's test systems, maintain the late 90's early 2000's equipment, and trying to come up with ideas for brand new equipment from scratch when new needs arise.  It is admittedly difficult to quantify thinking and producing ideas, especially when it is broken up with maintenance and support work.  I often struggle with a sense of anti-accomplishment because at the end of many of my days I have to be happy having ended up where I started because I can't predict when equipment will break, when the boss will reprioritize my time, or which algorithm I thought I had ironed out produces complete crap. 

Edit Add:  Aside from that, every half completed non working project in the pipes was handed to me shrouded in a fresh wrapper of insincere excitement.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 04:51:16 pm by Rhythmtech »
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Describe your engineering job.
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2010, 04:11:00 pm »
no in my case they do not a lot but have meetings so that everyone that works in the same room can keep up to date, I'm the nobody that had to stomp up their and tell them about back emf while they tried to figure out what to tell the customer
 


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