Author Topic: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?  (Read 2717 times)

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Offline eecook

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I was offered a position in Silicon Valley (I'm from South America) as a "Field Application Engineer" for a start-up that does micro-inverters. I have been doing design for the past 3 years and I am interested in the technical aspect of engineering. I am considering the oportunity since it will take me to Silicon Valley, but I have serious concerns as to how that position is going to improve my technical skills, let alone my design skills.
Any thoughts by the more experienced members?
Nullius in verba
 

Offline BobsURuncle

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2016, 09:45:53 pm »
Yes.

It will likely broaden your technical knowledge, but at the cost of depth.  It will improve your communication and people skills and give you a greater understanding of the business and more exposure to people outside of your dept.  Your days will be more varied in focus and you will be travelling more.   If your total experience is 3 years in design then getting more experience in other areas can't but help broaden your career horizons.   But, assuming you have the people and communication skills, it is easier to move from Design to Applications than it is from Applications to Design, particularly from Field Applications work which usually means more face time with customers than a home based Applications job which has more emphasis on the technical side.  It is relatively easy to move to Marketing or Sales Engineer from Field Engineer, but extremely difficult to do that from Design.   An Applications Engineer is the interface between his company's Design Dept and the Customers Design - and probably Production and Quality as well.  You need to have knowledge of the product you sell and the products that it will go into. You may well be helping to define the features/specifications of your companies new products and trying to convince and help customers to make design modification to fit the products you already have.

These titles have somewhat different meanings depending on the company and what it sells, so what I said above is generic.  But I speak from experience - having worked in Design and Development, Applications and Marketing.

You already know what design is like, so it all depends on what you want to do now and what are your long term goals.




 
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 10:04:55 pm by BobsURuncle »
 

Offline os40la

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2016, 10:00:53 pm »
Do you think this could be just a company that installs solar panels and you most likely will be an installer installing panels on roofs using Enphase micro inverters.  In the US companies like to use fancy job titles for average job descriptions. like domestic engineer = house wife.  Be careful what you will really be doing.  :D
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Online tggzzz

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2016, 10:10:45 pm »
The other comments are sensible.

What did you ask during interview, and what were the answers?
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline station240

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2016, 12:17:17 am »
Things are getting unstable in the Solar industry as a result of this:
https://morningconsult.com/opinions/sunedison-bankruptcy-three-times-bigger-solyndra/

Perhaps it's good for this start-up company that offered you a job, perhaps it's bad.

The basic question you need to find out, is do they design micro inverters, or simply install them ?
Given the huge costs to certify electrical equipment, I'd suspect the later.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2016, 12:31:28 am »
Field application engineers to me are advanced users of the software. My opinion is you will learn little to nothing about design. And i just watched that at a couple Keysight seminars i attended, they were ran by field application engeneers. When i asked design questions they had no clue. The seminars were still good, but only in the user, not designer space.
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2016, 12:47:58 am »
What you learn in a job is frequently more dependent on the person than on the job.  The real question is how long will it be before you have learned all you care to learn in this field (and all of its related technologies)?
 

Offline eecook

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2016, 04:49:38 am »
The other comments are sensible.

What did you ask during interview, and what were the answers?

I asked a number of things. The most important:
1. Walk me through a day in the job (when I'm not traveling): Check telemetry data from systems installed worldwide, perform root cause analysis if a failure is detected, replicate in the lab what's installed on the field, create/mantain documentation, etc...
2. Is it possible to move to the design team at some point? They say it is common that their field applications engineers do that, in fact their current on is doing just that, hence the job opening. But, I have to do at least 2 years at the field applications position.
3. Will I gain any technical knowledge? Yes, the first 6 months will consist on technical training.
...
Now they want me to do a power point presentation on power electronics.....

« Last Edit: May 12, 2016, 04:59:43 am by eecook »
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Offline eecook

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2016, 04:52:50 am »
Do you think this could be just a company that installs solar panels and you most likely will be an installer installing panels on roofs using Enphase micro inverters.  In the US companies like to use fancy job titles for average job descriptions. like domestic engineer = house wife.  Be careful what you will really be doing.  :D
They design micro-inverters and SoCs and sell IP.
Nullius in verba
 

Offline eecook

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2016, 04:53:57 am »
Field application engineers to me are advanced users of the software. My opinion is you will learn little to nothing about design. And i just watched that at a couple Keysight seminars i attended, they were ran by field application engeneers. When i asked design questions they had no clue. The seminars were still good, but only in the user, not designer space.
Well...it seems I'll be the only one who knows design then...  8)
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Offline eecook

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2016, 04:56:31 am »
What you learn in a job is frequently more dependent on the person than on the job.  The real question is how long will it be before you have learned all you care to learn in this field (and all of its related technologies)?

Yea...very valid point, however, I am a well-rounded person and will not dedicate all my time to electronics. When I get outta work I rather go surfing, that's why when I'm at work I rather do design...and BOOM, I do the 2 things I like the most.
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Offline eecook

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2016, 11:12:19 pm »
Done...I rejected it, back to square one
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Offline sarepairman2

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Re: Will I learn anything technical as "Field Application Engineer"?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2016, 03:30:14 pm »
this all depends on how understaffed your company is and how isolated the departments are/how much management pigeon holes people.

In some companies you can get hired as a janitor and learn RF prototyping. In other companies you will be deadlocked.

You need to actually work in a place and interact with employees to find out, much like infiltrating a crime syndicate. Asking will just give you responses that will please management, because no one trusts you at first, and they think any real advice that might be "taking a walk on the other side" will hurt them job wise.

However this all requires you to be present in the company where the majority of employees are. If you are only occasionally in the campus/office then it will be hard. You will need to talk to people and propose improvements or demand meetings with people to get "more information", in these meetings you can show interest and hope they enjoy interacting with your enough to further meetings.

This may involve spycraft, lying, barging into peoples offices and doing other distasteful things.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 03:34:47 pm by sarepairman2 »
 


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