Author Topic: The Skills of a Pro  (Read 5909 times)

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Offline ondoTopic starter

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The Skills of a Pro
« on: September 29, 2015, 11:56:18 am »
Hi there, I'm currently reading "So good they can't ignore you" by Cal Newport, and that make me thing about the skills of a good engineer.

We have a lot of posts and stuff about the skills you need to have for a hobbist level, but not much about the skills that make one stand out in EE, and I thought it was something interesting to talk about.

I've been working for 5 years now in the field, and I don't have much of a clear answer. In fact, most senior I've worked with don't show much of a skill in the field. What's your take?

EDIT: Reposted in General, I tried to delete with no luck :P
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 11:58:44 am by ondo »

Offline zapta

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2015, 04:03:44 pm »
... most senior I've worked with don't show much of a skill in the field.

Or possibly you overlook some very important skills, like people skills.

Offline bson

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2015, 10:28:52 pm »
Or possibly you overlook some very important skills, like people skills.
Or making hard problems look easy with obvious, understandable solutions.

Edit: and, by corollary, break huge problems into smaller more easily verified pieces that have minimal complexity between them.  It's the hallmark of the junior engineer to come up with something immensely complicated with huge numbers of variables, knobs, controls, adjustments; stuff that's untestable and fragile, that solves all possible problems whether real or imagined, yet is effectively not reusable.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2015, 10:37:30 pm by bson »

Offline ECEdesign

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2015, 02:02:12 am »
Sounds like an interesting thread as a student!

Offline tggzzz

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2015, 07:41:32 am »
Get in touch with your national engineering organisation, e.g. IET or IEEE.
Locate your local branch.
Find a mentor, go to local meetings and chat with other engineers.
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 Rerouter

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2015, 09:19:19 am »
The very best 2 skills any technical person of any job needs is

A. The ability to accurately convey ideas and concepts to people with different or no technical ability, without getting frustrated as well, if you start thinking why are these people so dumb, that fault lies with you not conveying the idea clearly enough that there can be no doubt they have understood, this can include drawing diagrams, writing up pricing lists, or making models, this helps you as well, as when you do not understand something you can try similar concepts from what they understand until they make clear what they mean,

B. Be willing to learn, no sane person expects you to know everything on the first day, week or even year, but you should be willing to write down and go read up on what subjects have been raised that you dont understand, and be willing to admit when you do not understand something, e.g. this year i had to get a PCB mass produced, assembled and tested, The 2 last parts i had never done before, but i was willing to admit this, went and figured out a plan, chose based on what assembler i held more trust in based on what i had found, and posed the plan to the office and it went ahead after 5 minutes, because I had explained my assumptions, and laid it out,

Offline dmills

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2015, 11:22:44 pm »
One other thing that the senior guy probably has: Task domain knowledge!

A so-so engineer who knows the industry the product is being sold into really well is actually far more valuable most of the time then someone who knows more engineering but has no knowledge of the industry the employers products sell into, apart from anything else the first guy has far less need of requirements documents specifying every stupid little thing.

I would second the ability to explain to non specialists (A technical writing course is useful here), and knowing how to decompose problems into simple easily tested blocks is a must have skill (Particularly given that most things have a substantial software element these days, and software design is all about that).

On the subject of software, an acceptance that no matter how good you think you are you will write buggy code, and an understanding that you really want to solve the problem in as few lines as is consistent with simplicity to minimise the absolute number of bugs.

Also things like DFM, DFT, the regulatory regime in which you operate, mechanical drafting (and tolerances!), estimating (Well worth studying some of the methodologies here)......

Regards, Dan.

Offline merc_test_eng

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2015, 09:07:46 pm »
Programing - (Labview, Python, C ) as in be able to write a usable, professional application that can be used in a production or R&D environment.
PLC's - (RRL programing ) be able to design/ build simple factory automation.
Microcontroller's - hardware and software, I used to do a lot of discreet logic circuit design but its all been replaced with micros.
Communications -  ethernet, GPIB, serial, etc.

I work as a Test Engineer in a production environment, the Statistics I learned in collage have turned out to be surprisingly useful, but the basic programing  was just not extensive enough. Today you can't be a competent test engineer without significant programing skills.


Offline John_ITIC

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2015, 09:11:54 pm »
My experience is that, at least in large companies, senior engineers have long forgotten how to be good engineers but they have become excellent politicians. They are experts in finding someone else that can do the work for them; in other words they are now managers. There are few senior engineers that stay hands-on, which is the main reason I'm a consultant.
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Offline merc_test_eng

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2015, 03:24:59 pm »
If you are smart enough to be an Engineer you are smart enough to teach yourself to work outside your field. I my case I learn everything I can about Industrial engineering, IT, Controls engineering, and also assist the  maintenance department troubleshooting production equipment, convincing the people you work with that you can do anything engineering related and being willing to work outside your lane has kept me employed when times were tough and peers with more formal education and experience were laid off. It should apply to getting hired, at a time when companies are trying to do more with less.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2015, 04:48:18 pm by merc_test_eng »

Offline steve207a

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Re: The Skills of a Pro
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2015, 12:34:14 pm »
Hi Ive been repairing making things for over 40 years all i have credential wise is 1 years city and guilds tech... I hated school and didnt like college was not good at maths either so stopped going after 1 year ive had jobs as tv engineer, automotive electronics repair, warehouse control sytems, agv robots, computer and colour printer repair and now run a one man electronic repair business deealing with control systems Ive come across many a qualified person who lacks the hands on real life situations experiance that my years have given me ....nearly all i know ive taught or learned from books or by just doing it the keen attitude and willingness  and enthusiasm to get the job done the buzz from fixing something thats broken
regretably nowadays with cost its often sadly easier to buy a cheap replacement
I still remember my first pair of walky talkies i made back in the 70,s the thrill of making something that worked  is never forgotten sadly now you can buy a multi channel 2 radio set for under £20... but   they are not the same as my old 1 channel sets i will always cherrish
there are still a few like me out there but we are like the dinosours heading for extinction
remember there is no such thing as an expert only someone who thinks he is
everyday is a day to learn something new ...never forget that


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