This is work in progress: a book to enable novice engineers to learn the elements of effective engineering practice. It is a shorter and more accessible version of material presented in “The Making of an Expert Engineer”. To assess how well your own notions on engineering practice line up with research results in a minute or so, try this quiz. You may be surprised with the results, in which case these explanations may help.
This material is presented to obtain your feedback and suggestions before it is published.
Stage 1: Preparation
Introduction and Preface: Learning Engineering Practice
Explains the need for this book and how it can best be used
An essential introduction to engineering as it is practiced today
How engineers create value for their firms, clients and society
How engineers can create value within the firm or enterprise: a case study
How to find paid employment – a road-tested guide for students and graduates
Essential for understanding the following four chapters
The most fundamental communication skill – rarely if ever taught.
Builds on techniques used by expert engineering firms
Builds on chapter 7, preparation for what is to come, opens a discussion on emotions.
Assess your visual skills. If they need improving, follow these exercises.
Stage 2: The first weeks
The chapters in this section reference the guide for early career learning.
How to access information, building a professional network.
Explains the kinds of knowledge that enable engineers to be effective and how to acquire this knowledge in the workplace.
Chapter 12: Engineering knowledge is a social network
Builds on the previous chapter to explain how access to engineering knowledge is gained through social networks.
Chapter 13: Making things happen
Introduces skills needed for informal leadership, coordinating technical work by other people, something that takes 25-35% of nearly all engineers’ time.
Chapter 14: Engineering projects – making big things happen
Introduces the stages in engineering projects and how much of the work is often invisible coordination work requiring formal procedures.
Chapter 15: Learning to work safely
Explains important aspects of workplace safety for novice engineers, particularly the responsibility for the safety of other people.
Chapter 16: Managing expectations
A brief chapter on creating appropriate expectations and providing results that exceed them, helping to build one’s reputation.
Chapter 17: Influencing other people
Introduces strategies for engineers to help other people understand and adopt their ideas and suggestions more easily.
Chapter 18: Selling ideas
Introduces ideas from marketing that can help other people provide money and resources to enable an engineer to make a difference.
Chapter 19: Management or technical?
A brief chapter that explains how choosing between a management or technical career is often determined by circumstances beyond one’s control, and why both options require similar skills.
Lots more chapters will follow
Somewhere near the end of the book….
Chapter 49: Everyday frustrations
Explains why misplaced expectations and influences from education can lead to workplace frustrations and shows how to work around several common engineering frustrations.