QUESTIONS, APPENDIX & CONVERSATION

Frequently Asked Questions

Why engineer? Why do we do engineering?

How can engineers regain respect?

How can I find an engineering job?

How can I influence significant decisions?

What can experienced engineers get from this book?

What is the best way to learn to be an expert engineer from this book?

What is the “landscape of practice”?

Why am I stuck in a job with so littl real engineering?

Why did I write this book?

Why is engineering invisible?

Why is it so hard to change engineering education?

Why is this book expensive?

What is the value contributed by engineering? (to come)

How can engineers help eliminate poverty?

What is the value to an Australian engineer of chartered professional status? (to come)

More questions?  Please feel free to ask them below!

 

Appendix Online

Appendices to supplement the book are available at this location.  They are also available as a Zip download from the publisher’s page for the book.

Conversations

In some parts of the book, readers are invited to contribute their comments.  You can do so by leaving a reply below, or by responding to one of the questions above: there is a comments section on each page.


10 comments

  1. Hello Mr. Trevelyan I hope I’m not bothering you but I have a doubt with the table 2.1 “Engineering disciplines and the main disciplines from which they originate” I would like to know the meaning of the terminology; I mean the asteriks, the little lines and the spaces. and one last question you mention in your book this “By recognising that there are as many, if not more, similarities as differences between engineering disciplines, and also learning these common engineering practice skills, you will have far more opportunities in a wide range of industries.”

    Do you mean that there are more similarities than differences in engineering?

    Thank you very much for your reply

    Like

    • Thank you for asking. The hyphens indicate a weak connection with a parent discipline. The asterisks indicate a strong connection. The answer to your question is yes: our research provide strong evidence that most of the daily work of engineers concerns technical collaboration: achieving a specified technical outcome relying on the efforts of two or more people. The patterns of this work are remarkably similar across all engineering disciplines. Obviously, some knowledge of the underlying technical issues is essential. The degree of knowledge required depends on how close one is operating to the limits of what is technically feasible. Much of the time, someone with a working knowledge of another discipline can effectively coordinate technical work outside his or her discipline. Often this is absolutely necessary. That is why it is so easy for engineers to migrate from one discipline to another and this helps to explain why there are so many engineering disciplines that have emerged. University courses generally only provide an education in one of the foundation disciplines but engineers migrate to other disciplines with great ease. I hope that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for answering Professor. One last doubt, I am studying Mechanical Engineering and I liked that there are so many disciplines related to Mechanical Engineering, but i was considering making a change of career; in my school you can only do it once, but as I saw your table 2.1 now I don’t know what to do, should I choose Electrical engineering or Electronics engineering? I see that there are more options for electrical engineers so, If I study Electrical would I be able to enter the electronics field with just my Electrical Engineering degree? and One last thing my professor of electricity and magnetism a Mechanical Engineer, told me once that it would be easier for a mechanical engineer to do the things an electrical engineer does because he works with energies, but for an electrical engineer it wouldn’t be easy to do the job of a mechanical engineer is this true? I’m still not sure I like a lot of things in Mechanics like kinematics, air conditioning, refrigeration, aeronautics, design, the physics involve but, electronics it’s also very exciting, telecommunications, chips,, radars, signalling. Anyways I’m still considering, i hope to make the right decision. Thanks Prof. Trevelyan.

    Like

    • Dear Enrique
      Read Chapter 13 about engineering in low income countries (well, Mexico is not like Pakistan or India, but some things are a little like they are in those countries). That will show you that you can excel as an engineer in your own country, and do much better than going to the USA or Canada. You just need to learn to be an expert engineer….. not all at once, however.
      James T

      Like

  3. What are your thoughts regarding interdisciplinary engineering, in particular mechatronics? Perhaps some sort of comparison between generalist and specialist approach in the education, which vital weak points (where the focus needs be) that can be foreseen when learning the broad subject. -from Indonesia.

    Like

    • Hi Yasmine, thank you for asking. I think there are two sides to your question. The first side is about mechatronics and other engineering disciplines that require you to work across conventional engineering discipline boundaries, the standard mechanical, electrical, chemical, civil engineering boundaries. We had a mechatronic engineering program here at the University of Western Australia along with around 15 other specialised multidisciplinary engineering degrees. We found that the company is employing our graduates were really keen that students had studied at least something at an advanced level. We have a masters degree program and students graduate with a masters degree before they qualify to be professional engineers. We found it was really difficult to build a course program that had sufficient foundations for students to study any area of say, mechanical, electrical and software engineering at Masters level. So we decided to abandon all our specialised degrees including mechatronics. However, what we have done is enable students in any degree stream to study across discipline boundaries at undergraduate and Masters level. Therefore students can choose for themselves. Students interested in mechatronics can take mechanical, electrical or software engineering and then take specialised units in the other disciplines if they want to.
      The other side of your question raises the issue that, as an engineer, you will immediately find yourself working with people from other disciplinary backgrounds. Rarely if ever do engineers find themselves in a situation where they are only working with people from their own discipline. You might be surprised to learn how engineers from different engineering backgrounds really think. The differences can be surprising. Graduates with marketing, commerce, accounting or business backgrounds also think completely differently from engineers. The sooner you interact with people from different backgrounds, people who think differently from you, the easier it will be for you. Recent research shows that students who have had this experience value their education more highly than those who only worked with students from their own discipline.
      Even if your academic program does not provide opportunities for you to work with students from other disciplines, I’m sure that you can join clubs and societies or get part-time work alongside students with other backgrounds. The sooner you do that the better you will be prepared to have a wonderful time as an engineer.

      Like

  4. Hello, Mr. Trevelyan. I found your book when I was searching about deliberate practice in engineering. You did a very excellent job! Thank you for your work and effort bringing this material to us, engineers.
    After some reading and listening to the Engineering Commons Podcast, where you discuss your book, I found myself a little bit lost. You recommend that new engineers always learn from senior engineers who are in the same company or actuation field. In my case, I’m the only engineer working in the company in my expertise area. Most of the senior engineers from other companies are our competitors and won’t share information easily.
    For an engineer in my situation, what is the best approach to get more intrinsic knowledge and embodied knowledge as weel?

    Like

  5. Hello, Mr. Trevelyan. I found your book when I was searching about deliberate practice in engineering. You did a very excellent job! Thank you for your work and effort bringing this material to us, engineers.
    After some reading and listening to the Engineering Commons Podcast, where you discuss your book, I found myself a little bit lost. You recommend that new engineers always learn from senior engineers who are in the same company or actuation field. In my case, I’m the only engineer working in the company in my expertise area. Most of the senior engineers from other companies are our competitors and won’t share information easily.
    For an engineer in my situation, what is the best approach to get more intrinsic knowledge and embodied knowledge as weel?

    Like

    • Weverton, thanks for raising an excellent question. From my research I have learned there are many ways that engineers in your position gain access to relevant technical and commercial information.
      It’s not an uncommon issue: have seen many instances where engineers working in the same organization can be equally reluctant to help. That so often arises because of organizational culture and internal commercial processes.
      From my research, engineers in your position learn much from their suppliers and clients. Suppliers offer new products and ideas, and you can be sure your competitors are being stimulated by the same or competing suppliers. I found many instances where clients, particularly where the clients are engineers themselves, know as much or more about aspects of products and services as the makers or suppliers. Some choose to work with universities and students who often stimulate new ideas in your mind by the questions they ask. Small research donations can foster helpful relationships with academic advisers. Some engineers find events organized by professional associations to be helpful. Still others hire consultants in a way that facilitates knowledge and skill transfer rather than simply hiring the consultants to present a report without understanding how they did it. Finally, self-learning is often a major part of “solo” engineers’ lives. Now that patent databases are easily accessible, there is a wealth of valuable commercial know-how lying to be discovered, often in patent applications unrelated to your direct line of interest. The patent applicants or holders can be contacted directly and, especially if they are not in your direct field of commercial competition, can be helpful. Many engineers find international conferences and trade shows a rewarding experience as they see ideas emerging in unrelated products that can be applied in their own.

      Like


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