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› Is engineering for you? Listen to the voices of engineers as they tell their career stories in their own words:
During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, several of my buildings withstood forces 2-5 times stronger than they were designed to withstand. I was assured by my superiors that those buildings could have killed thousands of people if they had fallen. I'm not a hero, but I felt enormous pride at seeing those buildings still standing. Had I not chosen to do this with my life, how many families would be missing a loved one today?
Catalytic Systems Test Engineer
My position is responsible for running emissions tests on vehicles and engines as a developmental tool for effective catalytic converter production.
It is rewarding to know that I am part of an engineering process that results in less pollution entering our atmosphere. The technology I help to bring to market, especially in countries such as India and China where air pollution is severe, will help in part to prevent countless respiratory illnesses.
Product Design Engineer
I am a designer of implants and instruments for human joints. Hips, knees, fingers, toes, and everything between is fair game for replacement. I spend a lot of time interfacing with surgeons to find out what products on the market work and which do not.
Every day, the things I do affect people down the road. If I design a great new knee, someone will be able to walk that wasn't able to before. There is someone out there who has a new shoulder because an engineer designed it. The thought that something that I designed will actually be implanted into someone, using other instruments that I also designed, makes every moment that I work completely worth it. It is most definitely my calling.
As a child, I was always interested in reading about inventors such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Nikolai Tesla. I always found their exploits to be both fascinating and inspiring. I became hooked on electricity after a visit to a science center that featured a huge Van de Graaff generator. The huge lightning bolts that it created were awe inspiring.
I go to work each day with the knowledge that I am helping supply an important, sometimes vital commodity to the community. People with severe medical conditions need their equipment to work reliably. The high heat means people need their air conditioning to work. I'm proud to be able to make that happen.
I love this field. I love solving problems and fixing things. When I was a kid, I used to take stuff apart to see how it worked. I used to drive my mom crazy! Now that I am an adult, I get paid to take stuff apart and fix it! You can't beat that.
I got started in this field basically because my family encouraged me. My grandfather was a mechanic and I spent a lot of time with him in the garage working on cars. When I told him that I wanted to be a mechanic just like him, he told me that there was no money in it. Then he said, "You are so smart. You should be an engineer." I was just a little kid and I came home and told my parents I was going to be an engineer. They laughed at me because no one had ever gone to college in my family. But when I kept telling them that I wanted to be an engineer, they began to encourage me to follow my dream. I'm glad that they did!
I do consulting with different companies around the world and right now I spend a lot of time in Denmark. My company is good about paying expenses while I am abroad so it is pretty good. I get paid extra when I'm away from the home office and my wife likes that a lot! Recently, she and the kids flew over to spend some time with me and that was great. That was mainly because the project I was working on took several months to complete. It was a good experience for the kids to learn about another culture.
My work involves learning new technologies and applications in the research fields in order to make effective sales presentations one-on-one or to groups of scientists and engineers. Many of these personnel are highly acclaimed in their fields which makes my job very challenging but also very rewarding intellectually.
I get to travel a lot since my territory is half of the United Sates. It is culturally rewarding since I try new restaurants and take in the sights of many cities nationwide. I feel that my work advances the causes of fundamental science research and in many ways improves the human condition.
I work in Florida, and most of my projects are residential and commercial developments. I design the water and sewer systems, layout the power lines and roads, and design the drainage systems.
I like seeing the things I design get built, I like being able to drive home and point at a subdivision and say “I built that.”
Software and Quality Engineer
I’ve been fortunate to work with the top minds and engineers around the world in the software industry and therefore have a pretty solid base from which to work on projects using a holistic approach.
The biggest misconception that those on the quality side in software have to contend with is that they are somehow all software testers. In fact, most quality engineers will tell you that their work is aimed at preventing problems, not discovering existing problems.
My colleagues and I solve problems based on our clients’ needs. We do everything from modifying an existing commercial product for a custom application to building a satellite system completely from scratch. To design and build our projects, I use computer software, I hand build components such as circuit boards for prototypes, and I travel to not-so-exotic locations to field test them. Some people think that engineers spend their days behind desks crunching numbers. My work is much more varied and interactive. I get to play with a lot of fun toys and cool electronics.
Knowing that each day will bring new and interesting problems to solve keeps me excited about what I do. I wish I could provide more details but the work I do is classified and considered matters of national security. Unfortunately the work that I am most proud of, I can’t discuss publicly at all. I can’t even tell my family about my successes on the job.
There is one part of the job that has given me the most personal satisfaction, and that is Process Hazard Analysis and Process Safety. As the go-to person for the company when it comes to hazard reviews, I get the sense that I'm doing something that is valuable and important for the greater good. Process Safety issues have the potential to impact not only plant personnel but also the surrounding community. Preventing injuries and finding ways to make chemical manufacturing safer is a passion of mine.
I go to work each day because it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I like the fact that I can begin a project, tackle challenges along the way, and then see it all the way through to completion. It is a good feeling to be able to drive down the road, point to a reactor or a distillation tower and tell my daughter that I designed it.
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