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As engineers, we love to build things. Big things. Complicated things. New things. And, if we’re honest, we’re pretty good at it, aren’t we? There’s just one little problem – does anyone actually want what we’ve built? Maybe yes, maybe no. If yes, we’re golden. If no, we’re in big trouble. Let me explain. You see, engineers have this nasty habit of coming up with brilliant ideas. Not that there’s anything wrong with these ideas, but the fact that an engineer came up with them is cause for...read more
[Note from Pat: This is a guest post from a colleague of mine, Joel Erway. Joel is an expert in helping engineers pass their Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, a must-do if you want to become a professional engineer in the United States.] I have dealt with many engineers aspiring to obtain their Professional Engineering (PE) license. Everyone struggles along the way. Here are 5 common mistakes you need to avoid in your preparation. Also, if you’re interested in a new way to prepare for the FE exam, be sure to see the link at the end of...read more
Hi everyone, It’s been quite a while since I wrote my first engineering haiku. It’s received some rave reviews, so here’s my next instalment. I call it “Excel Formulas”. Excel formulas Like lines of poetry But more useful Tweet this! Original photo credit: Flickr/ Jim Makos Free 90-Day Course and Career Guide Sign up below to enrol in my epic "90 Days to Becoming an Engineering Ninja" course for free and get my career guide "The 7 Disastrous Habits of Highly Ineffective...read more
[Note from Pat: Today's post is from Rebecca Martin on how to get a management position. She is the community outreach coordinator for the University of North Carolina’s MBA online program. Becca graduated from Loyola University in Maryland with a B.A. in Business Administration and a concentration in marketing. An avid traveler and lover of all things tech, Becca spent a year abroad working for a technology company in the wine sector. Now, back in the USA, Becca spends her spare time visiting friends in other cities, volunteering, and...read more
In the world of engineering, most of us work in a “project environment”. That is to say, most of our work consists of a series of distinct, unique endeavours to accomplish some specific goal. That could be to design a new product or service, for example. This might not seem like much of a major observation, but it has important consequences. You see, there’s a distinct science to how projects are run and managed. In fact, there’s a whole profession dedicated to project management (see PMI.org). These folks exist...read more
As much as I hate to admit it, engineers are fallible (Gasp!). I know, I know, we spent years in school learning second order derivatives, every function possible in Excel, and have the Greek alphabet memorized. But still, it happens from time to time that we screw up as engineers. Sometimes, our designs just plain miss the mark. Today, I want to talk about five of the most common reasons that engineering designs fail. I’ve seen these mistakes time and time again in my career. If you can make an effort to avoid these mistakes, I...read more
Do you work in an environment with high levels of uncertainty? Uncertainty is characterized by high complexity (that is, many players or factors are at work) and high instability (things can change in a moment). If you have both complexity and instability, you have what’s called an uncertain environment. This is exactly the kind of environment I work in, and it can be brutally difficult to stay on top of things. I work in the rail industry. As you can imagine, building a new rail vehicle is a massive undertaking with 100’s of...read more
[Note from Pat: This is a guest post from Carl Friesen, principal of Global Reach Communications Inc.] Many engineers believe strongly that technical excellence is their path to career success. So they focus on technical aspects such as accuracy in measurement, workable designs and elegant code. And these aspects are important — as a non-engineer I’m glad that the bridges I walk across are designed by people who care about getting it right. But to grow into a leadership role, engineers need to move beyond the technology, to...read more
My wife and I were in one of our favourite downtown coffee shops recently on a date. We were having a wonderful time together. It had been a little while since we had had a chance to just put our busy lives on hold to go out for some time just for us. It was fantastic. I was one happy engineer. The situation changed suddenly when someone in the table next to us started choking. She was gasping for air. There was a moment of confusion when everyone in the coffee stopped dead in their tracks and turned to look at the woman. Eventually, it...read more
T oday, I want to teach you about one of the most important productivity hacks I’ve ever learned. This one simple tip has single-handedly improved my technical skills, communication skills, business knowledge, and overall satisfaction with life. Even better, it hasn’t taken an ounce of extra time out of my life to implement. Now, I know what you’re saying to yourself. You’re saying “But Pat, this is too good to be true!” Fear not, naysayer, for there really is a simple explanation. Ready for it? The...read more