We asked a young mechanical design engineer to answer some of the common questions engineers are asked. Would you like to ask something? Please leave a comment!
1. When did you decide you wanted to be a mechanical engineer?
I originally wanted to be an architect, because of my love for designing and technical drawing. Once I found out what an architect actually does, I swiftly changed my career trajectory towards engineering. Naive as I was, I was drawn towards Aeronautical Engineering, because I had a love for cars and thought that it would be centred around aerodynamics! Before I entered college I finally did my research and decided that Mechanical Engineering was the best route for me. It was the perfect blend of design and engineering, and it gave me the flexibility to still go in any direction I wanted after college, as it is such a broad degree.
I really feel that anyone that is a bit unsure about what type of engineering they want to choose, can choose Mechanical Engineering and hopefully during the course figure out what aspects of engineering they love. It’s a great platform to start from, I chose to stay and work in the Mechanical Engineering field as I really liked the involvement mechanical engineers have in other fields, and personally I like the mechanical side of engineering.
2. Is being a mechanical engineer fun?
This is a subjective question, but for me I do find some aspects of mechanical engineering fun. It is a challenging job, and the design process and teamwork within the company for projects is definitely one of the more fun aspects of mechanical engineering. Site visits can also be enjoyable, as you get to see your designs come to life and interact with the other professionals on the project.
3. What is the strangest thing to happen to you while on the job?
The strangest thing that I have seen was when we were invited to a job site, an apartment renovation in New York City. We had to go through the main entrance of the apartment building as the service elevator was out of order. While we were walking through the hallway on the 28th floor a man passed us out totally naked! Yup. We just had to act like nothing had happened and proceed to enter the apartment!
4. Is engineering stressful?
Yes. Kind of. It depends. Whenever you are given a short deadline on a project it will always be stressful no matter what industry you’re in right? Well engineering is no different.
Project reviews are also one of the situations that make me the most uncomfortable at work, when you are sitting in a room full of other engineers who are critiquing your design, work, project etc., it can make you a little nervous!
5. Is dating hard as an engineer?
Well, there are definitely more women entering engineering these days, making it more balanced all round. So while you are in college, there should be no problem in dating other engineers or anyone else for that matter. When you start your career as an engineer, some companies may expect you to work long hours as you will be in an entry-level position trying to prove yourself, this can make meeting new people a little harder. In my opinion, it should be no harder trying to date as an engineer than any other profession. There might even be some interesting women in your office. Although the men-to-women ratio might not be in men’s favour!
6. Do engineers work crazy hours?
Following on from my last answer, yes sometimes you may have to work long hours in order to meet your project deadlines, or to prove your commitment to your career when you are just starting out. While I do not agree with or advise this, I don’t see any problem with doing in the short term in order to further your career.
In my opinion it is important to get into a routine of leaving the office around the same time most days, as in my own personal experience (of working 80 hour weeks) it does not do you any good in the long run. These long hours can become expected of you and if you do not keep them up it can look like you’re slacking off!
7. Are engineers all maths wizards?
NO! Definitely not. You do not need to be great at maths to be a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineering focuses on your communication, design and organizational skills more than pure maths. If you are good enough to get through maths in college, then you are definitely good enough at maths to become an engineer.
8. What is the stupidest question that you have been asked as an engineer?
I must say there have been too many to mention! The few that stick out in my mind are mainly from interviews. One (apparently illegal) question I was asked was “Are you willing to put your job before your family?”
The answer was no. Obviously.
Another great one was, “Have you ever had trouble starting your car?”
You would think someone interviewing for a mechanical engineering position would know the difference between a mechanical engineering and a mechanic!
What is your weakest strength?
Try to make sense of this one… The questions were in this order:
What is your greatest weakness?
What is your greatest strength?
What is your WEAKEST STRENGTH??
Try answering that last one without stuttering.
If you could be a kitchen appliance, which one would you be?
It is an indictment to the intelligence of the human race that this is a commonly asked question to engineers. A personal favourite is the pizza cutter, if I deem the question is worthy of an answer! Pizza is always the right answer.
9. Does being a mechanical engineer help you in everyday life?
Yes it does. I personally work in the MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) field, which gives me a great understanding of how buildings and houses work. No matter what engineering discipline or field you are employed in, you will no doubt accrue so real-world knowledge from the mostly hands-on work that a mechanical engineer does.
10. Is mechanical engineering glamorous?
For the most part, I would say that mechanical engineering is not the most glamorous of jobs. If you are employed in a major city like I am, then you will get to see great projects be created in front of you which is amazing to see. However engineers usually work behind the scenes, ensuring that projects are running smoothly and working efficiently. As opposed to designers and maybe architects that get to present their work more often than mechanical engineers.