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EEs as MEs

EEs as MEs

EEs as MEs

Why is it that so many EEs believe the ME's job is a no brainer? This has been a constant for over 30years in my electronic packaging career! Just yesterday, my boss (an EE) was in a meeting with me (an ME), another EE, and a another ME. The other ME was going to answer his question as to how long it'll take to import a new CCA into his assembly model, add the end-launch CCA connectors (12 of them of three different types), add the mating connectors (as place holders), redesign the custom heat sink (including necessary heat transfer calculations), and design a cover from scratch. My boss, before the ME could even open his mouth, pre-empted him by saying he believed the work should take 4-5hrs. The ME then went on to say it will take him 16-24 hours to do the work IF he focused only on that job with three other projects on his plate.

How can a guy (my boss like so many other well-meaning EEs) who has never operated a 3D CAD program or FEA program in his life dein to think he is qualified to estimate what it'll take to do FEA and CAD design work (ME work)? Somehow these EEs think they can sit in judgement of the MEs!



RE: EEs as MEs

I used to think that it was because some of my employers had 'Electronics' in their name.

Then I figured that EEs think everything about engineering can be reduced to equations, and since they can look the equations up just as well as anyone else, well, how hard could it be?

Eventually, the EEs got a comeuppance.
They hired a female with a mathematics degree, and gave her _my_ job.
I found other things to do, while she royally screwed that job up, so they recruited an old ME to sort of help her out.
... and she went on to design a power supply, multiple outputs, switching regulators, cooled by natural convection, total custom job.
It was perfect.
... until the programmers discovered that they needed a somewhat zoomier microprocessor and more memory to add some fancier functions that were added to the spec late in gestation.
... and then, the EEs discovered that there was no extra power available to run a zoomier chip; not even an extra 5 watts, not even 1 watt.
The perfect power supply had absolutely no margin for uncertainty, on any output, and it was already tooled up and starting production.
So the programmers homebrewed a headerless sorta FORTH, of course without calling it that, painfully hand built in assembler, and just barely managed to squeeze the new functions into the available code space.
No, that was not the comeuppance; she didn't even get yelled at; she got promoted.
... some of the EEs ended up working for her; that was the comeuppance.

She retired from the remains of the company not long ago.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: EEs as MEs

There are two questions that seem to be quite similar, but are actually quite different.

1) How long should it take?
2) How long will it take?

The 'should' version might presuppose that investments have been made in the latest CAD workstation, latest software (including fully integrated thermal modeling), all necessary requirements clearly defined, all necessary data on hand, support staff on hot standby, pizza on offer, etc.

The reality is more likely to be a drafty office wired with 10Mbps network, 17-inch monitor, corrupted files, obsolete software, etc.

Question 2 is the question that matters.

The above is just one possible contributor to this discrepancy.

RE: EEs as MEs


Trust me, the reverse situation is equally frustrating. Mechs who have barely mastered the principle of lefty-loosey, righty-tighty tell me how long my work will take and how much it will cost. They are invariably wrong with both, and then blame the electrical engineers for overspend and overrun.

RE: EEs as MEs

Yeah, the reverse is a lost cause, too. From a Mechie standpoint, if the parts fit in the 3D model, the board is buildable. Of course, that does not take into account trace routing concerns, space for vias to get the signal from one layer to another, component-to-component clearances due to process inaccuracies, etc. "But all of the parts fit on MY model!"

Dan - Owner

RE: EEs as MEs

The reverse situation of an EE working under ME management. My ME manager thinks if he can't see 'the technical problem', then it is not a problem. ME live in a world where a lot of their design issues can be visualized using normal human senses of sight, touch, sound, feeling. EEs work in a world where everything is a abstraction of what is going on, and you examine a circuit through a 'soda-straw' visual aid like a meter or oscilloscope where you can see one point at a time.

Of course my ME boss drives the MEs (and EEs) crazy also. He can 'see' thermal flow so it is not a problem and refuses to buy thermal modeling software for the MEs, or even a thermal camera. A big problem as we design power electronics for aerospace applications.

The issue with your EE boss and my ME boss may be just the issue of a bad boss. "Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand." - Putt's Law

RE: EEs as MEs



The issue with your EE boss and my ME boss may be just the issue of a bad boss.

That's it, not what type of engineer. Bosses who don't respect their team members are the problem. Many are complete dolts. Half the time the people advanced are the ones who are crummy at the job so capable people can fill their original positions.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: EEs as MEs

A colleague of mine had a good argumentative analogy for this type of question:
1: How fast can you type?
2: XXX words per minute
3: OK, give me a 90,000 word novel in 90,000 / XXX minutes.

A bit over-dramatic, for sure. But it does help make the point.

RE: EEs as MEs

Thanks guys. Oh, I have a new example. I wrote an email in which I informed the hardware EE that the mounting holes he picked for a CCA were too small. I went on to inform him there is "a better" hole size after using the fixed fastener formula from ASME Y14.5-2009 (it's also probably in ISO 1101). Since he's the CCA designer, he probably picked the mounting hole size (in my experience, no EEs or ECAD designers know how to quantify the role that positional tolerances play) by adding some "rule of thumb" clearance to the fastener diameter. I joined the team long after that hole size was picked.

The next day, my boss was joking around with me and my neighbor, a new ECAD designer he had just hired, and made a joke out of my making an issue of CCA mounting holes. I let it slide (mostly because I think of the best things to say and the best way to handle such things well after they've come and gone).

Maybe I'm too sensitive, but after working with EEs for so many years I still get burned when they (especially bosses, who are supposed to be wiser and better educated) regularly oversimplify and trivialize the things the MEs do. Of course this is usually due to a lack of knowledge but it's often also due to the belief that nobody else's job is as hard as theirs glasses!

BTW most board designers (EEs and ECAD designers who have done this stuff their entire careers) justify their choices by pointing out that, even though their mounting hole should have been bigger according to the ME, the board fit fine when the enclosure came in. What he doesn't know is that he can thank the fabricators (machinist and PCB house) who hit the hole positions dead on and nowhere close to the allowable limits. Naturally none of these guys ever take up my offer to show them how to calculate the hole size that is guaranteed to always fit even if all pertinent dimensions stray within the allowable limits in both parts. Just wait until the hole positions stray a little when the volumes get high and somebody either makes a minor tooling or process change or we change suppliers!


RE: EEs as MEs

Working in an industry where electrical engineers are a necessary evil, we are invariably at the back of the queue in terms of resources, budget, manpower, storage space, workshop capacity, and so on.

Two process-critical pumps were replaced last year. The process demand has dropped over the plant's long life, and the new pumps were considerably smaller. Some pipework modifications were required and minor civils to install the new skids alongside the old ones while the originals were still in service. All well-planned and nicely executed by the mechanical projects group.

At the eleventh hour the mechs remember that the new pumps will need to be connected up electrically. No problem, it's just three wires, right? ponder

While it's true that there were only three wires involved, the situation was complicated slightly by the new motors requiring a 400V supply, while the originals were connected at 3,300V. The nearest LV substation is around 400 yards away over an awkward high-level route, and there are no suitable starter buckets available at that substation. Awkward details like Ohm's Law and the wiring regulations meant the new cables were large and costly. None of this had been budgetted for because they hadn't had the courtesy to involve us in estimating the job, and by the point we did get involved they had already reported to management that the installation was finished and only waiting for electrical to finish their work.

Naturally this was all the fault of the electrical department.

In the meeting where I was presented with this train wreck of a job, my observation that "You clowns were right - you don't need a electrical engineer on this job. You need a ****ing magician to fix this mess..." was described as negative and unhelpful.

I have raised a requisition for a crystal ball to help us do better next time around. lol

RE: EEs as MEs

Quote (ScottyUK)

I have raised a requisition for a crystal ball to help us do better next time around.
Which the MEs will invariably undersize the requirements for... tongue

Dan - Owner

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