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Game plan to start my own little business out of college
11

Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
Tell me about some small engineering jobs you can do and average pay

I'm considering opening up my own practice when I graduate. I'm not chasing the money, I want the satisfaction of doing things my own way, for the better. (More on that after my questions though) I've looked up all the requirements and I should have no problem with my degree.

Questions:

How much engineering work is there in a local market? How much entry level work?

Do houses all need a mechanical engineer to sign off on them (Georgia)?

I know some states require calculations for the ideal AC unit size.

Also, there's ductwork and such that would need to be engineered for any custom house design. I'm aware that many house plans just have this stuff engineered once, so any house built from plans has minimal engineering involved.

Is it easy to bid on state government work? I already see the federal requirements need a dun & Bradstreet number, it'd take a while to get that

do larger companies ever sub out work? I live right near some aerospace companies

My background:

I have automotive experience, making custom parts, wiring, custom ECU's, etc.

my most relevant experience is HVAC. I have lots of HVAC experience from working on design bids, etc.

CAD, lots of CAD experience. 3d scanning and reverse engineering experience

Machining, including CNC, setting up my own machines/linux cnc

My inspiration

HVAC: I see so many things done just for initial cost savings. Also I see so many things where people just didn't use their heads, and so much $$ could have been saved with just a little more experience or thinking.

Automotive: Honestly I'm not sure where this field is going. I can do custom ECU's, design parts, all that stuff, and do a good job, but the performance market is shrinking a little since the fast and furious days have fizzled. Now it's mostly about stance.

I saw a manufacturing plant of dental tools. Totally automated proccess. Making the robots that moved the bits around would be easy for me. They told me they don't often need that stuff done, but when they do, the contracts are big money, and it's hard for them to find someone who can do it. My control experience, CAD experience, and everything else makes this something I really understand.

I think I can do it on my own. I really believe in that. I know it'll be very slow to grow. I may start after I graduate with the bachelors and go for my masters in something.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

When I worked in CA, a Mechanical PE was required to sign all documents on HVAC equipment. But that was long ago.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
The funny thing is the GA form seems very simple. No mention of a ncees exam, or another exam, which seems like it would be required. However, it says it's governed by some other law or authority which I can't find easy requirements for. I understand most states require 4 years of experience. I'm not so sure where to start.

EDIT: found With exception of a locally prepared examination on hydrology and the legal aspects of land surveying in Georgia, all examinations will be in accordance with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
GA R&R » Department 180 » Chapter 180-2

There is no mention of a minimum years of experience required, however, there are listed requirements for the type of experience, it seems mostly subjective stuff.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
^Ok thanks for that. In that case, I'll try and get a part time job at a firm after I graduate as an undergrad and try and graduate with my masters debt free. There seems, although I may be mistaken, not to be a requirement that those years of experience were full time.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Quote:

not to be a requirement that those years of experience were full time.

I think you are barking up a non-existent tree here; it has to be at least close to full-time, otherwise, you could possibly do 2 hrs of engineering in 4 yrs, one at the start and one at the end, and claim 4 yrs of experience. Not only would that be ludicrous, but you'd be unlikely to get any legitimate PE to sign off on your "experience."

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

2
Ah, the confidence of youth! You'll do well, eventually. But until then you will need more real world experience, and a steady income. I've been in and around the engineering consulting business for several decades. I've worked in one man operations, small local firms, and large multi-national conglomerates. One thing I can tell you for sure - if the only demonstrable thing you have to offer a potential client is just a degree, you don't have much. In my humble opinion, your real education STARTS AFTER you graduate. As you work your way through several jobs in diverse fields, look at each one as just another class in the school of reality. You will gain knowledge, and skills, and judgment in each one. You will learn how to approach different situations. You will learn where the land mines are.

You will also learn what you really want to do, and what you don't want to do. For example, designing HVAC systems and designing parts for CNC manufacturing are two VERY different skill sets. I don't know anybody that can do both at expert level. I'm a mechanical engineer, but I couldn't calculate the heat load on a building if I had to.

In short, your personal experiences will answer all your questions above. And personal experience is by far the best teacher.

At some point you will have enough real world experience that you could actually make regular house payments by offering your own personal abilities on the open market. Only then should you seriously consider making the jump.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

I didn't know you really needed an engineer to size AC units. It isn't at all tied to public safety.

I would be weary of anything that requires so little experience that a fresh graduate could handle it themselves. Anything that has no barrier to entry will pay terribly for the time and effort. There will be too much competition.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Quote:

I didn't know you really needed an engineer to size AC units. It isn't at all tied to public safety.

Designing a system for your own private industrial facility, no. Soliciting work for an apartment building, yes. Safety is a fairly minor concern in the grand scheme of HVAC work, however you're still dealing with fans and hot/cold components which need appropriate shielding. You're also dealing with freon which has potential to kill those exposed to it in confined spaces, nvm the federal regulations safeguarding its escape into the atmosphere. In reality, the issue is more due to the fact that a properly designed system has a ton of engineering and lab development behind it, so its rather tough to consider it non-engineering as its not something a tradesman can do on their own.

OP, I'm sure in your mind you know the points listed in your background. Unfortunately the reality you're going to find is that without a decade or two's experience in a particular engineering niche under proficient mentorship, your work is simply going to be crude as hell. ~30% of the knowledge for any given design role is taught in college, most of it comes from the experience of having an experienced group of mentors telling you why things work and why they don't. Even small tasks like running a CAD system need this bc there's a ton of opportunity for bad habits to slow down complex files, and properly structuring and organizing files is no trivial task. The first two things taught in a good engineering program are the dangers of engineers stepping outside their experience based on their belief of having knowledge (basic engineering ethics), and that you have to work dam hard at seemingly small tasks to be proficient. Go work for a large company, get some experience, and in a decade or two build a business on experience, not fraud. In the meantime, allot yourself 50-60 hrs/wk for at least the first year for work and the continual education necessary to learn your first role.

"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge." -Boorstin

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
Thanks for all the tips guys! I think I'll take the good advice.

Quote (CWB1 (Mechanical))

OP, I'm sure in your mind you know the points listed in your background. Unfortunately the reality you're going to find is that without a decade or two's experience in a particular engineering niche under proficient mentorship, your work is simply going to be crude as hell. ~30% of the knowledge for any given design role is taught in college, most of it comes from the experience of having an experienced group of mentors telling you why things work and why they don't. Even small tasks like running a CAD system need this bc there's a ton of opportunity for bad habits to slow down complex files, and properly structuring and organizing files is no trivial task. The first two things taught in a good engineering program are the dangers of engineers stepping outside their experience based on their belief of having knowledge (basic engineering ethics), and that you have to work dam hard at seemingly small tasks to be proficient. Go work for a large company, get some experience, and in a decade or two build a business on experience, not fraud.

There's a few interesting points here, that are actually quite applicable to most situations, but go against my experience. For example: My teacher for CAD has a degree. A student in class will have a problem on a project and ask him for help. He was trying things for around 8 minutes when I went over and just said "I overheard a little and this seems interesting", I had it fixed in 10 seconds.

I've seen in this case, I can do a better job than the expert.

In another case, I was working on a bid for a data center job at a hospital. A design, quote, finalize bid kindof thing. The chiller was many stories up on the hospital roof. The engineer, who mind you was certified, was considering relative factors, and protecting the data centers was one of them. She was designing the system with welded steel pipes in an earthquake prone zone. She ran the idea by us, asking how much it would cost to build a trough under the pipe to protect from leaks. I don't think the water pressure from the pump and many stories up would fall gently into a trough, and that's not considering the volume.

This hospital had two data centers. If one went bad, they had to have a backup. There was yet another backup off site. Anyways. In this other data center the hospital had, you could see the engineering solutions someone else had come up with, which this engineer on the job we were bidding had obviously not taken the time or effort to look into. Aquatherm was in use, certainly a clever idea concerning pipe breakage concerns, and the piping was routed in such a way as the piping in the actual room was minimal, and below the floor, vs. above the ceiling. Genius.

I just think it's little common sense things like that, and exactly that that make someone who cares about doing a good job, and takes the time to use their eyes and brain better than someone who has been doing it one way for 17 years, and doesn't want to change their ways (always steel pipe above drop ceilings). You could say that's almost the real fraud. To get a degree, a license, sit down to do work with that degree and license, and yet do it like a chimpanzee. There's no obvious reason for it. It undoubtedly costs more, and has more risk this way, and yet, your customer sees your qualifications and thinks they're getting a quality job. Now that I see all the requirements I'm curious how she got someone to sign off on her experience.

Anyways. Tha's kindof besides the point. We don't need more engineers like that around, and you guys have convinced me it's better to get a lot of practical experience. I'm going to follow this advice, thanks!

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

In Georgia, you will be required to be licensed as a Professional Engineer to offer services to the public. You can't do that straight out of college. If you get a master's degree, it will count for 1 year of your full time experience, otherwise you will need 4 years of relevant experience to take the PE exam. Georgia uses the national model (NCEES), so their requirements are not significantly different from other states.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Michael:..If you have any reservations about heeding the advice given here, click on the names of those posting comments. Note those with the most valuable advice are old timers who have been through it all. Don't dismiss it.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
You guys are right. I think what I'll try and do is get my foot in the door part time somewhere, meanwhile try and do some kindof work on my own that perhaps does not require a license. Designing some factory equipment at a dental tool manufacturing facility was one, but they don't need things very often I was told. It was all interesting stuff, and pretty basic. It involved lots of different things, micro controllers, CNC, mechanical design of arms to transport parts, all kinds of stuff to get from start to finish. They told me they can hardly find anybody that can do that kindof stuff, and it pays well when they do.

I presume it's easier, although less fruitful, to do these kinds of small jobs, if you can find them. Correct me if I'm mistaken.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Some have mentioned the PE license. There's a world of paperwork and expenses other than that. Dealing with NCEES, PE boards in several states, and the Secretary of State in several states is nearly a full time job for a start-up and the costs are pretty high. I'd recommend saving a pretty large chunk of dough before trying to go solo.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

You intend to design equipment for others. Do understand the importance of liability insurance and its costs.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Quote:

I just think it's little common sense things like that, and exactly that that make someone who cares about doing a good job, and takes the time to use their eyes and brain better than someone who has been doing it one way for 17 years, and doesn't want to change their ways (always steel pipe above drop ceilings). You could say that's almost the real fraud. To get a degree, a license, sit down to do work with that degree and license, and yet do it like a chimpanzee. There's no obvious reason for it. It undoubtedly costs more, and has more risk this way, and yet, your customer sees your qualifications and thinks they're getting a quality job. Now that I see all the requirements I'm curious how she got someone to sign off on her experience.

Engineering is like any other job or profession, there are folks that are good at their jobs and those that are terrible. Work hard under competent mentorship and you will become a good engineer. Don't strive to only be better than the unethically incompetent. And yes, you are correct in that selling services in an area outside of one's competence (education AND experience) is unethical (fraudulent) tho many here will argue me on my use of the "AND."

As to plant automation design, there are tons of companies specializing in it. Many are really good, many are really bad. IMHO the defining aspect between the two is competent engineering staff - the good companies have experienced engineers and the bad ones have folks who learned to program Fanuc bots at the local community college in six weeks.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
Thanks for the tips guys! After considering the advice, I've kindof changed my plan to be mostly engineering that does not require a license. I think I'd also try and get a part time job somewhere to learn more. A friend of mine found some part time structural engineering. Not sure how common part time jobs are in mech/elec fields.

Quote (weldstan)

You intend to design equipment for others. Do understand the importance of liability insurance and its costs.
Say I design stuff like I saw int he factory I visited. Just moving small parts from one place to the other. It was fascinating. I can't imagine there being human life at stake. I'm just not sure in this case how much liability there would be. I imagine designing stuff for say, a foundry, a water dam, or chemical plants, could have a huge liability because human lives are at stake. They had excellent quality control and I imagine if somehow, anything I designed affected production it'd be caught before the batch left the factory.

CWB1, the more I consider what you're saying, the more I know it's practical wisdom, and it's true. Here's where you're right, but I would like my career to be different:

Quote (CWB1)

Work hard under competent mentorship and you will become a good engineer.
I've learned the best people are self taught. This is impractical or impossible in many fields today, and you atleast need to use education and experience as a "stepping stone". Imagine the ethical and practical problems of being a self taught doctor, for example. To be a generator of knowledge you have to be capable of learning on your own, for yourself. To be good, you can just learn everything that has already been discovered and apply it practically.

I don't really want to be the guy who learns for years and years under others, I kindof like the excitement of learning for myself. It's always disappointing, however, to come up with what you think is a new idea, and to discover it's already been patented or thought of before.

Anyways, now knowing some of my personality, and shifted goals, what are some things I could do so that every day is a new challenge, where I learn for myself what works and doesn't? Even if I don't generate knowledge for others, something where I generate knowledge for myself.

I'm thinking it has to be something with low liability for one.

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Quote:

I'm just not sure in this case how much liability there would be.

Say your equipment introduced a latent defect or contaminated the product somehow; who do you think will bear a chunk of the warranty costs?

Quote:

I've learned the best people are self taught.

That may be your experience, but those are extremely rare, and that doesn't mean that being self-taught will make you the best. Correlation does not mean causation; and those that are the best might have been the best, regardless of their education. Consider that the members of Mensa have IQs above 132 and 96% of them had at least some college; that does not mean that going to college will get you into Mensa.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

I'm battling a material-handling-robot situation right now in which someone who thought they knew what they were doing, didn't.

Hitting the E-stop on the teach pendant stopped that robot but didn't stop anything else, including the other robot. That was the first indication. It proved to be just the tip of the iceberg.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
I don't suppose there's any advantage to joining Mensa? I took the practice test on their website, which was just 30 questions, then took this one, which was more comprehensive:



Each time I scored the same percentile.

There were two linguistic questions I found difficult. One was, Spell a different word using all the same letters as "INSATIABLE". I'm not in whatever academic discipline would prepare me to do well on a question like this, but, whenever you are in an area such as this and you have no idea what the answer is, you can seek analogues to previous experience or similar knowledge.

In this case, for example, I took all the letters out of insatiable and put them in order. I don't even know what these things I did are called. I combined the letters in to pairs of two, three, four, or 5 letters. I even used math. X combinations of Y letters will allow me to use 10 letters, for example.

I spent so much time on this one problem I couldn't finish everything. But in the end, I got it right.

The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is suppose someone is inexperienced. Suppose that person has a brain though, and likes putting it to use. He may come up with a method of solving a problem that has never been thought of before, and that beats all the rest. (mine doesn't beat all the rest, took way to long)

Meanwhile, those who have gone through whatever academic discipline deals with this thing specifically, will deal with it the way they were taught, which is certainly much faster than my own way.

But the point is, you don't have to know the best, easiest, or fastest method to come up with the right answer. You can just try something, and if it doesn't work, you can just try something else. The solution doesn't depend on one particular method. A method can be incapable of producing the desired solution.


So I guess what I would be thrilled to know is, what kindof things can I do with an engineering degree, by myself, which carries little risk, where I can come up with solutions in my own way, without any regard to how experts with the specific training come up with those solutions?

I need to do things where I can check or test it myself to know that the solution is really right. With some engineering jobs, you can't do that.

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
Ok final example, I guess. When I first took a psychology class, I was thinking to myself, this is going to be so hard. But it was easy as pie for the most part.

To understand any theory, how anything worked, what steps can one after another, you can just draw analogues to your own experience. You can build analogues upon analogues upon analogues. You don't have to remember all of these. Just like math, in which you don't memorize every specific example that will be on the test, you just have to know, methods of coming up with the answer.

The hard part of psychology for me was questions like this: "Name the theory invented by (this guy) that explained (this random thing)" and the name has nothing to do with the random thing. Those things are hard.

Questions like this are easy: "Name the steps of operant conditioning" because you can just look back on your experience, and figure out what they are. Or if you just know what the end of operant conditioning is, an action, you can just think :"What would make me keep doing an action?" Instantly, many posibilities, and analogues come to mind. For example, getting a reward from playing the lottery would be an example. You can just test this in your mind. 1. Advertising for lotto influenced my mind 2. I had dream I won the lotto 3. I bought a scratch off and won $30 4. this was not as much as I won in my dream so I kept playing 5. I kept playing until all of the winnings were spent. On the last ticket, I won another ticket. Then, I got the ticket I won, thinking this is it. Snake eyes. What happened in my experience?

Positive reinforcement, variable ratio reinforcement, but at the end, projecting forward from the emerging pattern I saw that there would be negative punishment. The removal of money from my wallet was a downside of continuing the behavior.

and so I didn't have to study to get an A in that class. I just listened in class to whatever the teacher was saying and took notes to an experience I had that was similar enough that if I recalled it on the test I could come up with the right answer.

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

"what kindof things can I do with an engineering degree, by myself, which carries little risk, where I can come up with solutions in my own way, without any regard to how experts with the specific training come up with those solutions?"

Anything you could think of which fits those criteria, means anyone could do it, which means EVERYONE would do it, which means the law of supply versus demand dictates that there's no value in it.

You have to pay your dues. You have to get the experience. Short-cuts either don't work or get you in trouble. If that means you have to work for someone else for a few years to gain appropriate experience, so be it.

Do you know the phrase "you don't know what you don't know"?

The little robot cell that I mentioned above, was designed by someone who didn't know what they didn't know. The result was something that was not safe. Now that they've been shown how to do it, hopefully they know more the next time ... and hopefully the situation was handled with enough tact and diplomacy that I may have gained a future customer. Diplomacy is something else that requires experience. "You have no idea what you are doing", versus, "Hmm, that doesn't seem right. How can we fix this?"

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
^That all makes sense. Everything everyone has said here makes sense. I guess to come up with a job I would like, I'd have to make my own products, invention, or creation. In which case, it would be best to have some experience in a similar field to the thing I wanted to make. Even if it weren't, I'd need some capital for research, design, testing, etc.

I'm just the kindof guy, I guess, who hates doing the same thing twice.

With Psychology questions, you can just draw analogies to your own experience.

With math questions, you can make comparisons to what you know before, and build on these comparisons.

And there are analogies that fit many different areas of academics. Even many different disciplines.

Some people make disruptions in category after category. There were employees at apple like this that I heard about on NPR. They went from computers at some time, to designing the IPOD. They were techies, who enjoyed trying new technology, but that beginning excitement of getting the cutting edge device was always killed when they removed a product from the box, and had to charge it up for a few hours before using it. They came up with a plan to kill two birds with one stone. Since some hard drives are defective, they made a method of testing the hard drive once the IPOD was fully assembled. During testing, the battery charged and each customer got the experience of having something fully charged and ready to go out of the box. I find it fascinating that people can jump around from one area to another that is related in a way, and make an impact in two different areas. They never have to do the exact same job twice.

The general consensus seems to be after graduating, I will need to get charged out of the box before use. I can live with that. That is the experience with a lot of people. And it works. It doesn't have to be a related field, but it's better if it is. I understand that Christian von Koenigsegg, started his enterprise with money from being a frozen chicken broker. https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/videos/a2...

I'm just curious in this case what I can do to make money in a short time and get a sort of constant income stream. I'm guessing the typical out of college job, save $$$, buy a house when the market is down, rent it out, then I'd have the luxury of time to pursue other ideas. Looking at typical financial investments these days it doesn't seem like you can really get a lot of income from safe financial investments like CD's.

If I did a CD account with a full year's salary as a college graduate, I could get $4,000/year 25 years from now at current rates. The game plan here would be to put away lots of money for a few years.

I'm curious in these cases, how do you guys get to the point where you have the luxury of time to pursue your own ideas?

I see some great ideas on here, for example. But people say the typical "I'm working on this while working my full time job" kindof stuff. If you know someone who has the luxury of time to do whatever he wants, how did he get there?

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Why, oh why, do so many persons who are still in college, believe that their skill set is so unique, and /or better than the remaining population, that they believe that self employment is going to give them a living upon graduation??? This is despite the advice provided on forums such as this, and yet these individuals chose to argue as to why this advice is not relevant to their special, unique circumstances. I am seeing more and more of this behaviour and I despair for the future of engineering if this trait becomes increasingly widespread.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

One option, for someone who thinks they're too smart for books anyway, is to major in Computer Science, grab a job in Silicon Valley, pull in $200k/yr for 5 yrs, save every penny and at least semi-retire. There are bloggers that claim to have "retired" on about $300k total.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

"I'm curious in these cases, how do you guys get to the point where you have the luxury of time to pursue your own ideas?"

I graduated from mechanical engineering in 1991. I worked for "someone else" for 18 years before landing in a position where I make my own decisions. (Easing into semi-retirement now. Still working, just saying "no" more often.)

General caution about consulting-type work: Just because you don't have fixed 9-to-5 office hours doesn't mean you're not working. "Flexible hours - which 60 do you want to work this week?" is more often how it ends up. Yes, I could often be spotted during business hours out on my motorcycle or at a coffee shop de-stressing ... but that offsets answering emails and finishing up paperwork and writing up quotations at 10 PM, or answering emails when I'm supposed to be taking a vacation day, or getting up at 4 AM to catch a 6 AM flight somewhere for a meeting and then returning home past midnight. I've been accused of "always working".

And that's if your business is successful (as ours has been). If it's not successful, you're still spending that time, but now it's on trying to drum up business, or figuring out why others are getting the work that you're not. If you think it's stressful working overtime and getting paid for it, it's even more stressful working overtime and NOT getting paid for it.

There are lots of ways for an engineering firm to not be successful:
- Not having sufficient experience to back up what you are saying about engineering matters.
- Not having sufficient experience to be able to work efficiently AND accurately.
- Not having sufficient experience to know when to say "no".
- Not having sufficient experience to know how to deal with clients and keep them coming back for more.
- Not having sufficient experience to know what you don't know - and be able to admit it.
- Not having sufficient experience to respect client's budgets and schedules.

How do you get that experience?

You work for someone else for a while.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)

Quote (miningman)

Why, oh why, do so many persons who are still in college, believe that their skill set is so unique, and /or better than the remaining population, that they believe that self employment is going to give them a living upon graduation??? This is despite the advice provided on forums such as this, and yet these individuals chose to argue as to why this advice is not relevant to their special, unique circumstances. I am seeing more and more of this behaviour and I despair for the future of engineering if this trait becomes increasingly widespread.
Let me put it to you this way, unfortunately I have autism. I can do some things really good. But when I have a job, I really can not deal with workplace politics.

I am really good at some things, and I've been applying for part time jobs. I just have a really hard time making a good first impression on whoever is doing the interview. It seems very hard to land a job that requires you to leave a positive impression from talking.

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
so to put it another way: I dread leaving home every day. I don't go to the store, I utilize amazon.

I went to see some mental health professionals many years ago, and I told them my problems. It feels like anxiety when I have to talk to people. First I tried lots of anxiety drugs before finding one that helped, a little. Then they recommended therapists and psychologists since I still had symptoms.

When they told me I had autism, they told me I should just be happy because I'm good at math, and there's not much they could do because there's a lot less research out there on how to help adults. (They have some programs for adults, one called PEERS, but that's nowhere to be found around me)

So my hope and dreams is to get some kindof a job, probably from home, where I don't have to deal with people, office politics, and I don't really care how much money I make as long as it's enough.

Certainly with a degree, you can work from home and make enough money to pay a mortgage, keep your fridge stocked from Amazon fresh, keep the lights on, and everything else? Or am I pursuing the wrong degree?

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)

Quote (BrianPetersen)

General caution about consulting-type work: Just because you don't have fixed 9-to-5 office hours doesn't mean you're not working. "Flexible hours - which 60 do you want to work this week?"

That's already the kindof guy I am. When I worked on motorcycles, I was the mechanic who knew what I was going to be working on the next couple of days, and brought the service manuals home to study them. Your time spent at work is more productive, that way.

My highest salary doing that was 44K gross, so I think I've done 60 hour work weeks for a lot less $ than what I could do with a degree, possibly in consulting. Is that right? I think it should be easy to make more than 44K with a degree like this, no?

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

My sympathies for your autism condition. That adds a dimension that the rest of us were not aware of, on top of the challenges already mentioned.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

You mention you can't decide Electrical or mechanical. Which do you prefer the most? The problem with trying to work at home, outfits that are fussy about proprietary information will likely not go for that, nor any sort of secret work if it is for a government contractor. There are many jobs that can be done from home like the CNC programming, CAD, and most all computer programming. There has to be some outfits that wouldn't mind having a contract engineer working at home, it costs them less.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
Brian, I appreciate the sentiment, but I was really only looking for some understanding of why these goals are kindof what I prefer, if that makes sense.

Enginesrus, I'm currently in school for mechanical. Before I knew much about electrical it seemed the best choice for me. I like the down to earth-ness of just seeing things. My conundrum has arisen because with some more experience with electronics and some students who are in the electrical engineering program, I've learned you can see electrical things, you just need the right tools. Oscilloscopes, for example. Being able to see what was going on made it, exciting. I'll probably stick with mechanical, and I may decide to do both. I have spoken to an advisor and it would add two semesters and a little extra to get both degrees since some of the classes are not really interchangeable.

I realize the advice shouldn't really change based on my circumstances, that the idea there is an absolute and perfect solution to my life's troubles is unrealistic, and there are probably some alternatives to the solutions I've come to hold in high regard.

I've always done my best in these circumstances:
  1. smaller companies, small workgroups, preferably a little under 10, I did the best in 2 and 3 person work groups with under 10 people total employed there
  2. low turnover (I don't like getting acquainted with new people on a regular basis)and this sometimes happens at small companies that are good employers just because there's others nearby who offer higher salary
  3. no or little micromanagement. I prefer a list of things in the order they need to be done, and to kind of enjoy the silence of time to complete them
  4. not hearing much office chatter or background noise
  5. no large meetings
My job acquiring circumstances go like this:
  1. I do good in interviews where people know about the position
  2. Ex: when I was interviewed for the motorcycle mechanic position, the guy was an ex technician. He asked me questions like :"how many volts are in a 12 volt battery?" ofcourse the answer was 12.6, and he said so many people never got that right so he stopped asking tech questions, wrapped up the interview, and went onto the next guy
  3. EX where I didn't get the job: I recieved a personality test one time, and another time I was interviewed by someone who did all the hiring who knew nothing about the job and asked I guess other employment questions
I'm presuming that many engineering jobs at the larger companies where I might even work in smaller groups, the hiring is done by someone from HR.
I have heard that you can have someone call before hand and explain your strengths, and it tends to make them talk about these instead of the usual questions, and that might help. I also think it might work to start at a small place and if it's not going so well just being there explain I'd prefer to work from home.

If anyone else knows somebody with similar problems, how did they find things that worked best?

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

4
I would suggest reconsidering the possibility of computer science:
> immediate results and immediate changes
> relatively small teams, even within a larger company
> fewer interactions with other people required
> much more amenable to working at home, or remotely
> no PE license required for consulting
> lower startup costs for consulting -- much of the useful software is free

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
IRstuff, thanks for the tips! I'm going to look into that

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

With regard to the Mensa question, I have no idea how it would benefit you in your business endeavors.

My experience with Mensa is that Mensa exists to make Mensa members feel good about being in Mensa and provide an ego boost while within the hallowed congregations of Mensa. Once one steps outside of the Mensa circle, no one on planet Earth gives a s---.

Andrew H.
www.mototribology.com

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Quote:

I've learned the best people are self taught.

I heard that a LOT growing up in the family diesel shop and again working for others' as an adult for a decade before going to school for engineering. IME, 99% of folks that is said about don't really know dink nor are successful. The other 1% has quite a bit of education and experience in a closely related niche so suggesting they are "self-taught" is a bit of a misnomer.

Condolences on your issues but if its any consolation, most here will attest there are all manner of characters in engineering. I've never known any autistic engineers (not that I ask) but I'm sure I've worked with some. I did however work previously with a very well respected senior engineer who had Tourette's complete with yipping noises et all, which made for interesting presentations in our frequently large corporate meetings. Nice guy and proof that anything can be overcome. I've also worked in many offices that resembled an episode of the "Big Bang Theory" complete with comic relief due to clumsy, nerdy engineers.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Autism is a spectrum, as is psychopathy; up to some fraction of the worst-case, both can be found in any work environment. Supposedly, many CEOs are psychopaths, murdering in the business sense.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

As for the comment about Mensa, it's just a comment. Almost all social groups exist to make people feel good about themselves; why would anyone join a group to feel bad about themselves? Nevertheless, there are other reasons for joining such groups, such as a shared experience; just as I might join an engineering society to have a ready audience that immediately understands the ramifications of Biot's Law or constant brightness theorem.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

I realize I probably came off pretty hostile in my comment. I don't hold malice or anger toward Mensa. I just wanted to demystify it a bit as I find people don't often understand it is a group mainly focused on sharing brain teasers as far as I could tell from my brief experience with members of it. ponder

Andrew H.
www.mototribology.com

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Exactly, and belonging to a murder mystery club is equally unlikely to aid in the starting of a consulting business.

Andrew H.
www.mototribology.com

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
^I looked them up, mensa, they offer "special member credit card offers" and "insurance discounts", both of which probably are just benefits to them. The other benefits are minuscule. 100K scholarships to the whole united states per year. Supposedly they teach social skills. I looked up my local Mensa, it sounds just like a lot of middle aged to old people who want to feel special and enjoy nights out on the town with people as snobby as they are and guzzle fine wine at fancy restaurants with extremely high prices. At least that's what their schedule showed. And there's no mention of social skills anywhere. I'd probably get more out of the murder mystery club, atleast I wouldn't drain my wallet.

OK it was my understanding from reading a little of the advice here you couldn't really do consulting in the engineering line of work without some experience, or maybe even a license, correct? I haven't given up on engineering but I am looking into computer science.

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

A few thoughts on the experience of our 19yo, who has Asperger's and sounds very similar to you.

1) I suspect you like to ask questions, but typically you prefer to stick to a limited group of people who've earned your trust/respect, correct? And when setting out to research something, you'll be as exhaustive as possible - but preferably all stuff from the Internet, library, or your trusted mentors, correct?

2) I suspect you're averse to large groups of people, and probably deal poorly with conflict, noisy/confused situation's and places, and especially with attention-seeking personalities.

Our young bloke wasn't fortunate enough for us to be able to afford tertiary education for him. So, he's started with lower expectations, which may be a good thing sometimes! You have to be realistic; you could have an IQ of 200, but without good sales skills and social skills, it's going to be difficult to set up on your own and earn enough to survive straight off the bat.

Perhaps you could look at a more middling ground.
For example, I'm currently helping our boy to start his own business, for pretty much the same reasons as you. He's starting out small, with a lawnmower and a ute, offering garden work and transport of bulky objects such as fridges or soil. I'm holding his hand for the first few months and will step back as he gets more comfortable. Dealing with customers can be a huge challenge for anyone! You have the entitled customer, the cheaparse customer, the confused one who wants a thing but isn't sure what it is... then there's the angry customer. Maybe there was a small mistake. Maybe they just don't like the finished job even though it's exactly what was agreed on. Maybe they throw a tantrum when the job's done, trying to get a discount. School doesn't and can't prepare you for dealing with this sort of thing!
With your degree, you could possibly go a step higher. What about finding a smaller local business and seeing if you can add value?
For example; a local performance mechanic may be interested in having someone on staff who can do the engineering work to legally fit larger or different engines into cars or motorbikes. Or you could gain CNC experience in a local machine shop. Smaller places with smaller teams may be a more feasible starting point.
Of course, and I need to put a big red line under this - you need to legally be able to provide the work! Laws vary just between jurisdictions over there, and I'm not even in the same country, so my advice above should be taken with that in mind.

The others are right though, really - yes, you're smart, yes, you can do the job. But you're also young, and inexperienced. That will bite you. People's perceptions alone will bite you as a lone operator. You need contacts in the field and experience, and the only practical way to gain this is through working in the field. Established shops can provide you an excellent platform to launch from. Spend some time there, watch what others do. You can learn from the people around you, just like that engineer you were talking about with the cooling system. You learnt from her not doing as much as her doing, yes?
Or to put it another way - the wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

Bottom line is this. There's millions of other people out there with the same dream as you. You need to stand out from the crowd.
And the best way to do that is to get recognised. Get your name on work.
And the best, most risk-free, stress-free, and fastest way to do that is to attach yourself to someone else and share their resources to produce something, and use their experience dealing with people as both example and shield.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
Mongrel,

  1. This is spot on, and you are correct about research. I like to see it with my own eyes to believe it sometimes. FEA for example is much better for me than just doing the math.
    Sometimes when I'm told something won't work, I like to try just to see how it fails and get an idea
  2. correct
and when you put everything else the way you did, it makes a lot of sense. I'm going to try and find a small company before graduation so I have a plan and know what to expect.

I'm trying some basic computer programming as a hobby right now. I'm trying to get my computer to communicate over RS232 to an arduino to control led lights in a 3d printed brain and display EEG's but it's not working the best for me in comparison to other skills so I may not switch from mechanical to anything else.

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

I'm glad we were able to help. As we get older and focus on new problems, it can become easy to forget our youth. The combination of uncertainty about the future and complete confidence in yourself is something unique to your late teens/early twenties, for most people!
Regarding the control programming; if you're able to wrap your head around it, that can be an extremely useful addition to your mechanical engineering degree, and to several others since I remember you were contemplating switching?
In any case, it lends itself well to all sorts of automation control from equipment through robotics and into the more complicated engine control units. So it's definitely a useful skill to pick up.

I wish you well in the future!

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

hello,first of all I had read your whole situation and from my experience i can say that you have to gain some more experience in your field. Their are many problem to come in the beginning but you should never loss hope in the field you are , many people come and go but should stay positive in life for what you are doing. Many people leave their carrier because they don't see any growth in the field but sometime you should try harder.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Quote (michaelwoodcoc)

Let me put it to you this way, unfortunately I have autism

Most engineers are on the spectrum - that's why they call it engineering. But it not unfortunate, its a great gift to humanity. You don't put a lander on Mars by listening to your feelings. But yes, you do need to learn to navigate a social world as a highly rational person, including as a business owner. I strongly believe that Steve Jobs had Aspergers.

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

(OP)
I should probably start off by saying I view most of my problems as extremely humorous, and I actually laugh at them at this point in my life.

Quote (glass99)

Most engineers are on the spectrum - that's why they call it engineering. But it not unfortunate, its a great gift to humanity. You don't put a lander on Mars by listening to your feelings. But yes, you do need to learn to navigate a social world as a highly rational person, including as a business owner. I strongly believe that Steve Jobs had Aspergers.

I agree with all of those points there. Yy experience is this:
1. even among other engineering students, I'm not really accepted. I'm curious about this, they must know being on the spectrum is common in this line of work. There's this one guy in my classes who always invites me to join them and who I get along with, the other people I kindof get along with, but I"m not invited to anything they plan, and I don't really know what I'm doing wrong, but I'll say something and notice whatever I said produces silence.
2. probably is a gift to humanity, it's just kindof troubling to people who have it to realize one day that they don't have friends, partners, reciprocal relationships. It's hard to see it as a gift to yourself, rather than a shortcoming.
3. I agree on the feelings part, it's just so hard
4. I think you're right about Steve Jobs, and probably a few others have or had it. Bill gates? Elon Musk? it's not like they just tell us these things. But all of these people are very outgoing (except maybe bill gates) about the things they are interested in the most. I can sometimes do that concerning things I'm so interested in.

I'd really like to improve my social skills, but the only social skills groups near me are geared towards teenage girls. who in my experience, even the most quiet ones hardly need social skills training. Teenaged girls social problems seem to be created by clicks, rejection by said clicks, critizism of their looks by other girls, all things that don't usually involve social skill deficits I would imagine, but kindof mean social norms that are accepted here. I tried some social skills books, and that turned out quite humorous. I remember going to a teachers office hours, and saying one thing I learned from "emotional intelligence" as a start to the conversation, and just the reaction told me that the things I learned from the book were not a good idea for me to put into practice.

I find it puzzling that it took me (and others) so long to catch on to these problems. I should probably explain that I just found out about two problems over the summer. Bipolar & ASD.
Looking back whenever I felt depressed I normally blamed it on something like poor friendship quality, no friends, no social connections. So i seemed to have a good explanation every time.
Whenever I felt good I thought that was the way I was supposed to feel. I'd be more outgoing, but still didn't have social success. Mostly just interupted people as a result of thinking 10 miles a minute, interrupted math teachers when I found small errors in the way they taught things, did schoolwork well inadvance, performed pretty good at work, etc. Probably wrote half of these posts when feeling manic, for example, and very confident in my skills(also took IQ test when feeling manic). On the flip side, when feeling bad, I could go to a math teachers office hours, and make errors on the most basic maths and the teacher would say things like "comeon mike!" or I'd misunderstand the lesson because I'd missed one key detail or fact along the way. My note taking was so slow then, and I'd be the last one to leave class just to finish my notes.

One can imagine these patterns in the work place. Frequently hired when feeling good, told I'm an asset, whatever, then when feeling bad, I'm asked what's wrong, given poor evaulations, and fired or quit as a result. On top of dealing with the office politics which is always a weak point of mine, it just isn't such a good combination of factors. Since I just started treatment, things will probably get better, you can sort of tell these things, but I can never know for sure, until the treatment works and my next job, how I'll be able to integrate into a workplace based on my past employment history and problems.

There's a chinese saying, "may you live in interesting times", my life is quite interesting! There are a few things I wouldn't have any other way.

I make pocket money just designing and 3d printing things. I can design things pretty good when I feel good, and when I feel bad I just have to press a few buttons to get the stuff to come out, it's not labor intensive. It's also kindof a factor in my motivation to work for myself. It might be possible to work thru the ups and downs on stuff and still have income when feeling bad, rather than laid being off, fired, or quitting. Treatment will probably fix this to. probably won't be a factor in the future.

Engineering student. Electrical or mechanical, I can't decide!
Minoring in psychology

RE: Game plan to start my own little business out of college

Quote (michaelwoodcoc)

I should probably explain that I just found out about two problems over the summer. Bipolar & ASD

All I can tell you is keep pushing through this stuff and you will get there - read, get ideas, try them, adapt, repeat. People on the spectrum tend to deal with feelings in a rational way - for example, you learn to recognize when someone is upset, and you then know to not push things at that moment.

You are young so its an investment of a lifetime, and everyone on the planet has to figure this stuff out. Yeah girls are challenging, but sometimes the promise of a relationship is enough to push you to do the hard things.

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