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Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

I am interested to know which industry fielding mechanical engineers would have the least regulatory oversight.

The university I attended was very heavy on theory and taught absolutely nothing with regard to laws, rules, standards, etc. It makes sense that this would not be taught from a science standpoint because I am finding many standards have errors and are born of misperceptions. Laws are even worse in that they are so influenced by politics. An inspector can come on a job, spout some nonsense, and hold up the schedule until we pour through thousands of pages of rules and regulations to prove them wrong. The worst is when the requirement is totally made up, they can't cite the source, but retain the power cost us time and money. Once proven wrong, there seems to be no way to hold them accountable for losses.

I've been in engineering for 15 years, licensed for 9, and frankly, I am tired of playing discount lawyer to fight incompetent regulatory inspectors who like to play discount engineer.

Can anyone recommend an industry where an engineer can focus on engineering or do I need to get out all together?

I used to count sand. Now I don't count at all.

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RE: Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

I'm a Structural and I'm going the free-lance off road vehicle design route. We have a big off road interest here in San Diego and I've been designing parts for shops that build cars. I design with Risa (my personally owned copy) and classical mechanics, then test everything to failure. I've been designing sort of to seismic codes because their intent is similar: Don't yield to the everyday bumps but yield a lot when the big one hits/one hits the big one. Yep, A325 tension control bolts fasten the suspension bits. Otherwise the only "Code" I follow is a rough road. But a real rough road with very strict enforcement.

Liability, yes, but I purposely design for failure, so that helps. There is a negative cash flow till one of your ideas beats the next guy. Then someone steals it. I guess the real pay is the test ride in a fast car.

RE: Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

As far as I know, the Industrial sector seems to have less outside interference than Government, Commercial or Residential. But even industrial has inspectors that may not know what they are doing. Big difference in a local/state inspector versus a hired-gun type.

RE: Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

As a mechanical engineer the only time I've had issues with regulators was regarding environmental stuff for things like underground tanks.

Aside from that, I haven't experienced too many inspectors demanding things be done differently. There was one instance of an inspector instructing us to add a relief valve on a system that was protected by design; it was an annoyance but not a big deal.

RE: Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

Part of the inspector solution (but not always complete) is to have the inspector provide page and paragraph and sign his name to it. If you are looking for mechanical codes, you might look at the California Mechanical Codes as well their electrical codes. Some of your complaints are problems in the hospital codes - where a code gets changed after the building is partially constructed and the inspector wants the latest code enforced - but which might be a least one code cycle back. Happens. Keep good records. Pay attention to the contract and the specifications. Know what you have to do and what someone else has to do. Sorry about what you didn't get in school.
On the other hand I've had good inspectors that picked up really important situations. They are really the last line of defense.

RE: Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

Are you engineering for a small business or a mega-corp? Within a small business you're more likely to deal directly with the regulators, within mega-corps its a rare event unless you choose to specialize in regulatory compliance or are developing technology that drives new regulation.

From an industry standpoint, building construction is by far the least regulated IME.


Otherwise the only "Code" I follow is a rough road.

JMO but I wouldn't advertise the fact that you're ignoring a ton of safety and other regulation.

RE: Mechanical Field with Minimal Regulation

One example of almost completely unregulated mechanical engineering is designing gear for other companies, such as this-


Obviously there are OH&S requirements, all shafts have to be guarded and no outrageously dangerous chemicals are used. You also have to be able to make it safely. But there's very little regulation and no inspections involved.


Greg Locock

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