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Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

(OP)
Since this seems like a non-technical thread, I'll post here.

I always hear from the all-knowing engineering greybeards employed by very technical companies that engineering used to be much more hands on, bustling on the shop floor kind of work (perhaps implying that the new norm of cubicle paper pushing is not REAL work). My contention is that they are observing only their own career progression from the trenches up to the management ivory tower and not witnessing some unique shift in the engineering world. It seems like most major companies still have some type of rotational hands-on program for recent college graduates. Curious to hear thoughts from the seasoned veteran crowd.

----------------------------------
Not making a decision is a decision in itself

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

Those that can, 'do'. Those that can't, 'push paper'...

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

csk62,

As a grey-bearded older guy, I claim that the requirement for hands-on depends on the type of engineering you do, and the process and culture of your workplace. As senior people, we may regard hands-on work as valuable experience for our junior people to acquire.

--
JHG

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

I think to effectively push paper, you have to have a good understanding of the work and this comes from a hands on approach.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

Plenty of gray around the edges here (but good genes are keeping most of my color, so far)... paper pushing happens everywhere, but it also depends upon what you do. As a hardware design engineer, I still roll up my sleeves and grab the ol' soldering iron, lay down some o'scope probes, bit-bang some code, etc. But, technology allows (requires?) me to spend more time simulating before building, analyzing before guessing, documenting before shipping, etc... some may view that as "paper pushing" since I'm not running around the lab frantic things aren't working the way I intended. So be it... but I bet I get more work done these days than I ever did (once the REAL paper pushers get out of my way).

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

I’ve heard similar many times, usually from folks who had an army of draftsmen and/or CAD designers to do the first 95% of the design during their formative years and aren’t at all “hands-on” in the office today.

IME opportunity depends more on the company and individual than anything. If you want opportunity and your employer isn’t providing then it’s time to find another. Personally I’ve never lacked hands-on opportunities despite always working for mid - mega sized corporations and always being in design or analytical roles rather than test or manufacturing.

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

Welcome to geotechnical engineering now get out there and stand next to a drill rig or excavator or watch a construction project as the engineering rep. Perform these tasks in the field and write down the results.

In my experience the engineering paper pushing doesn't occur in geotechnical engineering until practical field experience has been acquired.

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

(OP)
I'm not saying we all didn't do field work starting fresh out of college, but by jove some of these older guys make it seem like they went out alone in Timbuktu with an angle grinder in the dead of summer before they were allowed to sit in the air conditioned cubicle farm. I suspect their experiences were really not that different than today.

----------------------------------
Not making a decision is a decision in itself

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

I think the shift is that business and industry has decided to live with the costs/consequences of the virtual design process - most of the time stuff works when it is designed by someone sitting in an office. More resources are dedicated to areas that become problematic. It also depends on the contents of one's personal bag of hammers. I have the older-style hammers in my pouch.

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

I started in high school, carrying a rod for a sutvey, doing the master layout, and contour plots, distributing the errors from the survey, and contributing a few details along the way, for a motel that has been in business for decades. I wasn't allowed as much autonomy until I had been out of college for several decades, and had tried several trades other than civil engineering.

I ended up with a very mismatched set of hammers, and no clue about how entry is done now.

Mike Halloran
Corinth, NY, USA

RE: Evolution of Engineering Paper Pushers

(OP)
I just learned that my company is planning to train all future prospective field technicians using virtual reality software, which presumably tells people how to operate valves and when etc. Its an interesting departure from showing people in person what physical actions are required etc and will be interesting to see how well it can replicate a real world scenario. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes the norm in the nesr future.

----------------------------------
Not making a decision is a decision in itself

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