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The best engineer
12

The best engineer

The best engineer

2
(OP)
A long time ago one of my teachers told me:"To become a great engineer you should not know everything, you should know where to find everything" and I think that this statement is undisputed.
What do you think of it?

RE: The best engineer

I dispute it. If you know nothing more than where to find an answer, you'll have to look up the same answer over and over again when repeatedly faced with the same question. This will happen with every question you ever face. What a complete and utter waste of time.

xnuke
"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: The best engineer

3
To be functional, there are things you just need to know. I sure as heck didn't look up how to operate my coffee maker this morning.

There's a balance--things you know; things you can find; things you know that you don't know

RE: The best engineer

2
Story of unknown validity:

Henry Ford was once asked if he thought of himself as a smart man. He said he did. They then asked him what the square root of some large number was. His response: I do not know. If I wanted to know, I would find somebody that did know and they would tell me. Then, I would know.

We know what we know, but we have to acknowledge what we do not know. That is when we need to know how to find the answer.

As an engineer, I do not commit the endless formulas for my tasks to memory. I know which books contain them on my bookshelf, when I need to look them up.

RE: The best engineer

Which is why they let you bring reference materials when you take your PE exams. If they were ONLY testing how smart you were, they'd ban everything except #2 pencils.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: The best engineer

I agree, TigerGuy. xnuke took it to the absurd extreme (I'm also an ex-Nuke EM so I get it). This idea is that you thoroughly know your profession. I can explain the fundamentals of structural engineering without consulting a library, and can do most basic design and analysis tasks from memory. But if I need to "get into the weeds"...I know where to find the detailed information to handle it or I know who to call if it's really a specialist's sort of question.

RE: The best engineer

I definitely agree with phamENG. There is great value in experience that allows me as an engineer to know the basics without looking up details. For example, I am familiar with the basics of an electrical load analysis for the aircraft on which I am qualified to review and approve the analysis. However, I will always, always, always look up the source data for every detail, load value, flight condition, electrical buss, etc., before approving any specific analysis. I have full confidence I know the process but I still check every piece of source data. I can recall far too many times I would be in the middle of such a validation, thinking to myself, "This is probably a waste of time" and then suddenly noting a bit of source data that was NOT what I expected to see.

RE: The best engineer

"Knowing" is definitely going to become less and less prevalent with open-access to so much information. It's even manifesting in the NCEES Professional Engineering Exams, which are going "closed book" this year, and going forward. All necessary textbooks will be provided in electronic format at the testing site. I feel like the ability to "ctrl-F" and immediately find a topic cheapens the studying and tabbing I did all those years ago.

RE: The best engineer

Spot on

RE: The best engineer

To be the best engineer: Conceptual understanding of the current research and state of practice in you field; decades of practical experience; intuition and an ability to understand the big picture as well as the small. Willingness to accept that the current state of practice is imperfect but nevertheless things must be built and problems must be solved. I don't think you need to have every formulae memorised but if you don't understand things conceptually you aren't going anywhere.

RE: The best engineer

I think that just knowing your subject's basics inside and out is enough. You would be surprised by how many people can't read a paper or do proper investigations and research. The PE exam, I thought was more of a litmus test for people who can't answer a question in a timely manner and therefore would struggle badly with anything they had to teach themselves that had depth. The PE in the exam in the U.S. is 8 hours long, two 4 hour segments for morning and afternoon. The exam can easily be done in 2-3 hours by anyone that knows their material. I brought a graphic novel as a joke and ending up spending about 4 hours reading it. I bought 4 reference books and only opened 3 of them. Some brought wagons of books. I can guarantee those who did that are unable to answer a question quickly or much able to eliminate the bad answers on a multiple choice exam would struggle checking their own work.

RE: The best engineer

Quote:

"To become a great engineer you should not know everything, you should know where HOW to find everything"

Fixed it.

There's another that's a bit better IMHO, something to the effect of "Good engineering isnt finding a formula in a book, its finding the correct answer from experience." I've heard it called consultant's cliche but is true of all desk jockeys - without testing experience you dont realize how wrong you are.

RE: The best engineer

"Calculus would be painful if you had to look up the methods and solutions every time."

Not for me. I've never once had to use it in 45 years of engineering practice with hundreds of successful machines and several patents under my belt. I understand that it was a critical tool in the original development of the formulas and equations that I use, but it has never been a factor in my work.


Thank God!!!!

RE: The best engineer

Fud-4-Thot... a diversion into a typical aero-career question, answered with some new twists...

Occasionally we in Aero, have new or about-to-be-graduate-level students... and sometimes 'struggling' working engineers... asking for 'best technical tools and resources and [?] how to get-ahead in their jobs and in our line-of-work.' [my paraphrase]

Here is a typical question recently posed to us... and our somewhat 'different' perspective to this guy...

https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=489875
best tools - more used (useful) tools
Hello everyone, My name is Gibran and I'm Aerospace Engineering student. My question is: what is the most useful tools (software, methodology and etc) to start to project aircrafts.
And what the job market wants in a engineer.


Most of us older guys, realize that honestly earning an engineering degree means 'you're smart enough to do the work and adapt' to new/changing/evolving tools and methods. Engineering is the easy part... get into the 'flow-and-go'. However...

Replies in this thread from some of us 'older engineers' had some serious/philosophical observations/recommendations from the most-important human-factors perspective.

Regards, Wil Taylor
o Trust - But Verify!
o We believe to be true what we prefer to be true. [Unknown]
o For those who believe, no proof is required; for those who cannot believe, no proof is possible. [variation,Stuart Chase]
o Unfortunately, in science what You 'believe' is irrelevant. ["Orion", Homebuiltairplanes.com forum]

RE: The best engineer

FYI, if you copy and paste the thread ID, just below the title of a thread, like "thread 16-489875" the site software will replace it with the thread ID and title, ala
thread16-489875: best tools - more used (useful) tools

I inserted a space in that first thread ID to stop the SW from doing its thing

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: The best engineer

IR... OK Duhhhh… I just learned something 'new-old' today! Thank You Sir!

Regards, Wil Taylor
o Trust - But Verify!
o We believe to be true what we prefer to be true. [Unknown]
o For those who believe, no proof is required; for those who cannot believe, no proof is possible. [variation,Stuart Chase]
o Unfortunately, in science what You 'believe' is irrelevant. ["Orion", Homebuiltairplanes.com forum]

RE: The best engineer

It's fine not to have memorised every equation you use, but when you look it up, you do need to know how to apply it.

RE: The best engineer

Quote (Kevin Hall)

A long time ago one of my teachers told me:"To become a great engineer you should not know everything, you should know where to find everything" and I think that this statement is undisputed.

I tend to find bumper sticker length sayings have a lot of holes in them once you start really thinking about them. Here are some for this topic.

-I only need to know where to find the answer? I would think you would need to add to that the ability to read, comprehend and apply the information once you know where to look. But if all I need to be a good engineer is where it is at, I guess that is easier. Just a game of information hide-and-seek.
-The person who gave this advice, I bet they had to live and work by this concept. Were they a "great engineer"?
-"you should not know everything" is kind of poor advice. If someone was capable of knowing everything or even knowing a lot, we are advising them to stop and change to just knowing where to look?
-Where do you look when you have all the data and information, but you must now make some kind of decision, or create something new?
-A person with the best database on where information is kept but does not know what F=ma means, is the world's greatest engineer. Damn that Dewey Decimal system. It has always been my downfall.
-I bet people will dispute what undisputed means? Does it mean no one has ever disputed this statement? Does it means that all disputes were found to be baseless?

Here's another saying I think is undisputed. "There are 3 kinds of people in this world. Those that can count and those that can't."

RE: The best engineer

One can consider the other logical formulations of the saying to see that it's a necessary, but not necessarily sufficient condition; i.e., not being a excellent finder makes it unlikely that one is a excellent engineer.

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: The best engineer

Greg-isn't that still just 3 "know binary and don't". Is that called Trinary?

RE: The best engineer

Ternary, actually; had a coworker who was an a**hole and they liked to glom onto the latest buzzwords, and ternary logic was a buzzy thing for a few years in the early/mid 80s. When they announced their imminent departure; we had huge farewell party, but for some reason their invitation got lost winky smile

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: The best engineer

Seems to me that this thread was (once again) hijacked with over thinking and expanded definitions.

The intent of the quote is sound. Just because you do not know everything, does not mean you know nothing. People taking the message of this saying as "you don't have to know anything" are the people that may not get any real work done because they spend so much time twisting and contorting anything and everything just to prove what an innovative thinker they are.

You don' have to know everything, but you should know where to find this information. I do not have the formula memorized, but I know how to find the formula, I know how to define the variables and I know how to solve the equation once I set it up.

That is the intent of the message.

Stop over thinking it.

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