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Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

(OP)
Need advice from fellow mechanical engineers who work in the maintenance field. I landed my first job as a maintenance engineer for a company that makes waterproofing products along other similar products. The only engineer here is the manager and all maintenance work is done by technicians. Their supervisor is a technician who worked here for more than 10 years. My work is basically technician work and I'm supposed to just do hands-on work and that's it. Is this normal? Or is this a really small company with no need for actual engineers?

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

Titles mean nothing. Experience is everything.

This early in your career you need to take stock on what direction you want to go. You need to be willing to go hungry to keep yourself pointed at where you want to be. Too many aspiring young engineers get sidetracked.

This is especially true if you want to design. If you want to design, get yourself into a spot where you are designing. Don't wait for it to magically happen.

Meanwhile, learn everything you can in your present position. Observe how your employer and your industry work. Get better at communicating and delivering.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

I think you should talk to your boss to understand their expectations from you. Your title and (I'm assuming) higher pay rate should mean you will be expected to do more/other things that require your engineering background.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

(OP)
My boss has been the maintenance and production manager for 30 years here. I did talk to him and he said that when he first started he did everything from cleaning the workshop to getting his hands dirty with oil and grease. He thinks that I should do this kind of work now and I should "follow" the supervising technician and learn from him because apparently he's responsible for all maintenance tasks.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

I wouldn't say it's normal to basically work as a technician (unless you're training, in which case that's not unheard of and a generally good thing), but I could be wrong since I haven't worked at too many different places. Whether it's normal or not is less important than if you're ok with it, which is something only you can decide. As a follow up though, have you been explicitly told not to do anything beyond hands on work, or do you have the opportunity to take a step back and do some more big picture stuff? Ideally, at some point you should be starting to look at doing things like reducing maintenance related downtime, better predicting machine failures (and therefore preventing surprise breakdowns), reducing the time or resources needed for a frequent maintenance task, etc. The hands on work you're doing and any relationships you make with the technicians will be very helpful with this, both in helping you identify the problems to focus your attention on as well as being able to ask technicians for help with any aspect of solving the problem(s). Having said that, if you feel like you're being pigeonholed into a career path that you don't want, or your company keeps you as a glorified technician and not an actual maintenance engineer, learn all you can while also finding another job.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

As mentioned, theres a huge difference between familiarizing yourself with the plant and working in the plant. Its not uncommon for engineers to work the plant a few days as a means of familiarizing themselves but it doesnt take a month to get an overview of each line. I would recommend listing out major job duties and the percentage of your time that each entails, then trying to figure out how that might change over the next year or two. Its not uncommon for maintenance/manufacturing engineers to wear a variety of non-engineering hats including supervising (ie HR tasks) techs but most of your time should be some form of engineering, esp while you're young and learning.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

You need to have a conversation of how your career can progress at this company and determine if that's in line with your goals. It may be that the only path available is what your manager followed, maybe he will be open to you making your own path if you show it's value, maybe there is no outlined path and you'll be at the whim of fate - you should figure out what your situation is. Your first few years will always be centered around learning many different things (soft and technical skills) , but there should be a theme centered around what you're interested in throughout that time.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

Zuko88:

When did you start on this job? If you starteda couple of weeks ago, then at this stage I wouldn't sweat over it, try to learn as much as you can.
If it is your second year on the job and the only thing you do is tech work and following the supervisor, then maybe you have to start weighing in your options and see what you want to do with your career.

Up to now, I've worked in maintenance basically my entire career (from SMEs at the start, up to a multibillion corporation now and from chemical/pharma to hospitality) and I can tell you that a big portion of my work is non-engineering related.

Finally, you have to see if a waterproofing company is the best fit for a young mechanical engineer that wants to "engineer".


Good luck and don't overthink things.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

Small companies the lines get blurred. Even in larger companies I’ve worked at I wonder why do they pay a degreed engineer to do non engineering work, when anyone could fill the roll. But I’m not complaining most days, I’ll be excel jockey for big bucks all day. But like The Tick recommended, if you want a particular career direction you have to jump on it. Every job I had, engineering and non engineering has built off the next. I did not do a good job of vectoring my career direction early on, but I’m starting to now. Still early career for me.
Good luck with everything , keep us posted.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

You said that your boss has been there 30 years. He told you that he has you doing what he did when he started. Is he possibly grooming you as his replacement?

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

Are you happy with the work you're doing as a technician? Does it pay well enough (including in the future with raises) that it meets your standards? If so; continue on. If not happy with the work and pay, probably time to move on.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

My work is basically technician work and I'm supposed to just do hands-on work and that's it. Is this normal? 

LOL! It can be pretty normal, especially at a smaller company. If "maintenance" is in the job description, then nothing else in the description is meaningful. You will be up to your elbows in grease much of the time, because keeping a machine running will always be more important than anything else you'd prefer to do.

Advice from a guy in my industry from years ago: "Don't let them turn you into the World's Most Expensive Maintenance Man!"

Because a lot of companies will do just that.

Obstacles cannot crush me; every obstacle yields to Stern Resolve.

RE: Mechanical Engineer job title with no actual engineering

To answer your question, yes, in the first job ever, it can normal to do basic items that not related to your field of study. My first job as a "design engineer" had no design work. It was boring detailing work. I was so frustrated as I expected exciting challenges to work on. When I went to complain to my boss and told him how I was doing silly print updates - materials, callouts, specs etc. He asked me "Do you understand the various symbols or details, specs etc that you are being asked to add?" I said no. He said, "Has anyone stopped you from learning what those specs mean? Callout means?
What the part is used for? etc etc". That was eye opening for me. Options for learning are a plenty. So as others have said, learn while you are here.

I will however add that if you could create an ideal job what industry, what company and what type of role would that be? This is a profound question and very difficult one at that. But if you can answer that, you can create what you want rather than being in a role that comes your way by default. Life is too short and you don't want your career to be defined by some random job/line of work that fell in your lap but you don't like. Once you have 3-4 years of experience your next job will likely be in the same line of work. So choose wisely

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