6 responses to “Unit of Success for an Engineer”

  1. riven

    From the research in industry point of view, I only care about pilot scale and beyond. A sucessful event/test/experiment for me is measured in ‘000m3 and in timescales of months-years. Taking a number of large plants, re-comissioning them and then have them running would be my sucesses. Not much else really matters until this scale.
    Things like performance review means nothing to me unless you can reciprocate and do the same on the person giving you the review.

  2. GEARS

    My only measure of success is if I’m happy doing a particular thing. Publishing, mentoring, teaching, writing proposals, etc. are all things I have to do but when they’re done, in in the case of a student doing good work, it makes me happy.

    Same could be said for stuff outside of work. Clean up after a home cooked meal is a pain but the meal makes me happy. Same for exercise and running. Nobody in their right mind likes running 5 miles but they probably feel happier after doing so…

  3. FrauTech

    Performance reviews, autonomy over projects, feedback and involvement from higher ups, promotions, and pay are all what I’ve seen make employees in industry happier. Thanks to this recession people have seen raises cut back, performance reviews probably knocked down (so there’s a valid excuse for lower raises), and more and more work shoveled on to employees without their say-so. I’d say engineers like to be promoted. Not necessarily into management, but I think most like recognition for their hard work and feel like a promotion recognizes that. I haven’t seen too many shying away from being leads or managing others on certain projects. But it can be frustrating when you don’t get those opportunities, or if you do it’s without your input and with no additional compensation.

  4. Bill

    I think any project that teaches me something is a success. An R&D project itself may be a complete failure, but still be successful in providing new insight or knowledge about a certain technology.

    That being said, projects that work to somehow improve things, make them more efficient, lower cost, higher quality, etc. bring the greatest feeling of success.

  5. Hugo

    The true measurement of success IMHO is happiness. It is for each of us to look within and determine what makes us happy about our careers. Personally, I thrive whenever I can help others with their technical problems.

    Granted, we must all perform, meet project deadlines, specifications, objectives, financial requirements, etc. But there are few things that I enjoy more than making other people happy. Nothing makes my day more than making a small project work (a blackbox, a broadcast feed or a fixed piece of hardware) and giving it to the person that asked me for my help. The look on somebody’s face when you solve their technical problems is priceless.

  6. An old engineer

    Difficult question to answer. For me, it was when I passed my professional mechanical engineer license exam. I don’t know if it’s different now, but back in the day, you could not professionally call yourself a “engineer” unless you had passed the license exam (not the EIT). That was true regardless of your education, background, etc.

    Since ’70s, the title of “engineer” has been bastardized so that it doesn’t mean as much as it used to. I find it hard to read “domestic engineer” (house wife) or “santitary engineer” (garbage man) in the newspapers.

    Granted, most engineering jobs nowdays don’t require a license to do professional quality work. But, it was interesting when I was interviewing for a position years ago and the HR commented that I was one of those “real engineers” and all she needed to know was what CAD system I could operate.