No one person’s engineering job is like someone else’s. I know many of the electrical engineers in this community spend a lot of time in their labs or at the bench. Being an engineer seems to be its own batch of challenges and opportunities but many aspects of the job wax and wane between a more hands on technician role or a very hands off project lead role.
Despite working at a large company my role can be confusing at times. One would think with plenty of qualified technicians to work on the bench, and plenty more qualified programs and management folks to support the paperwork and planning side, that an engineer would get a nice rounded role. As in, maybe we could actually do our job. But so often you’re pulled into going to Home Depot to pick up that set of hardware that your multi-billion dollar business just doesn’t have on hand and needs today. Or you’re in the lab trying to figure out why the thing is shooting fuel everywhere only to discover someone didn’t properly inspect the o-rings or torque a hose fitting.
Then the next day you’re being asked to do cost accounting on a project or put together the work statement and proposal for the production implementation of some R&D widget you designed several years ago. It seems like it always comes back to engineering. The time you’d like to be spending doing your FEA analysis is done creating and updating a tracking spreadsheet for another department. The time you need to be doing your layouts or writing a test plan is spent trying to determine whether a chip on something is an actual defect or just leftover from machining the part.
Manufacturing, planning, and the project folks will always figure out a way to pass the buck back to the engineer. So you never get to be a pure engineer except in very rare cases, and not even where you’re surrounded by enough specialists in other areas that you’d think it would be more likely. What has your experience been, do you waste more time doing what a technician should be doing or what a project manager should be doing? (Photo credit here)