Thoughts on the Engineering Industry

A blog covering engineering, technology and business topics

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

How to Apply the Concept of Idealism to your Career

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Hello, I hope everyone’s week is going well.  Having finished up graduate school paperwork for the summer, I’m feeling a bit more motivated in pursuing other things like blogging and volunteer engineering.  Who knows…maybe I’ll find a job if I get really lucky.  Today I wanted to talk about idealism and core values in building up your career.  I got this idea from reading an article about how the top 50 companies in the world do this well.  In the article, it goes into further detail on two main components of applying idealism and core values that I see a lot of people with good careers pursue as well.

The first concept is that money – and the article doesn’t say it specifically but I would include power as well – doesn’t connect directly with the idealism of the company.  The most common way of looking at it is in the negative context, don’t sell out your ideals to make money.  But upon further reflection, I believe it is better to view in this in a more positive aspect – pursue your ideals in a profitable and sustainable way.  That is the hallmark of a successful career in my opinion.  All the people I have met that are successful in their jobs have found a way to pursue their passion and ideals in a job (within a company or on their own) to earn enough money to make themselves happy.  And along with that, they always make sure that this is currently being accomplished and maintainable in the foreseeable future.

The second concept is to make sure your ideals are a being applied in a way that intersects with a need in the cultural/market situation.  The example that the article gave was that Louis Vuitton; their ideal is to make travel luxurious and they pursue it by turning life into an “exceptional trip” since there has been a decrease in travel lately.  The same thing can be said about great careers.  Someone may have impeccable ideals, skills to pursue it and theoretically been able to make money by doing that at some point.  If the market has moved or companies aren’t looking to hire in that area, it will be hard to find a job doing that.  Instead, it would be more beneficial to try and fulfill a need that currently exists that aligns with your ideals and skills.

Having read that article, it’s something that I am going to try and apply to my career goals.  I feel like it’s a bit easier for us engineers to do than some other careers, but I still see some of my friends struggle with it.  Do you think you do good job of applying this in your career?  If so, what aspects do you focus on more – core ideals or finding a niche you enjoy?  Do you think people in general do a good job of applying this concept?  I hope everyone has a good week. 🙂

Are you afraid of taking risks in your career?

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Hello.  I hope everyone is doing well.  Nothing much has changed for me in school/work.  It’s been going well though, actually starting to get into swing of being a tutor.  I enjoy it as a part time job a lot, so it something I will consider doing while I do graduate school if possible.

Today, I wanted to talk about taking risk in your career.  I recently read an article (http://tinyurl.com/cbkgwkv) and it talks about how happiness and attitude are more important than reducing risk.  I wanted to go a little bit different route than this though.  There is an aspect of this that isn’t addressed much and that is the psychological concept of truly embracing risk.

In a career, a lot people think about working for a company for 3 – 5 years minimum, being successful at it, and making money/being of value to the company.   And there are people that do need to fill those jobs – I’m not trying to demean that in any way if you are happy doing that.   There seems to be something lacking in that mindset for me though – there is a lack of a true challenge or need to be creative/innovative.  And I wonder if it’s a fear of risk in careers.  Everyone wants to have a solid income and not wonder where their next pay check is going to come from.  The logical extension of this would be that if you are part of the group that needs to be creative/innovative there is less stability in what you do, leading to the next question “What happens if….”.  There can be scary answers if stability in income is a big concern for you.

Now I’m not saying that it’s wrong to worry about this.  Everyone needs to make money and be able to afford food, housing, etc., but I wonder if we get too caught up in this sometimes.   For example, if you have a chance at two different jobs, one is something you would truly enjoy but the other makes considerably more money.  Would you feel guilty about not taking the money because you crave that security?  If we apply the “What happens if…”, would you be more willing to sacrifice enjoyment for money to feel better about the question “What happens if I am not financially secure?” or sacrifice the money to feel better about the question “What happens if I am not happy with my job?”.   I think this is the essence of embracing risk in your career.   Yes, happiness and attitude are important; but an important first step is to be able to analyze job/financial security concerns in a healthy way.

What is your opinion?  Is job security high on your list of priorities?  How about financial security?  Does this attitude prevent you from taking risk you wish you could take?  I would be interested to hear your opinions so if you have something to add leave a comment below.  Have a good week!

Maintaining the Optimum Workspace

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Hello everyone! Everything is going well.  Still pounding away at the job hunt thing but now I have an idea of what I want to do.  I’ll still look for engineering stuff but this week I have registered at a website that acts as an online tutoring service.  I haven’t gotten any jobs yet but the pay is really good with a low amount of hours; if I can get rolling with this and get back into school it’s what I would like to do.  If not it will give me time to job search, which will be good since it will take longer take actually find and engineering job.  Hope everything is going good with ya’ll.

Today I wanted to do a shorter post where I talk about the evolution of my optimum work space organization throughout the years.  At first, when I was in high school and it was very much a cluttered, unorganized, everything laid out in the open type space.  My thought process being that it was more important to get the work done and not spend excessive amounts of time organizing stuff.  Then as I went to Texas A&M I gradually changed to the organized method, but cleanliness and the detailed arrangement were still not a high priority.  The reason is that I wanted be nice to my roommate and not everything on my side of the room look like a complete mess.  Now I almost always have a clean space and everything is in its designated spot if I am not currently using it.  If it isn’t, it is very hard to focus and I will almost always feel less productive.  I have also grown to love having natural light if at all possible.  As an engineering student, everyone always assumes I’ve been like this all through high school and college.  That is the general view of engineers so I won’t blame them there lol.

What is your work space like?  Do have a certain way you like it organized or does it matter?  Has it changed over the years?  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  Have a good week.

Design Purpose: Abstract vs. Practical

Hello everyone, I hope your week has gone well.  I’ve spent most of the week researching summer work and engineering opportunities so I feel like I know where I want to start looking for work leads.  Now I’m just going to relax this weekend and get to the job hunting Monday.

Today I wanted to talk about something that I am sure a lot of engineers have thought about over the course of their career and that is design purpose.  Every engineer knows a joke or two poking fun at architects not making practical designs and stuff like that.  But the truth is that architects are important when incorporating aesthetics into the design process, because most engineers wouldn’t be so good at that.  I like to think that I’m good at embracing both elements and even dabble in the “idea” of architecture by sketching ideas I have for cool building concepts.  That being said, I know that I wouldn’t be any good as an architect because that’s clearly not what I’m skilled at; but it is fun way for me to stretch my brain muscles a bit.

I was wondering what the general opinion was on applying this in practice though.  For me, I feel like a little creativity is good.  If it were up to most engineers, I believe it would simple, safe and sturdy designs.  And that abstract concept in the design makes our structures more enjoyable.  I believe that’s an important part of it because the enjoyment factor for the end user needs to be considered.  But then there are some things I see that take it a bit too far.  For example, I saw a concept for a carbon production unit in CE Magazine.  The idea was that it would be a platform that floated off shore and would serve as a self-sustaining underwater and above water plant growing structure.  I just couldn’t help thinking that there a dozen more efficient ways of accomplishing that.  It looked really cool though; and along with that, I could see it being cool to an architect because it had a great aesthetic too it.  For the most part though, I feel like I lean slightly towards the abstract side in comparison to the common practice in structural engineering right now.  And my opinion about the industry aligns with that accordingly; so if I had any influence I would be pushing for innovations that use an abstract concept, but I would also make sure there is a practical application or purpose for it.

What is your opinion on this?  Do you have a preference or are you indifferent on the subject?  If so, is it just a personal preference or are there changes that need to be made in the industry right now?  Have a good weekend.

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