CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®

Previous in Forum: "Ia" and "Ib" Difference in Intrinsically Safe Designation   Next in Forum: Honeywell DCS
Close

Comments Format:






Close

Subscribe to Discussion:

CR4 allows you to "subscribe" to a discussion
so that you can be notified of new comments to
the discussion via email.

Close

Rating Vote:







24 comments
Member

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 8

Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

06/30/2010 3:27 PM

Hi

I thought I will bring up this topic as my first post here. There don't seem to be many engineering degrees offered in instrumentation (not in Canada at least). So far I have seen engineers from different background (education wise) in this field. I myself am an electrical engineer by degree (2 years since graduation), but have spend 3 years already in instrumentation field.

I am wondering if there are others in similar position as mine. It seems that nothing much from my education background helps me here and I have to learn a lot of things from scratch which Instrumentation Technicians know as part of there 2 year diplomas.

How have you guys coped up with similar situations? How do you enhance your technical knowledge?

PS: I am currently half way through my part-time Masters in Electrical Engineering.

Regards

Register to Reply
Pathfinder Tags: electrical instrumentation relevant degree
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru
Panama - Member - New Member Hobbies - CNC - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Panama
Posts: 4296
Good Answers: 213
#1

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 12:39 AM

Not only is "Instrumentation" a very, very broad topic, the required knowledge base is a moving target. One should pay attention to the extensive documentation most manufacturers in the field make available- from basic measurement concepts to device-specific promo literature.

I myself have a background in Mechanical Engineering. Over the many years I have been practicing, all too often I have become the instrumentation engineer by default...Not because I was any more knowledgeable than other participants, but more because I was willing to do the research to determine the appropriate approach (IF the appropriate approach existed! Sometimes, we had to come up with our own...)

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Geelong, Australia
Posts: 1089
Good Answers: 54
#3
In reply to #1

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 2:25 AM

"...Not because I was any more knowledgeable..." But you probably were.

It's easy for engineers to underestimate how much background knowledge they bring to solving problems.

I recently had discussions with an "experienced technician" calibrating load cells, He seemed to be doing things in an unnecessarily complex way and after talking for a while, I realised he didn't really understand the whole linear equation y = mx + c thing. Surprising for someone who uses it for a living.

__________________
If there's something you don't understand...Then a wizard did it. As heard on "The Simpsons".
Register to Reply
Guru
Panama - Member - New Member Hobbies - CNC - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Panama
Posts: 4296
Good Answers: 213
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 3:16 AM

Yet, one of the best places to start in getting a handle on the instrumentation issues is a discussion with the technicians...They may not understand why they do it the way they do it, but they can give you an idea of where you have to start. And there are a lot of good technicians out there that really do have a good handle on what they are doing...

Register to Reply
Member

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 8
#8
In reply to #1

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 4:03 PM

To make it more specific I am currently an instrumentation engineer working on oil & gas projects (refineries, upgraders etc). The job requires a lot interpretation and working with process P&IDs.

In order to make decisions a lot of process background is required.

As you said that you take on the role of "instrument engineer" through research, that's exactly what I am doing currently.

It just bugs be a bit that my educational background plays not a big role in my job. This learning from the scratch just makes me question the value of my 4 years of Bachelors.

Register to Reply
Guru
Panama - Member - New Member Hobbies - CNC - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Panama
Posts: 4296
Good Answers: 213
#11
In reply to #8

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 8:45 PM

I have used very little of the materials I studied in University over the years, but there are esoteric aspects of the learning process that stay with you and are invaluable- the most important, in my opinion, being how to approach a problem, followed by how to ferret out the important information that is needed to resolve the problem. In other words, the most important thing you learned in University was the learning process itself...

Register to Reply
Participant

Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1
#24
In reply to #8

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/22/2011 12:49 AM

Hello pals, the friendly and warm disposition of guys here encouraged me to write for help. I am an Electrical engineer and have a very crucial job interview with an oil company and I have never worked in an oil company before. The company has asked us to prepare for a presentation on a case study to test our ability in research and application of our skills. The interview is on 29th July,2011. See details below:

Case Study

EGOC, Nigeria's leading oil producing firm, is experiencing operational challenges at one of its major oil fields. The quality of the seismic, reservoir, modelling, and other analyses at the field have thus far failed to help optimise its yield.

Drawing on your industry experience and knowledge from your chosen discipline, please discuss (in detail) what steps you would take to improve the operational efficiency of the field.

(NOTE: Ensure that the challenges and solutions highlighted are rooted in your discipline)

THANKS AND GOD BLESS YOU

Register to Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Geelong, Australia
Posts: 1089
Good Answers: 54
#2

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 2:14 AM

No, that can't be true.

Having a deep understanding of the physics behind what you're measuring, being able to understand the statistics used, understanding the various sources of error, having the ability to design the electronics inside the sensor - all this means you know way more.

Of course, it always takes a few years to get local, specific experience in any field, but once you master this, your EE skills will enable you to be very employable.

For fun, gently question the tech's about what they do, often you'll get answers like "We always do it that way", " That's how its done" or "That's how I was shown how to do it" ("Why, do you think you can do better?") . As a EE you can understand instead.

__________________
If there's something you don't understand...Then a wizard did it. As heard on "The Simpsons".
Register to Reply
2
Member

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 8
Good Answers: 2
#5
In reply to #2

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 4:34 AM

Sir, with all respect I find your response to be a bit pompous. I am a retired Instrument Tech. and I read your words as a contributor to the age old - sheepskin verses hard knocks argument that for centuries has done nothing but hold up knowledge on both sides. While you were in school learning all required to design equipment used in process control - I was in the field tearing the equipment down, troubleshooting not only the equipment but the entire process, over and over. I have all respect for your knowledge - knowledge which I do not have. Until Engineers and Technicians respect each other, and learn from each other - a lot of talent on both sides is wasted. I could talk all night about experiences I have had, but that solves nothing either. I have over 20 years in the oil industry in regards to Instrumention and Control. One of the reasons I decided to retire was the "politics". This field has always been one of accuracy - amazing how many times I was asked to fudge by management personell to make it look better? The attitudes between Engineers and Tech's have always been a very sad situation to me. If half the effort was spent listening to each other, and making an honest effort at working together as "chipping" at each other......imagine how much more productive each others work could be. I did not put all this here to sling mud........I hope that it will be food for thought to the younger guy's. Such a fascinating field to work in - should not be spoiled or hindered by childish games.

Register to Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Mumbai, India
Posts: 1747
Good Answers: 23
#6

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 7:49 AM

Hi,

If you are electrical engineer then how come you accepted the job of instrumentation engineer. I assume it might have been due to the circumstances. You could not get reasonably good job as electrical engineer.Many a times in life we have to compromise with our career options due to circumstances. There is nothing wrong in it, at least you have a job, also you have learnt about instrumentation, there is no end in learning throughout the life. Yes you have feeling that what you learnt you could not put into practice, leave aside such feelings. In schools we are taught zoology, French and many other subjects but we engineers never use them.

My advice to you is that if your basic interest is in electrical engineering, as you are pursuing Masters then please continue the same and wait for the opportunity to get suitable job in electrical engineering in different organisation.

__________________
"Engineers should not look for jobs but should create jobs for others" by Dr.Radhakrishnan Ex President of India during my college graduation day
Register to Reply
Member

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 8
#9
In reply to #6

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 4:11 PM

thanks for the response and advice.

You are partly right. Circumstances had a role to play. My first job was a mobility engineer with "Intel". I didn't much like the software programming job. I&C was my top priority at that time as the scope and demand is big universally. Besides at that time there didn't seem to be a specific degree being offered for this field in engineering. Electrical seemed to be the closest to this field.

So it was an intentional choice as well. I just didn't know that how much I will be lacking in educational background.

Register to Reply
Anonymous Poster
#16
In reply to #6

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/04/2010 10:08 AM

In schools we are taught zoology, French and many other subjects but we engineers never use them.

C'est ne pas vrai, mon vieux! How, without the knowledge of Zoology, can you tell a jackass from a dumbass?

Register to Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - EE from the the Wilds of Pa.

Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania
Posts: 924
Good Answers: 25
#7

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 8:46 AM

The electrical engineering degree certainly is a good start. Now, like most jobs, comes actual field experience. (learn on the job)

A really good place to get instrument experience, but a terrible way to make a living, is to become what the oil field calls a "logging engineer". The logging engineer gets to sit in front of a processor and HMI in a truck stuck in 3 feet of mud on a well site and record the outputs of up to 10 different instruments being run in the borehole to measure density/resistivity/hydro-carbon stauration/porosity/angle of incline/and so on. The real catch here is that after a 6 week intensive course on the various instruments and the processor (class instructor "here is the density measuring instrument - you'll know one when you see it - next instrument...."), you are sent 200 miles from any help and expected to field repair these beasties on the spot. You learn instrumentation theory and repair quite rapidly, or get run off site by angry drilling foremen and company geologists, who expect results as soon as you arrive on site.

Nothing like hands on experience to teach you.

__________________
They asked me if I was all right - I said, "well, no, I am half left."
Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Member

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 8
#10
In reply to #7

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 4:15 PM

Thanks for the advice.

I came to a similar conclusion over the last 3 years. I need field experience to get a feel of this field.

Sadly the recent global recessions and local circumstances had not allowed me such an opportunity. But I am trying to land myself a field position to see some instruments working and how the Instruments and Controls work and behave.

Theory is available from manufacturer specs but a lot of times I just don't know what to spec for when I don't have a feel for the instruments and controls.

Regards

Register to Reply
2
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Houston, USA
Posts: 973
Good Answers: 245
#12
In reply to #10

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/01/2010 10:16 PM

In my early career, I worked as electrical engineer in refinery and closely worked with instrumentation. All Instrument engineers who used to work there were all from electrical background but 'Instrument Engineer' by experience. As I, worked closely with them, I also learned it from the experience. One common question was arisen in my mind then about the PID controller – what actually the PID mean. I didn't get the satisfactory answer from any of them. Internet and other source of learning facilities were not available then - so I kept with my question unanswered long time. Later on, for my personal interest, I attended a course on Process Control in a Canadian community college and found it was very helpful to understand the instrumentation basics. I strongly suggest this type of course for new graduates intended to have Instrument Engineer career.

From my experience and knowledge, I would like to say 'to be a good instrument engineer, a person should have good process knowledge as well as good computer networking and data communication knowledge in addition to the instrumentation background'.

- MS

__________________
"All my technical advices in this forum must be consulted with and approved by a local registered professional engineer before implementation" - Mohammed Samad (Linkedin Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/msamad)
Register to Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - EE from the the Wilds of Pa.

Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania
Posts: 924
Good Answers: 25
#15
In reply to #10

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/02/2010 8:09 AM

You have the EE training, and, quite frankly, time has proven that this training can get you into most engineering positions, and a lot of other technical positions as well. I mentioned the well logging job as an example of what can happen, not as a suggested job. The oil field companies realized that geologists were logically the best for this work, since it involved understanding rock formations, but they couldn't handle the electronics required to run instrumentation in very poor conditons. So, in my training class in 1978, there were 8 EE's, 1 ME, and 1 geologist. The geologist quit in less than 3 months. I'd never go back to that field, but it sure taught me a lot about how to make quick decisions. So, hang in there. With your knowledge, something will come along. Don't be afraid to try something very weird, as I did, cause it might work out good in the end. By the way, my current position for 22 years now is as a controls engineer designing machine control systems.

__________________
They asked me if I was all right - I said, "well, no, I am half left."
Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Anonymous Poster
#13

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/02/2010 12:23 AM

For those that made some comments about us ignorant technicians and those like ffej that ask us questions "for fun" please leave us alone .

I can do my job with my good for nothing two year degree education, and please when the plant is having problems and is about to shut itself down don't follow me around asking me questions while I am trying to trouble shoot go back to you office and do your y=mx+c thing. I do need EE's but don't call me I'll call you

Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
2
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Mumbai, India
Posts: 1747
Good Answers: 23
#14
In reply to #13

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/02/2010 3:21 AM

With due respect to you and all the technicians around the world I would like to say that you are the people who keep the plants running with your sweat and black hands. When I completed my Production Engineering for one year I was trainee in shop floor and technicians were my Gurus who taught me so many things which I had never learnt in my college. So please do not get upset by some one's stray comments. You people are always jolly and joke around in whole shifts.

__________________
"Engineers should not look for jobs but should create jobs for others" by Dr.Radhakrishnan Ex President of India during my college graduation day
Register to Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Associate
Pakistan - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: PAK
Posts: 42
#17

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/10/2010 4:32 AM

Dear DigMas, i would like to know where u r from, because im in a similar situation as yours.

Being an EE (passed just last year), im too in an oil & gas industry, in a natural gas Purification Plant, learning instrumentation from scratch. I find instrumentation more closely related to Electronics enginering and Communication and some what Mechanical engineering since it deals mostly with 4-20mA, 0-24VDC, ICs, sensors, electronic cards, communication ports and buses (as in DCS, PLC cabinets), pressure, temperature, flow etc.

The thing which has helped me are the knowledge and experience of the TECHNICIANS, who in truth are the backbone which keep the system running without any problems. Before being an engineer, it is the TECHNICIAN which is ur real guru both in the beginning and afterwards in life.

Ive also downloaded tons of free ebooks from the internet regarding this field and the book that has probably helped me the most is lessons in instrumentation from Tony R. Kuphaldt. I love this writer and his books!

But still i have problems understanding the PID concept. Its so abstract, its seems to be like its just works in air and no practical. How can an integral and derivative equation that we studied in high school control the physical movement of the ctrl valve?? i know it does ofcourse, BUT HOW??

Though we studied a course of Control System in our senior year, the course was so theoritical and so dry, i didnt pay attention to it. and any way in the industry, in the maintenance section esp, it isnt of much use as yet. But i would love someone to tell how to understand this concept.

Regards

Register to Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Panama - Member - New Member Hobbies - CNC - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Panama
Posts: 4296
Good Answers: 213
#18
In reply to #17

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/10/2010 12:26 PM

If you think in terms of a continuous plot of the signal you are monitoring, the derivative is the slope of the line at any one point in time- it tells you how the signal is changing at any given point in time. I.e., whether it is increasing or decreasing (that is, whether the sign of the derivative is negative or positive) and how quickly it is changing. The integral calculates the area under the line- this can tell you the long-term trend of the signal by comparing adjacent readings. The derivative will be noisy, and if you use only the derivative to control your process, you could have a lot of cycling and instability. Because the integral requires a longer time period to generate it's error, you could have the process wander off the control point too far before a correction is applied. By combining both the derivative and the integral into your control scheme, you get smoother control over your process.

Register to Reply
Guru
Panama - Member - New Member Hobbies - CNC - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Retired Engineers / Mentors - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Panama
Posts: 4296
Good Answers: 213
#19
In reply to #17

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/10/2010 12:28 PM

PS- I also find the "All About Circuits" series from Tony R. Kuphaldt to be very, very helpful (especially for a non-EE!).

Register to Reply
Member

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 8
#21
In reply to #17

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

09/30/2010 12:40 PM

Exactly in the same situation. We did some controls courses but they were way too different with some nyquest and bode plots and stability analysis. Nothing too fancy here in instrumentation unless you are working for vendors and coming up with new products.

I have noticed I am learning from experience of others on daily basis, but progress in my own opinion is slow

Register to Reply
Member

Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 8
#22
In reply to #17

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

09/30/2010 12:42 PM

btw I have been told that

Shinskey, F G (1967) Process-Control Systems - Application, Design, Adjustment

is THE book to get more info on I&C.

Regards

Register to Reply
Associate
Pakistan - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: PAK
Posts: 42
#23
In reply to #22

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

10/02/2010 2:00 AM

is it available on the internet?

Register to Reply
Associate
Pakistan - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: PAK
Posts: 42
#20

Re: Electrical Engineer in Instrumentation

07/12/2010 2:46 PM

Yeah that book too! SUPERB!

Mr Kuphaldt, wherever you are, Mmmuwwaaaah!!!

Register to Reply
Register to Reply 24 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Achor (1); Anonymous Poster (2); cwarner7_11 (5); DigitalMaster (5); ffej (2); msamad (1); Phys (2); rizwan (3); suresh sharma (2); wailinharp (1)

Previous in Forum: "Ia" and "Ib" Difference in Intrinsically Safe Designation   Next in Forum: Honeywell DCS

Advertisement