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Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 2:25 AM

Hello CR4! Ya'll helped me loads when I was designing a safety system for my graduation project. Now I hold a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Design & Production Engineering.

The problem is that I couldn't find any decent mechanical engineering work post graduation, so I continued on with my part-time job, now a full-time one, of teaching IGCSE level Physics (Highschool Physics).

Thing is, I'm feeling very dissatisfied and conflicted in my life. I'm good at teaching but I still feel like I'm missing something, it was my dream in college to go out into the world and either work in Mechanical Design, R&D or work in a factory (whether it be designing products or improving factory layouts). All the I did find were sales jobs or maintenance engineering jobs, with long working hours and very low pay, not to mention a considerably long distance from my home, 2 hour drive at least.

What do you reckon I should do? This feeling of being lost and conflicted is depressing me. I live in Cairo, Egypt if that helps.

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#1

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 2:36 AM

First, congratulations on completing a degree and getting started in a position, even if not yet ideal. Economies around the world are in tough shape now, so hang on to what you have until a solid offer comes along. Do your best to research companies that are active in your areas of interest. Without being negative about your current position, try to get interviews (or exchange letters), emphasizing your talents and the areas where you would like to grow professionally. Good luck!

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#2

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 4:06 AM

I sympathise with your frustration.
Keep looking for engineering jobs, but maybe you can help yourself and your pupils by using your enthusiasm to work with the students on a BIG project.
If it's very big, make sure they realise that they may not see completeion but the inividual parts are still important, it will be good for you and the kids as it will help with teamwork and your management skills.
A big project done slowly doesn't need to be expensive, may a green project of some sort? Even if it's an 'after school' project.
It will also boost your CV.
I hope this idea may be of some use.
Del

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#16
In reply to #2

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 9:19 AM

I concur with Del's view. I tutor students in Science Fair PROJECTS (They are already learning Physics in school). This helps them see how to apply that knowledge to doing actual research, and how to present that research both to application oriented business for further application, and to research oriented funding sources, to accomplish further research, which is often beyond their own limited financial means.

The advantages for me are that the work with the students, bright and curious as they are, is extremely energizing for me, and helps keep me sharper, and more abreast of Scientific advances in many fields (One educator said that the beauty of teaching Science lies not in the intelligence of the instructor, but the ability to stay one step ahead of the student, in the books. I would submit that THIS kind of teaching and work requires BIG steps to stay ahead of a bunch of REALLY motivated students! What fun!!). In addition, I find a great deal of personal satisfaction is seeing how the students are able to find application in what is often, here in the US, a boring curriculum with no APPARENT (at least to kids who, by and large, don't have a very large world view yet, no matter what they might be told, or might themselves believe.) application to "real life". And once students see that what they are learning has practical value, there is no stopping their enthusiasm. And that, too, energizes me.

So, I win on all fronts. Except pay. Because I am a volunteer in this process.

But you, already being an instructor, may already be working the "lab side" of things. If not, I'd suggest that you pick a few really motivated students from your, and maybe other, classes (being aware of the political minefields inherent in "poaching") and build a project team. Get the students involved in choosing a specific project. Make it one with visible practical application. And shepherd them through it, guiding them in the work, but letting them do the research, apply the knowledge gained, design the appropriate tests and methods, document, and let them, in general, reap the benefits of recognition of their work.

I think you'll find the result more encouraging that a larger paycheck in a job, or job environment, you might dislike intensely.

But, still, as Del says, keep your eye on the job prospects, and don't hesitate to use what you, and your "club" accomplish as part of YOUR CV. Most potential employers want to see whether you can conceive of, organize, and carry through, a team effort. That will go a long way toward filling the "practical experience" side of a resume.

In closing, I had a friend who had taught college curricula at a couple of major engineering schools in the US, who had two Doctorates in physical sciences with only distantly related specialties, was a Rhodes Scholar, had studied both in the US and abroad (both the UK, and Germany) and had a full-professorship (not in, but under, an endowed chair), who asked me to take his resume to my boss, since he was seeking "REAL employment" (his statement, but I agree with the implications). My boss had one question, which I had told me friend he would ask, to wit; "But what has he DONE?"

I would submit that a path working through a complex problem, guiding and facilitating your student's efforts, will go a long way to answering this question.

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#3

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 10:37 AM

Thanks mates. It really is frustrating since I the reason I enrolled in engineering is because I like to build things. Problem is I don't know what I personally feel comfortable with. I enjoy teaching, a lot. I also enjoy designing things, fixing things and solving problems.The main issue I'm probably facing is that I don't know what path to walk in life. I don't take it out on my students since I actually like the job, been doing it for 5 years now too. Guess I just thought I could be "more". I like seeing tangible results, I like to hold it, feel it, smell it (that sounded wrong).

I was thinking I should stick to teaching while doing a Masters in Physics, to both supplement my current position and maybe help me figure out what to do in life.

I guess I also feel like I'm betraying my love for engineering. I love being an engineer, being called so. It's an emotional issue more or less.

The big project idea seems very interesting. Problem is most students in Egypt care very little about extra curricular work and just aim for high exam grades, devoting their time only for that. I don't blame them either.

EDIT: I was also thinking of going into aviation maintenance. Study and take it's tests and become a licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. Thoughts?

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#4
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Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 10:58 AM

Hi Manatrius,

If you've got the time go for it.

Best of luck

John

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#5

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 1:23 PM

My advice would be to seek a higher degree and everything will work itself out...

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#6
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Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 1:41 PM

A higher degree in what exactly? That's the thing. I'm interested in a LOT of things, not just one. Whether it's mechanical design, nanotechnology, robotics, physics and such.

Problem is I tried going for a higher degree in Mechanical Engineering, I couldn't keep up with the advanced math classes since I forgot all my basic mathematics. Shameful I know, so I'm working on fixing that now. Just figuring out exactly WHAT I wanna study would help me a great deal.

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#7
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Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 6:10 PM

Well as strange as this may sound, I think it chooses you...What I mean is, that as you try different things, or really any thing, there emerges a talent for a particular aspect of what it is you're doing...You might excel at the creative planning stage, or the organisational aspect, or the actual mechanical construction side of things...In any case it takes time and experience to allow this to happen...Trying to decide what you're going to do for the rest of your life really is the wrong approach, rather to not limit your experience in all aspects of various projects allows you to eventually know what you want to do, and indeed this may change over the course of ones life...So don't approach your career as if you were marrying for life but rather play the field and keep your options open until you see what you want, and then go get it....Further education gives you the tools to go further in what ever you choose to do, and is always a good idea...Education is a lifelong pursuit, you should never stop learning...

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#8
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Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 11:04 PM

maybe politics?

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#13
In reply to #6

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 8:18 AM

It sounds like you did not use a math model int your head to conceive of your ideas: so what did you use? visual? body (as if you are feeling it)? smelling it(it is not crazy)?

If you can sense how you "get into" your ideas, you might want to focus tn that direction.

I use different modes, one is historical, that is, imagine myself in a specific place and time watching people, then ask how they did things, then see how a different group at a later time did the same things, in a different way. Then you can use the same transform in a different field... etc. The possibilities are endless. It comes down to "do what you love to do", now you just have to fine out whaat you love to do.

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#9

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 11:19 PM

Something else you might consider, in the mean time, would be to try to make various mechanical models that demonstrate the physical principles which you are trying to teach in your physics class. And, as a challenge, have your students, in teams or separately, build a model of their choosing to demonstrate to the class too...

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#10
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Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 11:33 PM

Excellent! I still remember my college physics class (1967-8), in which every lecture was accompanied by a demonstration or two. A lab tech set these up, and when the time came, the prof would walk around behind the bench to do the demo. These were integrated very seamlessly into the lectures.

When I was doing a teaching internship in high-school algebra (1970), I once did a whole sequence on conic sections, with all sorts of stuff like an elliptical pool table (marble size), a reflective wave tank, elliptical gears, a beaker on a spin table to produce a paraboloid, some string art with ruled surfaces. Etc., etc. It was a big hit.

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#11

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/30/2012 11:50 PM

My advice is to find a path in sustainability & renewable energy its the future and its big in every way , you can be part of a huge waste managment fortune, a renewable technology or even sustainable desings, egypt is a perfect place for that. google them in you area and try to see there requirment , work on your post gradute degree and squeeze in by trying every where and every time, but keep in head that if you wont love what you are trying to be part of you will never do enough to join and grow cause you'll lack motivation.

hope you find this usefull.

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#12

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 8:08 AM

Continue to imagine and feel the dream. Pray, persist, network.

You will find that being a teacher is a necessary piece of the pie of life. This teaching is perhaps a skill to prepare you manage a mechanical design R&D team.

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#14

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 9:13 AM

I'm going to give a contrary opinion to everyone else.

I assume you're young and not grounded to your location except for personal preference. If so, there are plenty of mechanical engineereing jobs in this country of all flavors. Government related or Private Industry. Design or Theoretical. Hands-on or Paper intensive.

All that would be required is that you are willing to re-locate to where the job is. It might not even be your "Dream Job". In fact, I personally think that you would get more growth out of a non-dream job at first, because at this point you have nothing to base your dream expectations on.

Do some internet searching. I'd wager that you would find many interesting job opening descriptions to pursue.

Sure it will be hard: moving, finding a place to live, meeting new people (good & bad), having to adapt to a totally different work environment than you are accustomed. Learning the skills for survival in an alien world :)

It is a big country out there, go out for an adventure, live a little, go to where the money is, make it and spend it while your still young and able. Use it to travel, visit the Caribean or the Alps, buy that car you want, blow your money on things that are fun for you now.

I'm not advocating doing anything stupid, think about the future, but don't let it interfere with the present. You have the degree and I assume the skills to be gainfully employed in the field of your education.

You can always come back to teaching later, and would bring back some real world experiences to share with your students.

Good luck

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#15

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 9:15 AM

Manatrius - Consider and give the following some thoughts and time for it to sink-in in you! The differences between "real" world and the "academic" world,which where you are presently. Think on the what gaps, in terms of both tangibles and intangibles will separate the different theories and their applications?

On prior unsuccessful jobs applied for, think back on what were they and corresponding reasons given why you failed their acceptance? Evaluate them, then do some self analysis!

Be honest on what you "Think you Can" do, v.s. "What you can effectively Demonstrate" and physically able to do?

Included in your analysis, now consider the following:

1. where/ what you are now presently, in terms job and educational achievements and ability or chances to go further?

2. what /where you want to be, in terms of self satisfaction or self fulfillment?

3. What you can actually, physically, successfully demonstrate do,

Somehow to be successful, it is a pre-requisite to be able to effectively demonstrate your abilities in this real world!

Once you made the distinctions on the above and by being honest to yourself will help you make the proper decision a lot easier.

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#17

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 11:15 AM

We're hiring mechanical engineer. I think we still have a position open. We manufacture machinery used in packinghouses, consisting of sizers (which are a big as for train box cars connected from end to end), all kinds of conveyors and packing machines and paletizers, bin dumps, washer/waxers, dryers, etc....

Howerver the company is in Traver, California. Unless you don't mind the commute.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 12:06 PM

I suspect he will not mind the telecommute

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#19
In reply to #17

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 5:11 PM

I wouldn't mind the relocation. Getting a VISA might be a doozy though.

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#21
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Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 7:13 PM

I work for MAF Industries. Our parent company is in France, we're also in Spain, China, Australia, Chile, Mexico, several European countries. Google MAF Industries and there might be a place where you can submit a resume.

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#20

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

01/31/2012 5:30 PM

I really thank everyone for their help. CR4's community is absolutely amazing.

For the time being I'm sticking to my position but I'll be doing various changes similar to the ones micahd2, del the cat and MR.Guest suggested.

I'll also be actively searching for different jobs abroad and travel around. Even if I do enjoy teaching, it'd be better if I have a ton of different experiences to share with them all. Props to reefdiver for that.

My main mental problem is that I'm trying too hard to "marry" into my future job starting now. That's a barrier I'll need to break.

Maaaaaan! Reading through all your comments put a smile on my face. :)

Still undecided but I guess that's what being young is all about right? Cause I've been given the impression that at 23 I'm too old to be trying stuff out and exploring.

Anyone got any open positions for a fledgling like me? :D I'm free starting mid June 2012. :P

Thanks to everyone who's helping out here. I love ya'll!

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#22

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

02/01/2012 4:32 AM

It is hard to match career and interest. Almost , 75% people mismatch with their present job/ career and their own interest.

Compromise is best solution. We cannot follow our interest without money support.

So took the job inline with your education . Don`t bother If it is sales , maint., production etc.Suppose now you spent @10 hrs. for your current job. Then 10 hrs. for your sleep etc. still 4 hrs. u can use for your interest.

Just travel from this hardships with courage .

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#23

Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

02/04/2012 12:44 AM

Most engineers choose that career because they like to be creative while solving problems. Education offers a vast problem space just begging for creative solutions! I say this speaking as someone who left a technical career (industrial instrument technician) to become a college teacher.

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#24
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Re: Career Path Advice - Education versus Engineering

02/05/2012 1:35 AM

So, you liked the change?

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