Today, I am writing a very short piece of advice, but a very important one especially for young engineers.
…And that’s also something that no one will ever tell you!
Read my advice and you’ll see…
If you are a young engineer just starting your career as a mechanical engineer, you may be thinking:
“I need to know the best CAE software on the market so that companies will hire me to use this software”
In fact, if you look at job descriptions, you might see that every company require you to know a certain number of “Famous CAE tools” on the market.
So… it might be true that when you start, knowing how to use those pieces of software will give you more chances to get a job.
My point is the following: As soon as you get a job, you should try to learn as many other tools as you can…
…And preferably rare tools
Of course, those tool should be useful for your work and provide a real plus value.
Those tools are also often more specialized than the more generalist software which are used in the industry.
But why should you do that?
The reason is simple, when you know something useful that other engineer in your company do not know, you gain an “unfair advantage” over everyone:
- You become the person who is “special” because you know this tool
- You get recognition from other people in the company because you have more specialized knowledge
- You become the go-to-guy who can give advice to other engineers about this specific software and how to use it correctly
But there is an even more important reason… you become irreplaceable for your company!
Think about it… if you know how to use a software that every fresh engineer know how to use, your company can easily replace you with someone new who also know how to use this tool!
But if you know a rare tool that no one knows how to use, your company will never be able to replace you ;-)
To give you an example, there are old companies in this world which still have full system developed in Cobol language…
Those companies have a very hard time to find engineers who can use Cobol! So all their current old staff is irreplaceable… and every time someone choose to retire, it’s a big problem for the company!
Let me tell you also another secret:
The more you accumulate useful skills that relate to your job, the more you have chances to generate value for your company (And for other companies too…).
So, as a CAE engineer, I recommend you to look into learning the following skills:
- First, if you like to be an engineer and want to stay en engineer, you should learn as much specialized knowledge in your field as you can and your should also learn how to code or create scripts to automate everything you can.
- Second, if you fancy moving up to another division or role in your company, you should try to learn either Marketing & Sales to move as a Sales-Engineer
- Third, if you prefer to become a manager and manage a team of engineers, then you should learn soft skills (doing presentations, making speeches, how to create human relations & how to become a leader)
- If you want to become Superman, just learn all of it ;-)
More you have skills and more you become valuable. More you are valuable, more you can start to get high paid jobs in which you are able to make a real impact by using your many skills…. as simple as that.
Joke apart, I hope this short article and pieces of advice were useful to you!
Let me know in the comments, I am always glad to hear from you.
Cyprien “Becoming a rare engineer” Rusu
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Thanks Cyprien, As you correctly said, now days it is really hard to know only one software and be on the job. But if we learn different tools which are useful in very few cases then there is tendency of forgetting what we learned and before that less inclination towards learning it because of work and time constraint. but if want to become leader you should know….
Taher Mohammed Sahara says
Thank you sir, for your articles.They really help a lot. Looking forward to more of such stuff.
M Azoulaye says
This is some very valuable advice, the more niche knowledge and skills you obtain the less you’ll have to compete with mainstream engineers.
Plus you get paid more than the average guy. :D
Rainer Jordan says
“…your should also learn how to code or create scripts to automate everything you can.” YES, YES, YES
In my opinion it’s essential to sharpen your tools to get the work done. It’s needed to survive the pressure given by management.
Learning “rare tools” might be ok if there is a constant demand. If you need to use it every 2 years or once a year basically you are learning from scratch every time. This is even more the case if you are using open source software with the frequent changings and updates.
In Engineering there is a lot of special software that is helpful but the prices are high up also. If this software is needed only a few times, maybe the company decides to outsource this special job.
Nowadays, FEM and CFD are build into the 3D-CAD software. Every engineer can produce “colorfull pictures”that makes the management happy, despite the “wrong” results. The management doesn’t see the need for a CAE/FEM/CFD specialist because “everybody can do”. Hopefully, this mistake involves monetary losses only and not injuries to people.
Certified CAE specialist since 1985 but working a different subjects thereafter
I agree Rainer, this is not easy indeed… but Engineer in general is not easy either ;-)
It’s always a balance between what you can do to improve, become better at it and the price you are willing to pay in exchange in terms of effort and learning… The hard path is the one that carries the most benefits.
Rennan Cavalcante says
Thank you, Cyprien. This article helps me a lot and made me think more about the importance of an engineer do not be just a engineer but also a good saler or a good leader.
Radu Sava says
Thank you Cyprien.
About engineers, it is better to have a large horizont , technical means.
To open the secret box.
To be engineer, it should be necessary to be open to do the job , using as well the clasic drawing board and the hand calculation .
After that , a computer 3D space , will help you to do your plans , but never left outside the clasic hand calculation.
Today there are software , that it is no needed to creat the mesh but offer some output files with manny data.
Needed to understand that data, offer you the next concerning – do not make errors in your concept ! Read and learned more to understand the phenomena.
Exactly, you nailed it.