Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Three Pieces of Graduate Advice That I Wish I Had Listened To

It is the time of the year when everyone gives advice to new graduates before they start new jobs in the "real world" and begin the career climb. I thought I would toss in a few pieces of advice to all new engineering grads that I wish I had listened to when I graduated. 
First, look to turn a few things off before you think about turning new ones on. 
What I mean is that in many cases if you focus on removing the waste in the system then you may not need new equipment or people and in fact you may not even need all that you currently have. We always want to buy shiny new things because it is fun and exciting but what we find in many cases is that we do not really need them to meet the engineering need.
For example (read real life mistake):
When you are running low on compressed air, do not buy a new air compressor before taking the time to fix all the leaks in the current system. You may find that once the leaks are fixed you do not need all the equipment you have now. If you do not buy the new one then that is money saved on both the equipment and the maintenance of the additional equipment.
Redesign is your last option not your first
When you find a problem do not look to create a new better redesigned version without first truly understanding why the current one does not meet expectations. When you create a new one you bring in a whole new set of failure modes that will need to be understood.
For example (read real life mistake):
If the position counter on a Schlafhorst spinning frame is not counting one should try to understand why it is not sensing the bolts instead of first redesigning it completely as a retro reflective counter system in a dusty environment. Rumor has it the dusty environment will add new failure modes to the system.
Its all in the detail: double check the dimensions.
Said a different way, measure twice and have someone else cut once.
For example (read real life mistake):
When designing new carts to hold 108 inch loads of cores a 105 inch beautifully designed and built cart is well... kinda useless.

What advice would you give to new graduates as they start their journey? Leave them in the comments below.

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