In this career interview, a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry shares his professional experiences, and tells those interested in the field what can be expected in terms of education requirements, how much money you can make, and all the things you don’t learn in school. This is a true career interview as told to DiversityJobs.com. This is one of many interviews with individuals in the engineering field including interviews with a software engineer and with an IT engineer.
I am currently employed as a mechanical engineer within the industry of Aerospace Engineering, and have been working for about four years within this field. If I had to describe myself using only three words, I’d sum them up as analytical, meticulous and inventive.
As an East-Asian American Male, I feel I’ve experienced discrimination and bias from a unique position within this industry. On one hand, there tends to be a stereotypical association between East Asian Americans and some sectors of the engineering and biomedical professions. However, the Aerospace field skews away from that demographic.
My job description essentially entails the generation, distribution, and use of energy as it pertains to the design and development of aeronautical component parts. Some people seem to believe I have a purely analytical role, however engineering requires a significant amount of creative problem-solving.
As far as job satisfaction goes, I would rate my enthusiasm for my career at around a 9. It’s only on a very rare occasion that I meet someone who has displayed the dedication necessary to arrive in an engineering position yet isn’t passionate about their career.
My path towards becoming a mechanical engineer occurred as a consequence of ample planning and forethought. While the title “mechanical engineer” didn’t materialize as a concrete goal until my 2nd year of University, I began taking Science and Mathematics AP classes as far back as the 8th grade.
Before I graduated, I took on an entry level part time position at a large, private firm and have been there ever since. Early on in my career, however, I was somewhat overwhelmed with how different the role of engineering is from the academic theory of science and engineering. The entire profession is a learning process.
One of the main reasons why I feel so invigorated by the position I hold is the fact I’m consistently apart of an ongoing project that begins as something highly abstract yet becomes functional and tangible. The way engineering pulls together the most conceptual information and turns it into something extremely practical is uniquely satisfying.
Despite how rewarding my line of work is, there are times when any engineer is going to doubt their level of resolve. If you have perfectionist tendencies, as many engineers I know do, the need for high-achievement coupled with lack of precisely measured feedback in terms of performance can leave one feeling unrewarded. There are multiple ways to approach and resolve a problem, and this can leave one feeling a little lost at times.
Overall, I find my job to be too absorbing to really be stressful. When you properly prepare for a career in engineering, the process becomes second-nature , and what may seem like insurmountable tasks to an outsider, express themselves rather fluidly after being on the job for a few years. Deadlines initially seem daunting, but they eventually become a source of welcome structure.
For individuals in my position, salary ranges from around $50,000 to $90,000, and I find the salary I receive is appropriate for the work I do. My needs are generally met.
In order to really succeed in this occupation, a Bachelors of Science degree is almost a necessity. The level of mathematics and scientific principles that you will have needed to master can only really be attained from an academic department specializing in such things. In addition, you need to have an aptitude for solving problems and being able to think through a variety of obstacles.
Five years from now, I imagine myself continuing along my current line of work, but possibly in the capacity of a systems engineer. While I thoroughly enjoy working in a more specialized capacity, being able to take in the whole picture and act as the architect of a cohesive whole makes me both highly passionate as well as highly focused on my objectives ahead.
Mechanical engineering image from Shutterstock