Saturday, October 24, 2015

Blurbs That Open a New FB Tab

I feel like going into interviews in Malaysia, a Canadian degree is quite eye-catching because not a lot of people are sent there. Biomedical engineering although not as numerous, but thanks to UM, it is a pretty popular degree. I am glad, very, very glad McMaster tacked on Electrical to the Biomedical Engineering degree. It opens up a lot more options here to also apply for electrical engineering jobs, since jobs that are explicitly Biomedical Engineering is non-existent, or at least, reserved for people with postgraduate degrees. One thing I realized about engineering jobs is that it's quite diverse. You either go into a specialized position that works in one team and working directly with the technology or you're more of a bridge between different teams and take on a more leadership role because you'd already have technicians who take on the main role of implementing the technology. In the latter, it requires a big picture view as compared to the details, although knowing the technology is important, but this knowledge is also married to some economic knowledge in resource management and cost analysis to optimize output. So, I suppose, an engineer really isn't a one-trick blue collar pony that some people think they are, and it also means that the more important skills is really the communication and project management skills rather than the technical skills. Although in more specialized jobs, then the technical skills would take center stage because you're directly implementing the technology. If you're capable of juggling different types of subjects and projects in school, which is really how engineering degrees are structured, as compared to say, medicine, then, those skills pretty much help gear you for an engineering job, not so much the content of the course or the exams. Since you forget the content anyway, and when you get the job they will train you anyway. Now, does this open up the possibility if non-engineering degree holders could get an engineering job if they had the multifaceted skill set that is characteristic of the "big picture" engineering job? Well, generally, that doesn't happen because to some degree having a little bit of technical background is important. Technical subjects require a different mode of thinking as compared to the social sciences and even science. It is evident even in the language used in the research papers produced for engineering journals as compared to science or medicine journals. The focus is different and the details they emphasize, the way the data is interpreted (if any) is different. Some of these details are irrelevant to an engineer and if one is not trained technically, these details can be missed. Even in universities, engineers are allowed to take non-engineering complementary electives, but the converse is not true for non-engineering degree holders, at the most, they could get a computer science elective. So, yeah, after finishing 4 years of an engineering degree I realized I never really knew what engineers really were. It isn't just the hardhats and steel-toed boots, although some engineers do wear this getup.

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