1st Edition

Learning Engineering Practice

By James Trevelyan Copyright 2021
    194 Pages 60 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    194 Pages 60 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    This book explains engineering practice, what engineers actually do in their work. The first part explains how to find paid engineering work and prepare for an engineering career. The second part explains the fundamentals of engineering practice, including how to gain access to technical knowledge, how to gain the willing collaboration of other people to make things happen, and how to work safely in hazardous environments. Other chapters explain engineering aspects of project management missed in most courses, how to create commercial value from engineering work and estimate costs, and how to navigate cultural complexities successfully. Later chapters provide guidance on sustainability, time management and avoiding the most common frustrations encountered by engineers at work. This book has been written for engineering students, graduates and novice engineers. Supervisors, mentors and human resources professionals will also find the book helpful to guide early-career engineers and assess their progress. Engineering schools will find the book helpful to help students prepare for professional internships and also for creating authentic practice and assessment exercises.

    PART I

    Preparation for an engineering career

    1 Engineering: doing more with less
    Transforming the planet
    Engineering disciplines

    2 Engineering practice
    How to use this book

    3 Seeking paid engineering work
    Fear of failure
    Stage 1: Preparation
    Stage 2: Visit engineering suppliers and potential employers
    Relocating for opportunities?

    4 Neglected perception skills
    Perceiving reality
    Prior knowledge influences perception

    5 Listening
    Practice exercise: observing listening lapses
    Active listening and paraphrasing
    Writing accurate notes
    Contextual listening
    Helping others to listen
    An imperfect, interactive, interpretation performance
    More listening and note-taking exercises 40

    6 Reading documents
    Practice exercise: reading documents to learn from them
    Practice exercise: written requirements

    7 Reading people
    Avoid email and text messages for sensitive conversations

    8 Seeing and creativity
    Why is sketching so difficult?
    Practice exercise: evaluate your seeing skills

    PART 2

    Workplace learning

    9 Learning the ropes

    10 Engineering knowledge
    Knowledge and information
    Types of knowledge
    Knowledge transfer
    Acquiring new knowledge—learning

    11 Knowledge is a social network
    Mapping knowledge
    Distributed knowledge
    Distributed cognition

    12 Making things happen
    Step 1: finding a peer
    Step 2: discovery, organisation
    Step 3: monitoring—another discovery performance
    Step 4: completion and handover
    Informal leadership, face to face
    Social culture
    Practice exercise—knowledge network mapping

    13 Working safely
    Identify hazards
    Identify hazardous events
    Identify likelihood, consequences, and risks
    Risk control measures
    First steps
    Cultural influences
    Human behaviour

    14 Making big things happen
    Information, knowledge, and diversity
    Project life cycle
    Project planning
    Negotiate and define the scope of work, calculate the time schedule
    Risk analysis and management
    Final Investment Decision (FID) approval
    Monitoring progress—continuous learning
    Completing the project

    15 Generating value
    Innovation, research and development (1)
    Product differentiation (2)
    Efficiency improvements (3)
    Reducing technical uncertainties (4)
    Performance forecasts (5)
    Inspection, testing, and design checking (6)
    Project and design reviews (7)
    Compliance with standards (8)
    Reliable technical coordination (9)
    Teaching, building skills (10)
    Social licence to operate: co-creating value with communities (11)
    Sustainment: operations, asset management, and maintenance (12)
    Environmental protection (13)
    Defence and security (14)
    Small and medium enterprises
    Balancing value generation with cost
    Quantifying value generation
    Learning more

    16 Estimating costs
    Labour cost
    What does it cost to employ you?
    Low-income countries

    17 Navigating social culture
    What’s different?
    Some products can succeed
    Think in terms of value generation

    18 Sustainability
    Climate change
    UN sustainable development goals
    Overcoming resistance to change
    Renewable energy
    Efficiency gains, new ideas, or behaviour change?

    19 Time management
    Understand daily physiological patterns
    Classify tasks
    Adapt your schedule
    Keep records
    Schedule major tasks
    Allocate time to help others
    Say “no” by saying “yes”
    Defer or delegate: documentation and filing is the key
    Unforeseen disruptions, avoiding overwork

    20 Frustrations
    Frustration 1: Working hard is not getting me anywhere
    Frustration 2: I can’t get a job without experience and advertised jobs require experience
    Frustration 3: Admin, meetings, accounts, and procedures: this is not what I was educated for
    Frustration 4: This job does not have enough intellectual challenges for me
    Frustration 5: Has this been done before?
    Frustration 6: Constrained by standards?
    Frustration 7: Yearning for hands-on work
    Frustration 8: I can’t get other people to understand my ideas
    Frustration 9: This company is run by accountants
    Frustration 10: They always cut the maintenance budget first
    Frustration 11: They are only interested in the lowest price
    Frustration 12: Net Present Value (NPV) shows the project is fine—why don’t they approve it?
    Frustration 13: My skills and knowledge are only valued in rich countries
    Frustration 14: I would much prefer a job where I could do something to help people
    Frustration 15: My emails go unanswered
    Epilogue – next steps

    Online Appendices


    Emeritus Professor James Trevelyan is an engineer, educator, researcher and recently became a start-up entrepreneur.
    He is CEO of Close Comfort, a tech start-up introducing new energy saving, low emissions air conditioning technology to Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and other countries with a large potential global market.
    His research on engineering practice helped define Engineers Australia professional competencies for chartered engineers. His book "The Making of an Expert Engineer" and advances in understanding how engineers contribute commercial value are influencing the future of engineering education in universities and workplaces. Another book, "30 Second Engineering", is helping to build greater awareness of the key importance of engineering and will reach a global audience.
    He is best known internationally for pioneering research that resulted in sheep shearing robots from 1975 till 1993 and for the first industrial robot that could be remotely operated via the internet in 1994. He received the leading international award for robotics research, equivalent to the Fields medal in mathematics.
    In 2018 he was awarded West Australian of the Year in the professions category in recognition of his achievements.