Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Is It I Do?

The title of my M.S. thesis was Modeling of Heat Treating Processes for Transmission Gears. My M.S. degree is Materials Science and Engineering. There are Process Engineer jobs that are like assembly line process engineering jobs, like an Industrial or Management Engineer would do. There are Material Management jobs that are similar. So even though it says one thing, which uses a word that I like to think my education and experience "own" it is not at all what I am trained to do!

A person recently recommended that I try to find out where some particular steel was made, when I realized that people don't really know what a materials scientist and engineer does. Without reading any description of what a materials science and engineering major supposedly does I am going to describe what I am trained to do, in order of what I feel makes me more marketable.

  1. Create and run complex computer heat treating simulations. I can of course do mechanical stress analysis simulations, in fact my first day using the simulation I did a stress analysis simulation. It took me more than a year to understand heat treating simulations enough to get a decent result.
  2. Understand and plan heat treating. This, like the simulations, is because it was directly related to my thesis. About 1/3 of the cost of most gears I believe is due directly to the heat treating. It is similar for other heat treated parts. 
  3. Understand material failures. You might call some things weaknesses or imperfections but to people like me they are failures. I understand how that happens, even on an atomic level.
  4. On top of all of that I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering, if it flies, goes into space, flows, or involves a turbine I understand it.
  5. I feel that I present well. Both of my most recent interviews have involved myself giving a presentation. I was told this summer by distinguished University of Colorado at Boulder professor that I teach well. 

I know I am not the best in the world at anything, except maybe my Abaqus Bottom-up Mesh Tutorial, but when I hear stories or see people who are clearly not great at what they do it makes me cringe. What is my problem?

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