Dennis Preston, PE
From the moment that you wake in the morning until the time that you head to bed, your life has been touched by the work of engineers. From the clock radio that wakes you to the equipment that provides your home with electricity, water and heat all have been designed by engineers. Your daily transportation: automobiles, buses, trains, planes and ships all were designed by engineers. Likewise, the roads, bridges, and tunnels that you travel on were designed by engineers. And buildings: architects design the look of a building in collaboration with engineers who make sure that it will be strong enough and develop the systems to provide heating air conditioning and plumbing. Your TV, iPod and smart phone are all the products of engineering.
So with all this, why do so few people really know what engineers do? Why are there no TV shows or movies about engineers? Some engineering work is very public and in the news, as with the roll-out of a new aircraft, or at the ribbon cutting for a new grand bridge or the debut of an exciting new electronic gadget. However, most engineering and design work is done quietly in offices out of the limelight and without the drama so favored by entertainment producers. Because of the complexity, magnitude and cost of most projects, engineering design is rarely the work of one individual, but is usually the product of larger teams consisting of many different engineering disciplines. That’s not to say that all engineering is quiet and boring. Engineers do get to test their designs. Think of automobile crash tests for example.
If you like to design, build and test things, then maybe an engineering career is for you. To become an engineer, you need an aptitude for science and mathematics, as well as a curious mind as to how things work. Most engineering positions require a college degree from an accredited institute or university. An engineering degree program will take from 4-to-6 years to complete. Beyond that is on-the-job training that will help give the new engineer the experience and sound judgment needed to succeed in this challenging career field
Dennis Preston is a Connecticut licensed professional engineer. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of New Haven and an MS in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Career highlights include work on naval nuclear submarines, participating in submarine sea trials, design work for the Hubble space telescope, design and testing of components for the Hexagon spy satellite, design of satellite navigation sensors and engineering for microlithography equipment used in computer chip production.