Surf's up: what engineers really do

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    Surfs Up: What EngineersReally Do

    LINDA KOSMIN LANGFORDEMR Contributing Editor

    IEEE DOI 10.1109/EMR.2006.880533

    ENGINEERING responsibilitiescan still be both absorbingand challenging. One canlook to the Web to learn howother professional engineershave developed strategies forminimizing mundane workassignments in favor of moreinteresting technical projects.The Internet offers access toshared career profiles. Manyshed light on ways others haveovercome outsourcing anddownsizing shifts, now that thereis less promise for long-term jobsecurity. Furthermore, there aresites that emphasize continuingeducation opportunities. Othersexplain ways to reap the benefitsof P.E. licensure. The followingare examples of Web resourcesthat offer guidance to newcomersand practicing professionals,as they strive to keep on topof todays changing engineeringroles.

    Core InformationCompetencies Redefined:A Study of the InformationEducation of Engineers by an academic librarian,this study delves into theinformation seeking habits ofengineers. It examines how

    engineers acquire and gleanknowledge from literaturesources and from interactionswith customers, vendors, andcolleagues. Also, it reviewsresearch findings publishedelsewhere. There are summariesof chronological, social, andeconomic influences on theinformation competencies ofengineers. A link leads to aseparate page with usefulbibliographic references.

    Graduating Engineer Online the primary focus ofthis site is to provide guidanceto engineers entering theprofession, employed engineerscan also benefit from resourcefulinformation found here.Summaries of interviews withworking engineers offer insightsinto what those professionalsreally do during a typical workweek. Posted biographicalsketches include responsesto inquiries about lengthof employment, inter- andintra-departmental teamworkexperiences, skills neededto foster harmony amongassociates, and strategies formaking prudent career pathchoices. There is input for most


    engineering disciplines and somerelated endeavors. Also, the siteprovides open access to full-textarticles. For instance, there is anarticle about female engineersthat reflects work experiences inindustry vs. the government

    Greatest EngineeringAchievements ofthe 20th Century of this Website isbased on selections fromthe printed book entitled ACentury of Innovation: TwentyEngineering AchievementsThat Transformed Our Lives(National Academies Press, c2003). Each featured topic beginswith a detailed historical outlineexplaining subject-pertinentaccomplishments through theages. Timeless are followed bymore detailed explanations withemphasis is on applications, use,and future challenges. Also, thereare specific career profiles aboutindustry leaders. Examples ofbroad subject areas addressedare electricity, electronics, modesof transportation, mass media,energy resources, biomedicaland health-related imagingtechnologies, communicationchannels including the Internet,and creature comforts likeair conditioning, heating,refrigeration and waterresources.

    NASA Quest: WhatNASA People Do are provided to over900 descriptive biographicalprofiles for NASA engineers andscientists. To view on screen theentire directory of biographicalentries, leave all of the fieldsblank on this search enginepage and click the Find Recordsbutton at lower left. This willproduce a complete directoryalphabetized by surnames. Eachentry will indicate the NASAemployees area of interest, jobfunction, and work location. Clickon any of the adjacent GO linksto connect to the Web page forthat individual. Career profilesvary in length. Most includea digital image of the worker.Accompanying text often providesdetails about the persons pastand present career journey,education, key competencies,current NASA job responsibilitiesincluding positives and negativeaspects, personal data, insightsabout role models, profile updateinformation, and links to anyachieved NASA chat discussionforum postings.

    National Council ofExaminers for Engineeringand Surveying (NCEES) here is on designingstandardized tests for licensing

    engineering professionalpractices. The aim is to fosteruniform work standards acrossgeographical boundaries,promote ethical businessconduct, and facilitate careermobility. Detailed information isprovided about the Fundamentalsof Engineering (FE) exam andfurther steps required to fullyachieve licensed ProfessionalEngineer (PE) status. In thecareer profiles found at thissite, contributors summarizecurrent and past professionalwork assignments, academicachievements, professionalawards, interactions withsupervisors, and vocationaladvantages of having licensure.

    Sloan Career CornerstoneCenter:http://careercornerstone.orgThis informative resourcesfocuses on all aspects and levelsof science and technology thatrelate to career path alternatives.There are over 400 professionalprofiles maintained here.Engineers, mathematicians, andscientists share occupationalexperiences and workplacewisdom by means of text andshort videos. Many includedescriptions of typical workdays.Site visitors have free onlineand email access to monthlynewsletters.