Third Cubicle on the Right The doors open, you step off the elevator. You pass the vending machines, coffee makers and a box of glazed donuts. Veering to the left, you enter the array of cubicles from wall to wall. Something catches your eye. Hes young, really young and he has his own desk here at Bell Helicopter Textron.
No way you think to yourself, he must be somebodys kid playing on the computer. To be sure, you approach him and introduce yourself. As the two of you converse he tells you that he is an intern and will start at Texas A&M in the fall, and that he is only nineteen years old. He also mentions that this is his cubicle and he actually helps design certain parts of the helicopters on the CAD (Computer Aided Design) system. You sit down as curiosity takes over.
The conversation continues, describing how he got the job and internship. He states, how in high school, he filled out an application. As you listen to his testimony, a question starts to form subconsciously in your head. In the middle of his sentence you ask, How do you know mechanical engineering is right for you? He jokingly answers that it was the research paper. You take another sip of cappuccino and a small bite of the donut you snagged on your way in.
For the next twenty-five minutes you drink your drink and eat your eats as this boy described the pathway for his future. It sounded something like this. Determining if this is the future for me or not is a difficult decision, due to the fact that this is the rest of my life were talking about. I have contacted a few Bell employees and some that are not associated with the Bell program. During these interviews, I collected information from various databases including those off the Internet.
Three I intervewed gave me both odds and ends of mechanical engineering (M.E.). Each of the three works in a different type or division of M.E. One orders necessary materials for every part of an aircraft. Another designs and constructs medical equipment. The third, tests materials under stress for the helicopters at Bell. The first of these interviews was with Mr. Jeff Moorse.
Mr. Moorse is a Senior Engineer at Abbott Laboratories in Irving. Mr. Moorse is one of the head designers of medical equipment. Mr. Moorse was the easiest to talk to.
He has great communication skills. He answered every question and left nothing unanswered. He stated that communication is the essential factor in his line of business. When you design something, you cannot make it perfect by yourself. You need outside input to help complete a design.
The only way that is possible is through communication. If you cannot complete an idea or explain what you are looking for you will never have a completed project. Mr. Moorse also included another important element in success, education. Mr. Moorse received a bachelors degree in M.E.
from Buffalo University in New York. He then moved to Irving and received a Masters in Business Administration at University of Dallas at night. The CAD system currently at Abbott Labs is a different version than that of Bells. Mr. Moorse was very enjoyable to talk to. I interviewed him at a cross-country meet so the interview was not set in a business setting.
It was a very comfortable setting and atmosphere. The interview went quite well from my point of view. The next engineer was Mr. James Foster of Northrop Grumman. He is also an M.E. and his title is Staff Engineer.
Hes the guy who orders and researches every single material or product used on an airplane. Mr. Foster gave me a negative look at M.E. since he seemed unhappy. The interview was a telephone interview, which made me feel uncomfortable because I feel like I do not have the persons full attention.
This was especially the case with Mr. Foster. He seemed unpleased with his schooling in that he feels that the university concentrated on subjects unneeded in his work force. He went on about UTA, where he received a bachelors degree, implying that they emphasized only mechanics instead of technical writing. This confused me some.
I thought that M.E. was about mechanics; everyone else seems to agree. At one point in time Mr. Foster said to do his job, you did not need a M.E. degree.
The skill he needs most in his field of work is technical writing. Technical writing is the process of writing order forms for products and trying to convince someone why this material is better than another. Technical writing was a skill that he learned in the field and suggests that I learn this skill now instead of later. Overall, I valued this interview with a lot of respect because of the contrast with Mr. Moorses. First, we have a guy who seems to love his job (Mr. Moorse) and seems very pleased with it.
Then we have Mr. Foster who seems to dislike his job. Third is Mr. Robert Self, my personal favorite. Although this was the shortest interview, I learned the most from this one.
Mr. Self is a new M.E. in the field. He works at Bell and received a masters at Texas A&M. During college, he worked on an internship with Bell. Mr. Self and I tried to get a face to face interview but our schedules would not allow it.
When we made contact on the telephone it only lasted a few minutes, but I learned more than enough. Mr. Self started in saying that he could not talk long due to the fact that two pilots were injured while flying a Bell helicopter. He will help prove that it was a pilots error and not Bells construction or engineering. To me this was cool because it was something he was currently working on and it involved people instead of just machines.
Mr. Self said that most of the time his job is extremely boring. He feels that he is not challenged enough with his current job but feels confident enough that he will eventually be promoted to design. Mr. Self then started talking about stress and one thing he said caught my attention; Work, at times, is stressful and you can never prepare for it. It always hits you like a brick wall, especially when having to meet a deadline like I am right now.
He did not have a negative attitude about his job like Mr. Foster. For some reason, Mr. Self seemed happy to me, and that is how I see myself in seven years. Mr.
Self helped in that he gave me a more realistic view of what is possible for my future. However, one thing that all three guys said at one point in time had something to do with education. Education, education, education the three keys to success; is that not what they say. Mr. Moorse and Mr.
Self emphasized CAD, math and science as three major points of study, while Mr. Foster stood next to his technical skills. After speaking to these gentlemen, I journeyed to the Internet to find education. The number one M.E. school in the country happened to be MIT. Prestigious and notable but extremely expensive, only twenty-two thousand dollars a year. Next on the list was University of Missouri at Rolla.
This is another Ivy League school with a good track record. Out of curiosity I looked into A&M and found out they are extremely strong in M.E. I browsed all three web sites until there was nothing more to read and found that I qualified to go to all of these universities. Texas A&M is the most reasonable due to my financial status. The average undergraduate student now goes for five years for a bachelors degree.
This would mean that I would spend a minimum of seven years to acquire a masters degree. That would add up to quite a bit of money, but I think that it would be worth it (MIT 1-2). Mechanical Engineering has a high starting salary, of anywhere from $32,000-$37,000 for bachelors degree and $42,000 and up for a masters degree. This high starting salary is probably due to the high education level and the demand for M.E.s. The job market is so broad and is still growing.
There probably will not be a shortage of jobs for a long time. The money spent in college will be reimbursed after a few years of a steady job. That doesnt seem that bad now does it? The only thing that might come across appearing bad is the stress factor, but how many jobs are without some kind. The good qualities seem to outshine the bad with no contest. Without a doubt, many doorways will open in my future that will bring me success (CIC 130).
You toss the empty cappuccino cup into the trash, wipe your hands and face with the napkin and throw it away. Both of you are sitting there quietly wondering what the other is thinking. You think why wasnt I this determined when I was his age? Why is a nineteen-year-old boy doing the same work that I am doing? He is thinking about how nicely things have worked out for him. Then the boy speaks, The answer to your question is, it was a gut feeling that this was my path. I followed it a while to see if it was, and here I am. You shake his hand, wish him good luck on his future, and remind him education is truly the key.