Thursday, 17 April 2014

What Do I Do? Factory Job

My dad asked me a question recently. 

"Chick, what is it, exactly, that you do?". 

This was in reference to my new job, which I'm still settling in to and figuring out, so I couldn't give him a proper answer right then and there. But it did get me thinking about what I did in my previous job...

When I was in varsity, my folks asked me a similar question:

"Chick, your degree is a very good degree, but once you're
finished studying, what, exactly, will you be able to do with it?"

There is pretty much no straight answer to these questions. As students we were told by our unforgettable Maths lecturer that as engineers, we are taught to think and solve problems.* I think that sums up pretty well, what engineers do. But it's also incredibly broad and still leaves you with no idea of what I would do on a daily basis. 

So, in a nutshell, here are some of the things I did in my previous job:
  • Learnt something new most every day
  • Helped to look after and maintain the software that controlled our factory operations
  • Debugged code (and either fixed it myself or got others to fix it for me) when it was causing issues in factory operations, for example when:
    • Valves stayed open/closed and tanks overfilled/didn't fill up - incorrect mass set points in the code
    • A software sequence was stuck on a step - it was waiting for another sequence to end so it could use the same device
  • Helped process engineers to optimise code by testing and monitoring proposed sequence changes with them and noting if it was physically possible or not
  • Co-ordinated weekly maintenance planning meetings and followed up on planned maintenance activities carried out by the artisans
  • Tracked breakdowns that occurred in the plant and put together action plans to improve the ICE (instrumentation, control and electrical) issues
  • Attended project meetings
  • Got called out a lot, in the middle of the night, when my team were battling to solve a software related issue or troubleshoot on the code (definitely the worst part of the job!)
  • Worked on stabilising our control systems by facilitating the upgrading of our servers, sorting out licences and ensuring future projects took the control systems into account
  • Helped to co-ordinate a supply chain graduate induction program in my second year (not exactly engineering, but such fun!)
  • Maintained and kept track of any software change requests that needed to be sent to our 3rd party software guys
  • Helped to commission some projects
This device is one of many that I had to learn to troubleshoot
on at the factory
The key is learning how to interpret the
error messages (and knowing when it's
time to replace the entire unit!)
It was a pretty stressful job, but I learnt so much from it and got to work with the most incredible team. This is just one of many types of jobs that engineers end up in. My current job will be very different from this and once I get my teeth into some proper work, I'll update you on what else an engineer does!

So, now, I hope that you have a better understanding on possible jobs that an engineer can be involved in. 

And, if you're an engineer, what does your day-to-day job involve?

*He also told us that the only three things you need to remember in life are:
1. Your wife's name. 
2. Your wife's phone number. 
3. Where you left your car keys.
And the rest of the things can be worked out if you think about them carefully enough. 
(This is difficult if you're a straight female...but I think it illustrated his point quite well:) ) 

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