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Joined: May 2005
Posts: 1
kad8830 Offline OP
Junior Member
Hi! I am new, but have read the postings for a while. I always enjoy the code section postings...

I am an electrical engineer in San Jose, CA, and a recent graduate. I am finding there is a lot I didn't learn in school, and I am quite sure I have made several contractors frustrated by not knowing what I am talking about.

I would like to set up a program where engineers could shadow electrical contractors, and really understand what engineers are telling you to install.

I am interested in some feedback from contractors as to what might be the advantage of this program from your stand point, how to get contractors interested in this project, what organizations might be interested in supporting this cause, etc. I know of many engineers interested, but I don't know how to let contractors know about it.

Also, if there is a similar program set up in your area, I would love to hear about it.


Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,942
Likes: 34
I think it sounds like a great plan. I have been on all sides of this business and some of the biggest problems seem to be because of the stratification of the various professions. The college professors don't usually have experience in the field and the engineers don't actually have to install the equipment they design. The actual installing electrician doesn't usually doesn't understand the design issues, politics and economics that drove the engineering decisions.
I think everyone should spend some time working in the other areas, just to see what goes on.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
Welcome to ECN. [Linked Image]
What a good point you bring up and not before it's time either.
I also agree with Greg, in his saying that we could all do with a bit of time in the other persons shoes.
I come from New Zealand and one big problem we have here is that the fact that most Architects and Draughts-people have never spent a moment with those of us that actually install the stuff that they design.
Not a huge issue but, sometimes, a lot of on-site changes could be avoided if there was better consultation, hey not from the Architects, but there is a certain amount that the installing Electrician could do to make life easier for the Architect, which in turn would make for more concise plans.
The ball is pretty much in everyones court.
It's just simple teamwork.

[This message has been edited by Trumpy (edited 05-15-2005).]

Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 30
This is a great idea. There really seems to be a lack of engineering support out there. The engineers I have worked with, in several large institutions I have worked in, usually did a minimal amount of research and planning for projects. They then produced a weak set of plans (if any at all) and then relied on the electrician to engineer the job and do the work. I can not count the number of jobs where I had to do the engineers work as well. Where the plans were useless and did not reflect the conditions on the job. Most meaningful solutions to problems were found by me. I think they were usually afraid to make decisions that they might have to take responsibility for in the future but they were more than happy to let the electrician do it (just as well). And yet when I was involved in meetings with some of these people (and their superiors) they had all the answers . Funny how that works.

I'm sure engineers have problems meeting deadlines etc. but I think they need to co more legwork when planning projects. Maybe I'm wrong but there seems to be an attidude that their job is done when they deliver the plans.

As far as your project goes I'm all for it. I just think you will have an uphill battle convincing most engineers that electricians know anything more than how to turn a screwdriver. Good luck.

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,803
Ah! The Institute of Meetings Engineers!
aka: I! ME!

Rule 1. Make sure your hair looks good.
Rule 2. Steal all your underlings ideas and knowledge and pass it off as all your own original work.
Rule 3. Get to meetings early and scoff all the coffee and donuts before the underlings arrive.
Rule 4. See rule 1.

been there!

Wood work but can't!
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233
I too feel that it would be in the best interest for engineers to get out in the field to see how it installed. I use to work with an architect and to him, moving a wall over 2 feet meant nothing more than erasing a line on a plan. He never knew that in that wall was 15 cables, CATV wires, Telco lines, plumbing etc. Plus to relocate that wall it would be about 3 days worth of work and thousands of dollars. He also would try and cram every piece of mechanical equipment into the tiniest of rooms. Thank goodness for the workspace req. of the NEC.

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
I'm only 35, so I have know idea how true this is. I used to work for some older electricians who descibed the old days.

From what I understand, is prior to WW 2 all kinds of trades were set up differently. And everything from furnature makers all the way up the line suffered skill loss. Many of the constuction engineering and archetectual trades actually had to work on site in the field as an apprentice to a senior engineer or arch'. And most often on larger projects were on site nearly full time.

(Gaudi usually built his office on site first.)

After WW 2, there were a huge amount of people coming back, who dove into schools, and fast tracked directly into professions, without that apprenticeship. And later after, Korea and Veitnam, simular things happened, and new professionals came out of schools were then refered to as Interns. Rarely left the office, and rarely made it to a work site.

(The formulas for concrete and mortar were lost for hundreds of years after the fall of the Roman Empire.)

So today, most plans have a rubber stamp from an Engineer, who may never have vistied the site, and the plans arrive via PDF, or CAD to a Copy shop that delivers to our office. Often my only interaction with an engineer is faxing back a list of existing equipment. What I get back is a boiler plate that says in short,"follow applicable codes and standards", and some title 24 calc's, the rest is left up to me.

A guy who used to work under me, is now in an engineering program. I think he's going to go far, and fast, just due to the fact that he knows how things actually go together.

I would like to set up a program where engineers could shadow electrical contractors, and really understand what engineers are telling you to install.
IMO, that should be required by the entity that issues your stamp. I had to get signatures from people testifying that I had worked in the field for the required hours before I got my license. Maybe a minimum amount of hours should be required.

[This message has been edited by e57 (edited 05-15-2005).]

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,445
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
In the service, this is called "cross training." It is one thing that is essential, even if it has little place in the way todays' workforce is trained.

How about this take on the issue....Enegineers' plans to be approved by the electrical comtractor, or master electrician? Engineers are, by training, math-happy, and can usually be trusted to do the calculations right- but haven't a clue otherwise. Engineering schools spend absolutely no time training their students in the "real world" of actually making thngs.

Show me any great "Engineering" achievement, any I'll show you something that was buitl, problems that were overcome, by skilled tradesmen- often in spite of the engineers!

Though my rant isn't aimed at engineers alone....electricians also need to know something about the plumbing, HVAC, telecom, alarm, computer, and other trades. I would especially like to see sparkys spend some time with a PoCo line crew.

In other words, I oppose the current straight-line approach to job training, one that has resulted in "Inspection Technology" programs that churn out 'inspectors' who have no job site experience whatever!
I also oppose the effort of engineers' groups to expand their authority...why, there is even a proposal for the NEC that gives the "Professional Engineer" the status of being the only expert in Article 500 (haz loc) installs- when even the freshest Journeyman is sure to have more training in haz loc than almost every PE.

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
Edison worked with his hands, in a shop!

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
LK Offline
"I would like to set up a program where engineers could shadow electrical contractors"

This program already exists, it's called apprentice electrician, and as a graduate engineer, you would only need 3 years not the full 4 years.
For any engineer that desires to work in the field, there is no short cut, EIT programs already exist with many large, and medium size construction companies, and manufacturing firms.

E57 post shows, how the dumbing down of engineer training started, I belive the engineering schools, are starting to address this problem, by expanding EIT requirements and, having students define their area of interest, to allow early entry to field programs related to their career path.

No new program needed, just pull up those shirtsleeves, we have helped many engineers over the years, and in turn we have learned how engineers operate, and how to work together.


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