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Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 176
I am an electrical engineering student (as mentioned in all of my posts), and well, I don't wanna be the electrical engineer that sits at a computer all day designing a piece of crap that will end up on an infomercial... I actually like electrical WORK, but due to physical complications, i could not pull wire through conduit all day crawl through attics, etc. Are there any jobs where one could be an engineer and technician at the same time? Please forgive my ignorance on the topic, but i figured it's better to ask a stupid question than to ot know the stupid answer.

Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 300
There are "field engineers" in all the different areas of engineering. These are the guys who go out and solve the technically complex problems that come up.

But, most engineers aren't made for it. A guy who's great at math and physics, who can spend hours a day reading texts on numerical analysis and electron tunneling usually just isn't the same guy that can look at a real-world problem and solve it.

We need both types of people, but rarely find them in the same place.

If this is what you want to do, find a co-op program or at least summer internships that will get you out in the field while you're still in school.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,445
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
Sure, the jobs exist- but you have to do a little thinking "outside the box."
Been to Iraq or Afghanistan lately? Seriously- the engineering firms that work there have lots of guys who are out on the ground, solving probs you never dreamt of! They are also training the locals to keep thing running.
Closer to home, the FAA maintains/operated the airport landing systems- everything from radar to runway lights.
How's your security clearance? Civilian contractors maintain the enormously involved instrumentation used to monitor training exercises at the various sites (such as "Top Gun" and NTC).

WHich brings up a trade group you ought to know about: ISA. The Instrumentation Society of America qualifies techs in categories that are up to Master's degree level in various control technologies. Their certifications are essential in, among other things, the pertoleum and chemical industries. They -and not the NFPA, or UL- are the real experts in hazardous locations, as an example.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,928
Likes: 34
I worked with field engineers when I was inspecting for the state (Florida).
They were usually contractors, not state employees, who were hired to OK site driven changes to mastered plans. It looked like a pretty interesting job. They seemed to be operating is a fairly "wild west" mode. If the engineer stamped something and it looked safe to me, off we went. The jobs were as mundane as a tool booth (MM99 on I75) or as exotic as renovating a 1926 mansion/museum (CaDZan in Sarasota).

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 49
Most of the engineers in process industries (such as oil, pulp & paper) do a combination of both field & desk work. Coming from that background myself you learn an awful lot doing the engineering and then overseeing the installation and start-up. I would think that the electric utilities have a number of slots where you are not desk bound day after day. By the way, good luck with your engineering career, It's been good to me over the years.

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 717
There are all types of people who are engineers. I have worked with some very competent in the field type guy's who also were electrical engineer's. Some make for excellent project manager's, particularly on large system integration projects. Not only do these systems require extensive installation expertise, but also the ability to manage a lot of capital expense, and employee's. It seem's to me that the best engineers are people who have that natural ability to tackle all parts of the engineering from the design,thru the field and also the money management end.

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,723
Likes: 1
Broom Pusher and

Go for it, dude!!! (I know, the "dude" term... sounds silly!).

I have been doing the very same thing for many years! If I am not doing something Design related (read: "AutoCAD, Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor, Eyes red and watering... yadda yadda yadda), I'm in the field doing something (Working Foreman, Stupidvisor, "Working" Project Manager, or world class broom pusher!).

The hardest things to deal with are:
  • First 2 weeks, maybe upto a full month, adjusting to the task changes - works both ways, going into the field, AND going into the CAD realm!
    Expect to feel the impact over this time period - hardest comes after the first weekend, and becomes easier in an exponential fashion,
  • Some Field Personnel - especially very arrogant Forepersons, will try as hard as they can to be ... well, the term I am thinking of rhymes with "Gas-Poles" to you...goodness knows what's up with that behavior.
    Try not to let it effect you - either in an angry response, or worse, having to answer to someone because the "Gas-Pole" is trying to undermine you with "Sheeeet Talk"!

That's about it!

You will really enjoy the experience! If the crews you work with are interested in the Sciences, man, you can explain the things that they are unsure of - and more!

There are a few tasks that are so redundant and boring, it's nearly mind numbing!
Light fixtures in T-bar ceilings is one such task. Boring enough to put speed freaks to sleep!
Roughing in for Receptacles is another task with a high anesthetic value!
Trim is less exciting than having an impacted tooth extracted!

I am over emphasizing these tasks' yawn levels, but nevertheless they are boring.

Good luck!


Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 135
Scott, I always wondered about the mentality of "gaspoles" giving you guys a hard time in the field. I guess they just think engineers are pencil pushers and they'll grant you no respect. I've always tried to learn and ask questions when I encounter an engineer on the job and they're usually happy to oblige. Well I guess that's just the so called 'human condition' that we all have to deal with.

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,928
Likes: 34
I guess I have just been lucky but on most of the jobs I worked on there was plenty of work to go around so we didn't have too much second guessing about the other guy's job.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
I have worked with, and for electrical engineers who were very knowledgeable when it came to our industry.

I have also found that the "street savvy" electrician, and the electrical engineer go well together, as long as an ego is not in the way.

A young engineer may find the following position challenging.

PS: Scott35, I believe you can wear both hats and do very well all by yourself!

Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant
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