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#57377 - 10/12/05 04:42 PM Tips for newbie engineer?  
SteveFehr  Offline
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
Chesapeake, VA
I'm an electrical engineer; up until now I've done mostly shipboard electronic work with just incidental power (3-phase delta as well as 115VAC), but I recieved a promotion and will now be working shore communication facilities and infrastructure worldwide, including generators and UPS (fairly big ones, on the order of 500kVA). I'm fairly well versed in the small stuff, like residential NEC, but this will be my first real work in the commercial end.

Anyone have any tips for things that might not be evident? Like cable slap and how to deal with it, and derating and other things that aren't exactly standard coursework in college? I've got a number of mil-hdbks I have to abide by as well as the commercial specs, so everythough *should* be laid out, I'm just worried I might not realize a problem until it's too late.

I'll also be doing work in Japan, Italy, Germany and UK (and probably a few others)- do they all use NEC too? Do most nations use the same permit/inspection methods the US does, or does it differ wildly from place to place?

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#57378 - 10/12/05 06:17 PM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
Redsy  Offline
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
Bucks County PA

Wen you say --
I'll also be doing work in Japan, Italy, Germany and UK (and probably a few others)- do they all use NEC too? Do most nations use the same permit/inspection methods the US does, or does it differ wildly from place to place?

I'd like to inform you that-

It differs wildly from state to state in the good ole'U S of A.

[This message has been edited by Redsy (edited 10-12-2005).]

#57379 - 10/13/05 05:46 AM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
C-H  Offline
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,497
Stockholm, Sweden
I'll also be doing work in Japan, Italy, Germany and UK (and probably a few others)- do they all use NEC too? Do most nations use the same permit/inspection methods the US does, or does it differ wildly from place to place?

Before reading what I've written below, note that the good news follow the bad news! No need to despair [Linked Image]

The inspection vary wildly from place to place, from self-certification to strictly enforced inspections. Read Redsy's answer and apply it to the world... There is no general rule.

The NEC and almost identical codes (everything is relative [Linked Image] ) are used in the United States, Canada, Mexico and a number of countries in central and South America. (Plus the Philippines)

This makes sense because 60 Hz and American style equipment goes hand in hand. As the NEC and the equipment and devices (breakers, receptacles etc.) used for wiring are closely tied to each other, it is natural to use the NEC.

Outside this world, each country has its own code or uses someone elses. For example the British wiring regs are used in a number of countries and the French appears to be used in French speaking parts of Africa. Most of these national codes are based on a code from the IEC in Switzerland which in itself cannot be applied directly. The equipment used for the 50Hz systems are designed around the IEC standards and don't really fit with the NEC.

Now for the good news:
The basic engineering principles are the same. Things have to be grounded, cables and motors need over current protection, voltage drop has to be considered and so on. If you understand the engineering, adapting to different codes shouldn't be too hard.

#57380 - 10/13/05 09:31 AM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
Despite whatever your employer may expect of you, you are sim[ply not qualified to be the "expert" whose signiture is required for approvals.
You will have to develop a relationship with several true experts- the local sparkies- and apprentice yourself to them.

FWIW, I'm also leery of assumptions that "electrical engineers" have any expertise even here in the US; they learned to be engineers, not electricians. Wiring methods, materials, NEC, listing requirements, interaction with other codes, the structure of a jobsite- none of these things are addressed in their curriculum. Nor does a "code class" cut it!

Lest you think I'm picking on engineers, I also have similar qualms about other "related" trades making the transition.

As for working overseas....everything is different (even the way floors are mopped). This in itself can lead to a great deal of stress, which usually comes at the following intervals: On arrival, 1 week, 3 months, 1 year. Be ready for it. Don't be surprised to see most of your co-workers limiting themselves to a local "ghetto" for this reason.

#57381 - 10/13/05 06:24 PM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
LK  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
New Jersey
John. it sounds like he is working for the old RCA Global, they operated most of the older shore stations, to support ship communications, back in the day when CW transmission was king, now everything is sat com, and ships are loaded with electronics.
as a project engineer for this work, what he will need most, will be good contacts for contracted work, they will train him in no time at all.
These projects are really intresting, i enjoyed working them.
Good Grounding,

[This message has been edited by LK (edited 10-13-2005).]

#57382 - 10/14/05 03:15 AM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,223
SI,New Zealand
Please don't take this as everyone getting down on you, especially us Moderators.
I would suggest a wee bit more field experience before you embark on a trip like this.
Not only could you be a danger to yourself but you could be to those around you as well.
Best of luck mate,
Mike. [Linked Image]

#57383 - 10/14/05 05:47 AM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
George Corron  Offline
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
Lorton, Va USA
1 - tie it up, make it look nice

2- run everything at 90 deg angles to structure

3- make sure the materials used, FIT the application.

4 - Overdesign is WAY better than under, it lasts longer and your reputation doesn't take near the beating.

5 - Don't take it personally, you can't please everyone, just make sure your logic is sound.

6 - Use the NEC, and any standard you can hang your hat on liberally, see #4.

No matter if you're an electrician, inspector, or engineer, sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you, a little caution means you usually are the one who gets to taste the meat.

Eat Breakfast with your guys occasionally, you'd be surprise at how much you can learn over a biscuit.


#57384 - 10/14/05 04:20 PM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
SteveFehr  Offline
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
Chesapeake, VA
Thanks for the feedback, guys! It sounds like following local codes is going to be harder than I'd thought, probably harder than the design itself, heh. I suppose experience is really the only cure for this, though, and only one way to get it!

Actually I'll be working for the US Government, which brings up another interesting question- if these facilities are on US federal soil, do I still have to follow local codes, or just US government mil-specs? I was spoiled in my previous job because not only was I the technical authority, I was THE technical authority- we wrote and enforced the rulebook and the only people more senior to us weren't themselves technical enough to do more than just rubber-stamp our recommendations.

The good news is that though I'll be the only EE in this group, there's an ME and Civil Engineer that are experienced and should be able to help me just through the local hoops. The bad news (good news?) is that the actual work will probably be done by the same people in every location, vice locals. Either way, I intend to be on-site for as much of the installation work as I can justify international trips for [Linked Image]

Are there any significant difference going from 50Hz to 60Hz systems, beside different physical components? I mean, is a distro panel in London going to be identical to one in New York, just with a different sticker on the breakers, or are different nations going to be completely different?

[This message has been edited by SteveFehr (edited 10-14-2005).]

#57385 - 10/14/05 07:46 PM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
Rich Thomas  Offline
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 48
Seattle, Washington, USA
This reply is directed to renosteinke's comments about "electrical engineers." Mr. Renosteinke, Sir, your comment comes across a little prejudiced against EE's. You may have many more years in the field than I (I've been in the field since 1958), or you may have more experience than I, but let me tell you that the best electricians I've known and currently know are EE's. Another way of putting this is the best EE's I know are also electricians. Take your pick. The point being, as an EE-PE myself, your comment is nothing but a transparent putdown.

The sad thing is, I think many others feel the same way you do. To be sure, the fields, on both sides of the fence, are filled with competence and incompetence, but one should be careful not to include everyone, and particularly SteveFehr, in such a strongly prejudiced, generalized statement in a public forum.

Now that I've vented some frustration over the generalized putdown, I agree with you about "apprenticing." Every good technical person knows that learning is a life-long activity. I also agree the best way to learn something by doing it with direction from someone more experienced who knows what he's doing.

Again, the best engineers I know are the ones who have learned by doing under the direction of those electricians and engineers more experienced.

As they say, good decisions result from experience, and experience results from bad decisions.

Rich Thomas

#57386 - 10/14/05 08:35 PM Re: Tips for newbie engineer?  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
Sorry if I offended anyone...but my "prejudice" is based upon far too many experiences with engineers- and their trade organisations. There seems to be an "I am the expert" attitude among the engineering community that is simply incorrect; when it comes to things electrical, it is the electrician who is the expert. Period.

Now I will admit that engineers have their uses, but it is unfair for a "newbie engineer" to expect to know anything- after a curriculum heavy in calculations and semi-conductor theory. I was blunt simply because it is unlikely that the college made its' graduates aware of just how little they had learned!

If you ask most any engineer with some time out of school, they will admit that they left school woefully ill-prepared for the careers thay eventually adopted. Can they learn? Yes, they can. That they are later expected to "supervise" or "manage" those who were their teachers is an insult- but that's another topic!

I'll let the engineers in the audience in on a little secret- if you ever hear a foreman refer to a journeyman as an "engineer," that is as big as insults in the trade get, and the man will likely be looking for work soon!

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