INTERVIEW

Here is the full 15 minute interview with Jane Doe

About this section

Tell your adience something about this section. This node provides an example interview transcript. Please note that the interview has not been edited nor does it represent a "perfect" transcript. It does, however, provide insight into the interview process.

Who is being interviewed

Interviewee: Jane Doe, Associate Head of Mechanical Engineering


Interview Setting: Interview conducted in a nice café around the corner of the mechanical engineering building. The interview was conducted at 3:30 PM on Wednesday afternoon.


Interviewer: Name


Affiliation with interviewee: Professor Jane Doe has been my professor for two classes. I have also spoken with him privately regarding attending graduate school and areas of study.

And so we begin...

Particularly in regard to design and development, what are your duties as a mechanical engineer?

Do you mean before I took this position or in this position.


Both.
In my position I have now, about half of my time is devoted to counseling and registration and other issues like that. About thirty to forty percent of my time is involved with teaching, doing preparation, helping out in the labs, and helping students. About five to ten percent of my time is spent being involved in academic committees and working with administrative items.


Do you do any research?
Most of my research is education-related. I have a grant from the National Science Foundation to put some CNC machines in the student labs to teach students.

What types of research did you do before when you were an associate professor?

I worked primarily with acoustics and noise control, with my emphasis being in active noise and vibration control. I worked with the aircraft fuselage and all of the vibrations and noises created in there and limiting their effects on the cockpit. Of course, automobile engines are also very noisy being so close to the driver. I also worked with compressors. I worked with really small compressors to really big compressors. I worked on small refrigeration units using passive and active control techniques. You'd be surprised at how big an issue refrigerator noise is overseas, in Europe and Asia with their tight living conditions. I also worked with huge engine compressors of up to sixty horsepower. That's really big for a university, you know. I also worked with reciprocating compressors, screw compressors, scroll compressors, and rotary compressors.


Most of your current grants are education-related though, correct?

That's right, most of them are related to education. But I don't have much time in this job now to do that though. I feel that I need to teach with this job, because I need to have that link to the curriculum and the students.

"One of the big things at Boeing was timing. They had to pull together over 1,000,000 parts to make the 777"

Particularly in regard to design and development, what are your duties as a mechanical engineer?

Do you mean before I took this position or in this position.


How much contact have you had with industry?

I had quite a bit of contact when I worked as an associate professor. I spent quite a bit of time at the Herrick Labs. I worked with a couple of United Technologies companies, Sikorkey Helicopter and Carrier Corporation, who does refrigeration, Aspera, which is an Italian company that makes compressors, General Motors, and some governmental work.items.


Do you do any research?
Most of my research is education-related. I have a grant from the National Science Foundation to put some CNC machines in the student labs to teach students.

What is the difference between designing for a new product versus an older product?

There are a lot of challenges no matter what the product. The military has been bringing old CH-47's in to be repaired. Boeing has been gutting them out, leaving just a shell, and completely replacing the interior equipment. All of the design used to be on paper. The new Boeing 777 was a paperless design. They did a fly-through on the computer to check for interferences and other problems. One of the big issues with the CH-47 was whether to recreate this on the computer. It's a difficult decision. It would make it a lot easier to make changes but it would take a lot longer. So they decided not to do it for this product.


What skills are necessary for a mechanical engineer to possess?

Number 1 is the technical skills. You've got to have those. Next are communication and teamwork skills. There is a need for intangibles to be successful. One of the big things at Boeing was timing. They had to pull together over 1,000,000 parts to make the 777. The engine had to come in at the right time to be connected to the fuselage, which had to be connected to other parts. I realized that what Boeing was doing was just a large-scale integration project. It requires a phenomenal amount of communication and scheduling. Being able to plan and schedule things is so important. You're always behind time, over budget, and have to get deliverables to the customer. You have to make a decision with incomplete information.

It's a lot of gut feel and just making your best engineering judgement and taking your best shot.


What is the typical day in the life of a mechanical engineer like?

A typical day varies radically for mechanical engineers depending on the job you have. A guy doing research is more independent, a guy doing customer service is dealing with people all day long, while a manager deals mainly with projects. It can really vary depending on what you want to do.


What does a graduating mechanical engineer need to know that he probably does not know?

It's not so much what you don't know as much as it is what will change. The things you like to do now might now be what you like to do in the future. Interest change in time and there must be a willingness to change with them. I think another important thing to recognize for some students is that your whole life is not your job. It can be very easy to ignore other things, but I think the real key is balance. The ME program is very rigorous and everyone is working very hard, and as a result sometimes they don't recognize the need for balance.


Thanks for your time.

You're welcome.