CFD Online Logo CFD Online URL
www.cfd-online.com
[Sponsors]
Home > Forums > General Forums > Lounge

Senior CFD engineers: what are you doing?

Register Blogs Members List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Like Tree3Likes
  • 2 Post By Gerry Kan
  • 1 Post By Gerry Kan

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old   November 10, 2020, 13:14
Default Senior CFD engineers: what are you doing?
  #1
New Member
 
Adrián García
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 6
Rep Power: 3
Tacitus Kilgore is on a distinguished road
Hi all,

I am a young European CFD engineer, mainly devoted to what's actually called CFD application to engineering problems. In this case, working for the aerospace/defence sector. I have been using CFD for 6 years now, starting of course at the university. That being said, I've been working on industry as a CFD engineer for about 3 years, and I would like to ask the most experienced engineers on this forum the following questions:

- Is it too critical the industrial sector you chose in order to move to other sectors?

- After several years working on CFD, what is your current job about right now? Are you rather focused on managing junior engineering teams? Have you left away your CFD/technical tasks and are now more dedicated to a 'high level' role? (MS Excel, Power Point, MS Access...)

- Do you think you could have arrived to your current situation at your company, (in terms of the role you have and salary), by chosing a different career path? E. g. : process engineering, lean, quality engineering etc.

I kindly thank you for your opinions, I am really interested in your thoughts.

T. K.
Tacitus Kilgore is offline   Reply With Quote

Old   November 23, 2020, 12:57
Default
  #2
Senior Member
 
Gerry Kan's Avatar
 
Gerry Kan
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 302
Rep Power: 8
Gerry Kan is on a distinguished road
Dear Adrián:

For the last few years I have gone from an engineering role in the automotive industry to an R&D oriented role in an environmental field. I will speak from my experience from junior to a senior engineer, then team leader.

In some firms there is a distinction between "senior engineer" and "team leader", where the senior engineer is carries through the technical aspects of a project, while the team leader coordinates the efforts of the engineers. In reality, these two roles are often rolled into one. Even as team leader I had to fill in the technical void very often due to various reasons. During those periods I still reserved the first two hours of my work days overseeing team operation, and that's on top of project time. So, when you are a "senior engineer" you will still be technically involved in some way. However, you will be the go to technical person from the junior and managerial ranks, and the one who can pick up and finish the job when your fellow junior / senior fumbles. So be prepared to be put in sticky situations.

In terms of technical field, again it depends on the firm. But usually you either specialize "vertically" (industrial sector) or "horizontally" (technology and methodology). You want to give yourself a reasonable high degree of flexibility because industry demands change very often and very quickly. A firm with a good mentoring program will introduce their juniors to different technical aspects of their core business for the first few years. In my opinion, when you are a senior engineer, your range is just as important as your subject expertise. I personally would strongly recommend working on diversification even after your rotation. Don't go complacent and keep yourself continually updated.

As for leadership, the first thing you need to realize is that in order to get things done as a team, you have to delegate some control to your teammates. This might sound obvious, but coming from a position with full control over your own work, the urge to micromanage will always creep in. It is best to get rid of that temptation early on. Another major aspect is interfacing with your prospects, clients, and customers. Don't see that as something below your dignity (unless you are asked to close the deal, but that's sales and not you). It is through your interaction with the money end that you put your own work in context, and learn what others, especially your competitions, are doing. This is, in my opinion, where the real professional development starts.

Finally, a word of caution - the grape vine. Even though senior engineers and team leaders are still relatively low in the organizational totem pole, there are plenty of politics to go around that would affect you professionally and personally. I have witnessed and worked with enough senior engineers and team leaders whose sole modus operandi consists of indiscriminate elimination of real or imagined threats and are proud of their achievement. If you find yourself in this situation, even as a junior, seek political support to get things done or simply stay around (again, easier said than done).

Hope that helps, Gerry.
Tacitus Kilgore and aero_head like this.

Last edited by Gerry Kan; November 24, 2020 at 04:01.
Gerry Kan is offline   Reply With Quote

Old   December 11, 2020, 12:04
Default
  #3
New Member
 
Adrián García
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 6
Rep Power: 3
Tacitus Kilgore is on a distinguished road
Thank you for your answer Gerry, I have really found it quite profitable and interesting.

That being said, I would like to clarify my understanding on the importance of the sector where you work in order to move to other sectors as a CFD application engineer:

There is plenty of sectors where one might be involved on CFD (naval, aerospace, automotive, health...), which means we have the opportunity to move ourselves from sector to sector for whatever reason. However, from my experience, (I am talking of Spain, but this may apply also to other countries), even for those jobs that require a certain technical knowledge to perform such simulations, carry out analyses and defending new ideas to improve products/processes as a CFD application engineer, generally the recruiting staff consider mandatory a minimum of (5, 10 15 or even more) years of experience on that specific sector to actually being considered for their offer. Of course, I believe such specific experience can be good as you might have gained some vertical specialisation on that sector and that could be of great interest for the company you are willing to move to, but I don't really think it is that important after all, since pretty much of the knowledge you need as CFD engineer doesn't really depend 100% of the sector your working for, plus working for any different sector could have given you new ideas/concepts that could be applied on the new sector you are going for, thus potentially giving you an advantage when compared to someone who only worked for that sector.

To sum up my questions: in order to achieve a senior/team leader engineer role, is it better to stay fixed on a specific sector and specialise yourself vertically? Would you rather be willing to work for other sectors and hence acquire a horizontal specialisation? What is your advice?

Thank you. I would be pleased to hear any other's ideas if possible, too.
Tacitus Kilgore is offline   Reply With Quote

Old   December 12, 2020, 19:08
Default
  #4
Senior Member
 
Gerry Kan's Avatar
 
Gerry Kan
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 302
Rep Power: 8
Gerry Kan is on a distinguished road
Dear Adrián:

When you are in a senior level, there is probably some level of vertical specialization. That is, if you are in marine, you are not likely to be expected to branch out to, say oil and gas, as you move up. What would be expected of you is to expand on different aspects of your vertical, while working on different techniques.

It is relatively easy to expand horizontally than vertically, as you will have to pick up all the field-related nuances of the new vertical field, including business contacts. These are usually not text-book items and take much more time than, say, picking up a new simulation technique or software package. This is why HR prefer people with a minimum 5 or 10 years of experience in that field. Whether such requirement is realistic, is another issue altogether.

Now when you are already working in a specific field, you would still need to broaden the vertical aspect. In this case, various technical aspects within your current field. For me this is more important as your responsibility increases.

When you find it necessary to move from one field to another (say, from auto industry to oil and gas), it would at least be useful to find some transferable skills. This might seemingly strike anyone as obvious, but to find anything concrete enough to be convincing to your prospective employers will be quite a bit of effort. Needless to say, the broader you are horizontally and vertically, the easier you will be able to demonstrate your flexibility.

Gerry.
aero_head likes this.

Last edited by Gerry Kan; December 18, 2020 at 07:28.
Gerry Kan is offline   Reply With Quote

Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
BIM helpful for structural engineers bluentcad1 Autodesk Simulation CFD 0 October 25, 2016 05:54
Why engineers always prefer to use FEM for heat transfer modeling Anna Tian Main CFD Forum 4 October 9, 2012 16:12
solution manual of Fortran for scientists and Engineers hatef_khaledi Main CFD Forum 1 August 11, 2011 08:46
CFD Jobs for Newly Graduated Engineers mecestudent Main CFD Forum 1 November 13, 2010 17:23
computational fluid dynamics for engineers. CFD newbee Main CFD Forum 0 February 5, 2008 02:34


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:57.