“Listen to the engineers with gray hair, for they have much to teach you. They have walked among the rocks and boulders, and know how to climb the steep inclines.”
With these words, veteran engineer and educator Harry T. Roman introduces his new IEEE-USA E-Book, one that he wrote especially for young engineers. Packed with solid, practical advice, Tips for Young Engineers offers dozens of useful, career-building ideas the author acquired during his 36-year career with Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), the largest utility serving New Jersey.
“My company guided young engineers very carefully,” writes Roman, “and brought them along in the time-honored tradition of learning the ropes with an experienced engineer close by.” But he cautions that today’s young technical professionals “will likely change jobs a number of times during their engineering careers.” Such transitions place the need for initiative and resourcefulness squarely on the young engineers’ shoulders.
In nine concise chapters, one for each major facet of developing a technical career, the author discusses specific steps that young engineers can take to advance themselves–for both immediate and long-term benefits. For example, Roman encourages every engineering professional to build their own personal contacts database. He describes it as “a journal of the people you meet–such things as contact information, subjects discussed, expertise–and perhaps some notes about what strikes you as interesting about them.” He recommends starting a contacts database when beginning a new job, or embarking on a major assignment, such as a joint project with other companies and their staffs.
“It doesn’t matter whether these people work for your organization, or another company,” Roman writes. “Face facts. It is not only about what you know, but who you know.”
He believes strongly that young engineers must put a high priority on developing good communications skills. Such skills include taking good notes at conferences and meetings; and then writing clear, informative reports that can you can provide to colleagues and managers back at the office.
Another aspect of honing your communications abilities is learning to give oral presentations before your bosses and colleagues. “I’ve never seen engineering careers ruined because of incompetence, but I’ve seen plenty run aground because of poor communications skills–especially poorly executed oral presentations,” he says. Roman believes that engineers must be articulate to survive in today’s global economy.
“Your presentation skills are always going to be on display, even when you’re being interviewed,” he points out. “It may just be the greatest skill you’ll ever learn!”
Not surprising for someone who has been an IEEE member for 44 years, Harry Roman believes that joining IEEE is essential; either while a student, or just starting one’s career. “The downstream benefits are incredible,” he writes, and I can attest to its value in my career and professional growth.” Among the benefits of IEEE membership, he cites: Access to one of the best technological libraries in the world; attending cutting-edge conferences; meeting engineers from all over the world; access to educational webinars and symposia; and publishing your research in highly respected publications.
The author also encourages every young engineer to become involved in IEEE, as the organization “opens many doors to exciting projects, and provides exposure to “the movers and shakers of the electrical engineering world.”
“Being involved as an IEEE member really turbo-charges your career,” he writes.
The author speaks from experience; long active in engineering education, for both IEEE members as well as pre-university students, he has been honored with many awards for his contributions.
Other career-building topics that Roman discusses in this e-book include: documenting field visits; writing technical papers; compiling an ongoing career history; and intellectual property considerations.
In PSE&G Research & Development, where he worked for 36 years, he directed and consulted on over $100 million of projects and programs, and also taught graduate-level project management classes at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Tips for Young Engineers is available for $5.99 to members; and $7.99 to nonmembers at shop.ieeeusa.org.