What are some of the projects you've worked on?
We work on a variety of projects ranging from medical and laboratory devices (genetic sequencing, tissue harvesting, etc.), consumer electronics (cell phone chargers), energy related projects (industrial solar installations, nuclear fusion reactors), racecars, and much more.
Do you have long projects, or are they usually pretty quick?
It’s highly dependent on the project. We’ve had projects that last only a couple of hours and other projects that have lasted multiple years.
Do you work alone or with people or in teams?
It is project dependent, bigger and longer projects typically have a team involved.
In what kind of environment is work done, indoors or outdoors?
Most work is indoors behind a computer.
How much of your time is spent on the computer?
The majority of my time is spent on the computer, I would estimate about 80%. The remainder is typically spent manufacturing and testing prototypes.
What percentage of your time is/was spent in the various engineering job functions (design, test, development, management, etc.)?
It is very project dependent. Some the projects only require basic design work, others we mostly perform testing or analysis. In most projects we do a bit of everything. All of them involve some sort of management to ensure the project is moving in the right direction, on schedule, and within budget.
How many hours do you work per week?
I work a lot since I’m the business owner, typically 60-80 hours per week. An average engineer would work 40-50 hours per week.
What are the advantages of this occupation?
The wide variety of projects keeps things interesting as you’re not always doing the same thing. Our work environment is quite laid back so it’s a fairly relaxed atmosphere.
Are there disadvantages?
Long hours and high stress at times.
What is your most satisfying experience so far?
I would say that the medical device projects are the most satisfying. It feels good to know that these products are going into market and helping people. Most of the work I do has a positive effect on people in one way or another so it’s all pretty satisfying.
Are there advancement opportunities?
Yes, from an employee standpoint an engineer starts at a basic position doing basic things, and can advance through to senior engineer doing more advanced design and analysis, and finally up to project manager responsible for management of the engineering projects and the engineers working on them.
Does your profession require traveling frequently?
Travel requirements are largely dependent on the project. Most travel, if required at all, is in the US, and most of that in California. I probably travel once every few months.