A Day in the Life of a Project Engineer
To share the diversity of our National Young Leaders and their respective careers, we interviewed one of our mentors, Samira Ahmadi, about her previous work as a Project Engineer in Iran. Samira obtained her B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering at the Iran University of Science and Technology and worked as a project engineer for Servo Hydraulics for 2 years. Samira is currently pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manitoba. In our interview, Samira explains what project engineering is and discusses the attributes and responsibilities of a project engineer.
What is Project Engineering?
Engineering projects are diverse and require various team members to keep everything on track. One key team member is the project engineer, who manages the project. They plan the project, allocate resources, and then guide the project from conception to completion. At small and mid-sized companies, project engineers may also participate in designing and developing new products. Given these responsibilities, project engineers should have both technical and managerial abilities.
How does one become a Project Engineer?
The technical skills of a project engineer can be acquired through pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in engineering. If you are interested in project engineering, consider taking electives in engineering project management and systems engineering to learn some useful jargon and to better understand the work. Depending on the company, specialization in a specific area of engineering, such as mechanical, civil or electrical engineering may be preferred. Depending on where you work, you may be required to hold a professional engineering (P.Eng) license.
However, it will take more than just school to gain managerial skills. This is where extracurricular team work, such as being an active member of student groups, can help build these skills. Also, to be a competitive project engineering applicant, having related work experience from a summer internship or a coop can be beneficial.
What are the responsibilities of a Project Engineer and what skills do they need?
Firstly, as a project engineer you have the responsibility of ensuring everything is on track for completion. Every day, you monitor everyone’s assigned tasks. If a task is unfinished or is taking longer than expected, you will have to make decisions accordingly. To help with this, you can use different project management software. You will need to be very patient, inspirational, and hard working.
Secondly, you need to see the big picture- delivering a quality project on time. You need to have a keen eye for details; and recognize potential bottlenecks and other problems before arise.-Being perceptive and prepared are key qualities of successful project engineers.
Thirdly, you need to have strong interpersonal and communication skills. Project engineers interact with customers and other levels of management. You will need to assure everyone that your team can deliver the project on time and within the guidelines of the contract. As such, you will be asked to give regular, detailed progress reports. Sometimes, you will need to explain your project tasks, detail your schedule, and discuss work/resource allocation. You are the expert of your project!
Lastly, you should be an outstanding team player and leader. You are the glue that holds the team and the project together. You should be able to motivate everybody to do their best to accomplish their tasks.
What are the working hours of a project engineer like?
Not only should you be committed to usual 9-5 work hours, but you should be prepared to work extra hours in the evenings and on weekends, especially when deadlines approach.
What are the rewarding aspects of being a project engineer?
Project engineering can be a very tough job, but day by day, you will notice a gradual improvement of your leadership and problem solving skills. If you like a challenging job with daily learning and managerial work, project engineering could be a good choice for you.
If you have any questions about engineering or pursuing graduate studies, Samira would be happy to help through our free National Young Leader Mentorship program. Start your consultation with Samira here.
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