Importance of Basic Engineering Knowledge

pulling_tensionTechnology advancement is a known fact. Hand held computers are now more powerful than the super computers 3-4 decades ago. Software technology have produced tools that provide a solution to a complex problem in a matter of seconds.

These advancement in technology however makes the Engineer dumb caused by their reliance on their software. All the engineer need to do is to input parameters and all the required solutions will be presented by the software. An engineer is not needed to do these stuff. An encoder or just a administrative assistant could do it. As long as they know how to use the software.

In one of the projects that I work with, my Electrical drafter left the project due to some personal reasons. There is a pool of CAD drafter but in other disciplines such as piping and mechanical. I always reminded the project manager to employ someone with electrical engineering background, however, I always get a reply if I could utilize other drafters. I replied with hesitation, "yes" but productivity will be affected.

An electrical plan just consists of lines and circles connected together. That is the notion other discipline have on electrical plans. And the answer I always get, "I could do it". Yes, that is true, they could do it, but how many markups do I need to do for them to do the right job. It may have been better if I will be doing the drafting myself.

Same with other software tools, the engineer should be able to analyze and understand the results provided by the software. Without basic engineering knowledge, how could the engineer do it? I once have a conversation with another Electrical Engineer about the installation of cable on an underground cable duct. I presented him that distances of pull boxes need to be 150 meters or less as these is the result of my calculation on allowable cable pulling tension. He replied back, as a rule of thumb, I always use 100 meters.

Alright! He used 100 meters as a rule of thumb, but does he really understand why? Nope. Does he understand if he is installing more than he requires? Nope!

A simple calculation to support some assumptions is much better than having nothing at all. In the event that somebody will challenge our decision on our assumptions, we will be able to present some supporting calculation to strengthen our position.

The importance of basic engineering knowledge is inevitable in every aspect of an Engineer's job. The basic formula of Ohm's Law is actually used in many forms but knowing that the formula is Ohm's Law will make it much easier to understand.

About the Author

Ver Pangonilo
A Filipino Engineer, Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) - Australia and Professional Electrical Engineer (PEE) - Philippines with extensive experience in concept select, front-end engineering, HV & LV detail design, construction and commissioning of Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Area electrical installations in water and waste water pipeline and pumping facilities, offshore platforms, hydrocarbon process plants and pipelines including related facilities. Hazardous area classification and design certification (UEENEEM015B, UEENEEM016B, UEENEEM017B).
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