Jenn Dandrea Spadafora FAQ

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  • Hi Kaitlyn, I'm glad to hear youre interested in Engineering! Its a great field and you really can do whatever you want with an engineering background. I don't know specifically if whatever school youre looking at has an engineering survey course, but almost all engineering schools do. Usually it would be Eng101. The best thing to do is look at the course catalog for whichever school youre interested in (usually online if you dig) or call their engineering department. My freshman year I started as an undecided in engineering, which put me into the engineering 101 class. 101 was a survey style course where each of the department heads from each engineering discipline came in and spoke to us about their program, what you can do with it, what to expect. We also took tours of the labs and did a few basic engineering projects which incorporated a variety of disciplines. Your best bet would be to check with the school. But Im 90% sure they will have an intro to engineering course for you to take! Another idea would be to look at the websites for: ASME (mechanical engineering), AIAA (Aero Engineering), ASCE (Civil), IEEE (Electrical), AIChe (Chemical), BMES (Biomedical) and whatever else you can find to get a better feel for what each discipline does. And also remember some are cross-functional. I'm a mechanical engineer by degree working on airplanes, which is more Aerospace, but they have mechanical systems. Good Luck! Jenn T Dandrea
  • Hi! First, it's wonderful that you enjoy mechanical/arch classes! I didn't get the pleasure of that type of exposure when I was in high school. Just jumped right into the engineering when I got to college. So, you're already making the right steps. Congrats! As for reading drawing... that takes time! It's a comes with practice type of thing. I still have to read hand drawing at work. I help design/build the Boeing 747-8 right now. The orginal 747 was designed in 1969... and that was way before computers. The sections of the airplane i support are still old school hand drawings. And even i have problems turning parts in my head, trying to figure out what direction I'm looking. A lot of times, I have to turn the paper around. Just pick it up, and rotate it until it fits. For instance, I might have a drawing of an assembly looking down at it.. and I get to the airplane, and I'm looking forward (to the cockpit)... I just take my drawing and move it around so it's in the same view I'm looking. I personally, was really bad at hand sketches in college. I had to take only 1 semester of it!! And it was partnered with a CAD class. With the exception of the airplane I work on, the 747... pretty much all other airplanes in Boeing Commerical are designed in CAD. So I can pull up an assembly, or part, and rotate it in 3D space. Old school hand drawings are not very common in current Engineering. You might have to read blueprints here and there, but overall, especially by the time you enter the field... it will be a lot art!! Unfortunately, all you can do is practice. I'm sure you can find on the web isometric drawing, just stare at some of them, see how the parts are rotated, and drawn. In the real world, you'll have all the time you need, not 4.5hours, to read a drawing. You also have mentors, and people to help. Life is not a school test. I'm still new in my current job, and asking questions is how you learn. Do not get discouraged by struggling! If it was easy, everyone would do it! The stuff I have learned in my career is amazing. And every time I change jobs (I'm on the 5'th since graduating college... I just keep finding more interesting things to do!), it's a new learning process. In this new job, I had to learn sooo much! it's more designed based than I have ever done. And it's old drawings I'm using. And i have to understand materials, build process, manufacturing... I would come home SO FRUSTRATED! My mentor in my job would say 'you'll hear 10000 new things a day. Just remember 5 of them... 5 new things a day. I'm 6 months into this job, and I love it. Engineering is a wonderful field! It's not all reading drawings. You can make CAD design, you can create manufacturing processes, I used to flight on test airplanes, oversee manufacturing lines... drawings and prints is just something you have to get through. Enjoy the challenge. It's what develops you and makes you smarter :)
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