How it is like to be a project engineer …
Working as an engineer in a project is very hard most of the time. Every day you have to face different difficulties, to teach yourself new tasks and learn how to be self-organized. To be honest, that is exactly what I like about my life as an engineer - you never know what tomorrow may bring.
Some engineers working in offices for many years rarely know what it means to work in a project. A project is usually a process, a generation plant, or a pipeline. Sometimes it can be a construction, but even in this case the buildings have much in common with a plant, because nowadays constructions have a very complex engineering system.
Being for the first time in a project can cause many difficulties. You should clearly understand your role and field of responsibility. In many cases, neither a project manager nor anyone else in the project can help you if you have a concern regarding your work, because many engineers worked there whole life in one specific field. That is why you can’t expect them to know your field, but you have to find your own way of handling things.
It can be very useful if you find out which system of standards is being used in this particular project. ISO, GOST, API or maybe a local equivalent? You also want to familiarize yourself with the technical description. It will help a lot if you learn some basic figures of the plant by heart. You can usually find the relevant information stored on a network drive and you should manage to get access to it.
My last project …
The last project I was in was a big challenge for me. The first week was my settling-in period, because I first had to find my role and my field of responsibility. The time I needed to get to know the project and grow into my job was a little unpleasant for the project manager. He had high expectations and as he told my colleague and me that we have to change something about the way we work, we knew that we have to convince him of our qualities.
In the end, we did but it was not an easy journey. The one task I will never forget was when a costumer asked to prepare a package of documentation. These documents were written in Polish and neither my colleague nor I could speak Polish. The fact that we both have knowledge in other Slavic languages helped us a lot. The next challenge was that the package consists of civil and mechanical documentation, although my colleague is a planner specialist and I am a process engineer.
After the struggle it took to prepare the documents, it was a real relief to hear that the costumer had accepted these and finally, we were appreciated by the project manager.
As you see, you have to face many difficult situations right from the beginning. When working as an engineer you have to have many good qualities not only the technical knowledge. However, this project or job in particular wasn't anything I learnt at the University, but it was a clear example of a project work. A work, where you need to learn every day a skill, you were never confronted with and you never imagined you'll have to learn. Printing 4-meter long drawings, writing application in Polish or testing high-pressure pumps? I never imagined that one day I would have to learn this but in the last projects, some undiscovered talents of myself appeared. This is the reason why I like to work at projects - you never know what you will have to do tomorrow, but you know that there is nothing you can't learn.
© Schultes & Partner, Article by Dmitry