By Danielle Tucker, 2017 AgCareers.com Marketing Intern
Kyle Neher recently began his career as a mechanical engineer as Lab Activities Engineer for John Deere in Ottumwa, Iowa. Here, he tells a little bit about what his role is like and advice he has for aspiring mechanical engineers.
What made you want to become a mechanical engineer?
As I grew up I was always very good with math and science, and enjoyed problem-solving. This led me to trying to solve problems on the farm in unique ways, and eventually I learned about engineering and decided to get my degree in the engineering field.
What is a day in the life like for you?
My role as a Lab Activities engineer requires me to work with product development teams to design and run tests to collect data that will help determine if a part will hold up to its design life when being operated out in the field. These tests can be done in the plant or can take place in the field.
What skills do you think someone should possess to become a mechanical engineer?
I think someone interested in engineering needs to be accountable, responsible, honest, and trustworthy. In order to handle the situations engineers are put in, one must have strong morals to do the right thing when no one is watching to keep the safety of the public in mind. I also believe one must have typical engineering skills, like being good at math and science, thinking outside the box, and being good at problem-solving. Also, an engineer needs to be good at explaining concepts to coworkers who don’t have an engineering background so that everyone can be aligned.
If you were talking to someone who wanted to be a mechanical engineer, what kinds of special training would you tell him or her they need?
I don’t think they need any special training. I would recommend that they work hard to get their degree, get out of your comfort zone and learn to communicate effectively. I also believe that practical experience with mechanical systems is very useful to help understand what is taught in classes.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy the challenging aspect of my job. There’s rarely a day in my job where I don’t have the opportunity to learn more about the engineering field. I also enjoy knowing that I am helping to design and create something that will one day be used by farmers to make their lives easier. And it pays well.
What are the challenges of your job and the not-so-fun parts that people wouldn’t expect?
Depending what part of engineering you are in, you can get stuck at your desk a lot and get forced to stare a computer for most of the day. Some people really enjoy being able to do that, but I am not one of those people. I also think one of the most difficult parts of being an engineer can be when you are faced with making a tough decision. Like stopping production to make sure the quality of a product is up to standards when production is already behind schedule.
What would surprise someone to know about your job?
I think the most surprising thing about being a mechanical engineer is how much we co-align and work with other departments in order to produce a final product. Producing a quality product relies on people with all kinds of backgrounds and educations to come together and work alongside each other to make the process run as smooth as possible.
What advice do you have for aspiring engineers?
Like I said earlier, I believe the best advice I would give an aspiring engineer would be to really work on your communication and leadership skills. I also think having practical experience is very important as it will make understanding what you learn in college much easier. And I’d recommend finding a mentor or someone living the way you want to live when you grow up, and follow their footsteps. This will help get you to the place you want to be in life the fastest way possible.
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