In todays world where we look at an integrated approach as it is essential that the engineer whether fresh or experienced no longer thinks of himself as an island – an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer or a civil engineer.
Today we look at any field it demands an integrated approach and a multidimensional perspective.
Let’s look at a very simple process approach where we have Design Production Testing Sales and Marketing Installation and Commissioning and After sales service.
It’s a simplistic approach but it has been adopted to address the fresh engineer than the battle-scarred veteran.
Today in the design perspective with extensive use of programs such as NASTRAN/ ANSYS/ MATLAB. The knowledge of a design engineer must go far beyond sketching designs in a notebook or the drawing board.
Every one of your designs can be verified and checked by the software whether it is the mechanical or electrical or thermal properties to just name a few.
A mechanical engineer from making a CAE model in NASTRAN must learn to make a physical model and then test it with techniques like modal analysis and use tools like FE correlation to compare the computer model and the test model (as depicted in figure-1 below).
Figure-1 simulation of correlation analysis
The electronics/ instrumentation designing the software and the test and measurement instruments had to convert his knowledge into the language that the mechanical engineer can understand. A simple example where poles and zeros and FFT analysis are day to day terms for an electronics engineer – What information does it convey on the mechanical properties like damping(as shown in figure-2 below) which is what a mechanical engineer is looking at.
Figure-2 Example of frequency domain analysis
From converting a lab prototype to a final working model acceptable to the industry the engineer must understand the actual operating environment and the material selection which would demand chemical and metallurgical knowledge.
Then a product in the market would also demand compliance to technical standards and ergonomics as per market perspective. The installations also demand a costumer friendly and ease of customer service. Figure-3 shows the product development process right from design through manufacturing process with integration at various stages.
Figure-3 Product development Process
It is such a perspective that engineering colleges should inculcate and create a multi-disciplinary approach from the beginning of the course. This gives a final product a graduate engineer who is not an individual living on an island but a fully rounded, technically equipped engineer.
Membership and active participation in organizations like ISA provide the much-needed integrated approach and a continuous industry interaction of faculty and students ensures the best all round competency developed.