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  1. #1
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    Any fellow engineers out there?

    First of all, I don't have a college degree. I went to a Civil Engineering and Technical School here in Croatia, which is actually a high school. There's a big difference between "our" high schools and those in USA but I'm not going to explain that here. That's not why I started this thread.

    I was hoping to meet someone who used to work in AutoCAD or CATIA. Man I miss those. I was supposed to go to some school competitions or something, but my teacher didn't like me much (not sure why I never argued with any teacher) and he chose the other guy and they all ended on the last place. That was hilarious. Before we started to take classes in AutoCAD and later on, CATIA, we had to learn all those basics and "old school" technical drawing things on paper. It's actually much like when people suggest that you start with traditional painting and drawing before moving on to digital art, except, the things that you're supposed to draw are machine parts and stuff like that. You don't have any freedom and style is basically non-existent... not to talk about the imagination. Think like a robot, draw like a robot. But I loved it anyways. Probably because my OCD was so happy with those "HAS TO BE 99.99% ACCURATE" rules. I have to admit tho, some things that I learned back then are starting to prove very helpful and useful when I'm sketching something mechanical or high-tech. It's easier to understand how things work. I still love engineering very much.

    So... are there any engineers that can relate to this or share a story?


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  3. #2
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    I have an art background, but I worked for an engineering company for a lot of years. I didn't do AutoCAD, but I did AutoDesk 3DStudio when it was new and DOS-based (AutoCAD owned them, back in the day). I also did LOTS of technical drawing with pens on drafting vellum, and other kinds of traditional illustration, before computers got into art. Strangely, probably the only art I'll leave behind that will last forever are technical drawings for patent applications. I'm okay with that.

    I was saying to my husband last night, working with engineers was probably the best thing that happened to me. Engineers are refreshingly blunt. They're binary. None of this airy-fairy gray area stuff for them. If they get the numbers wrong, the bridge will fall down and people will die, so they believe in right answers. And reality. That was a healthy message for me to hear, coming out of art school.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).

  4. #3
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    Yeah I totally understand what you mean. One of the teachers was always like: "If you get this wrong, one day people might die because you failed to understand this." It was actually a lot of pressure even tho 80% of us never ended up in that line of work (for example I can't find a job at all). I was constantly worried: "What if I unintentionally kill someone, someday." I liked the drawing part more anyways. I was once sketching something totally irrelevant during a class and teacher suck up from behind and was like: "Son, are you sure you got into the right school?" hahaha.

    I think all that helped me make some kind of a balance between my wild imagination and totally... robotic... order... not sure how to call it.

  5. #4
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    I am a student of architecture but actually most of my AutoCAD stuff I've done before I started uni. I've done gruntwork in AutoCAD for my mother, who is an interior architect, since the age of about twelve. When I started I quite enjoyed all that. Now that I have had to do my own stuff I don't find it nearly that likeable. I prefer 3D modeling, even the annoying bits of it. All in all I think I don't like drafting that much. I am relatively good at it (with ink on paper) but I simply have good hand-eye coordination, I prefer freehanding stuff, like the time I had to do views of old cottages. In my first year we had to do a series of 6x6 cm squares of fine, tight patterns with a rapidograph, 9 with a ruler or some other aid, 9 freehand. There were 9 per page so if you fucked up one, you had to do them all again. Took about 2-3 hours to do one square and fucking up was anything from a ruler smudge, faulty rapi, a twitch to an uneven pattern. Most of my coursemates hated that stuff, I found it therapeutic.

    My history in drafting actually goes further. When I was a kid I used to love visiting peoples houses. I liked to imagine the floorplan, what I would love to change if I lived there, how I'd place the furniture etc. At first I just drew them on paper but I took to computers pretty early and for a while I did my stuff in Paint . Then after I expressed my interest my mum taught me some basic AutoCAD and then I already waddled my stuff on there. I copied a lot from her work and that's how I learned.
    Last edited by nofu; December 8th, 2012 at 08:01 PM.

  6. #5
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    Used to be a physicist... then was an aerospace engineer for a while, then a software engineer... now just a code-jockey.

    I remember having to do the standard projections with the T-square and a mechanical pencil. That was incredibly tedious and boring. Never got the chance to work with Auto-cad. Drafting designs was never one of my favorite things to do. Years later, when talking to friends and them telling me how much easier it is using Cad software, I'll always remember the awful times with that stupid T-Square.

    @Markus: Funny that you say "if you get this wrong, people die". When I was a physicist and aerospace engineer (two different jobs), if I got it wrong, people lived... I used to design missile and weapon targeting systems for the government (US). From there, did some basic work for the US Star Wars project (ground-based laser thermal blooming problem). Eventually, got out of government work and almost worked for one of the first companies doing laser-eye surgeries (early 90's). However, I really really didn't want the stress that "if I did something wrong, people could go blind". The big issue is that I knew enough about computers that, something as simple as a rounding error could easily happen and throw off all of your calcuations.

    Now, the software that I write is just used by researchers.

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  8. #6
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    "working with engineers was probably the best thing that happened to me. Engineers are refreshingly blunt. They're binary. None of this airy-fairy gray area stuff for them. If they get the numbers wrong, the bridge will fall down and people will die, so they believe in right answers. And reality. That was a healthy message for me to hear, coming out of art school."
    -Stoat

    Totally with you there, my old man is a civil engineer, so i grew up living near giant construction sites, and I worked as an architectural CAD surveyor/drafter/tutor while studying for my transport design degree. Plus Im a Project Apollo nerd.
    If i was smarter and could add numbers together and reliably get the same result, Idve loved to be an engineer.
    As it is if im designing game industrial design assets, or working on my own stuff, i always try to imagine how it might work. And I try and pass that on to my ID students; if it looks like it could work, the audience will believe it.
    sb most art copied to page 1
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  9. #7
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    @Doug - The Star Wars project? Wow! I was fascinated by that few years ago. Have to admit, first time I've heard about it was in a video game (World in Conflict), but the name caught my attention so I started to google it and read about it on the wikipedia (tho I don't like wikipedia that much). I'm really a military-nerd sometimes (but heavily focused on US military technology). I used to read all those books about US war machines, weapons and technology... I just want to make something clear, I don't like killing people, wars and death. I'm not an aggressive person at all, it's actually really hard to explain that connection.

    While I was in the high school I wanted to continue with the engineering thing and try to get in this one really good and popular engineering university that we have over here and actually get a job in that field. You know, doing some engineering for the military or just enlist and get an officer rank. But then I decided to move to USA and dropped that college/university idea so I could leave earlier. ... I'm still here 4 years later hahaha. Man, getting that green card is a pain in the ass. But that's another story.

  10. #8
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    Yeppers... the bit that I was working on was two-fold. First, I was working with a bunch of scientists to work on the Thermal blooming problem of a ground-based laser system. When you shoot the laser into the atmosphere, the signal gets reflected back. Unfortunately, a lot of it gets reflected back within the upstream beam. This would cause an energy spike (hence thermal blooming) at the base of the laser emitter.

    Another project that I worked on was really cool. It was designing a missile defense system. The theory was that the command battalions would automatically reposition themselves based on incoming missiles and planes. That was like playing a video game. As the planes/missiles came in, there were algorithms to figure out the least amount of damage to sustain. This was on a sun workstation. It was actually pretty fun.

    The final project that I worked on was designing laser ranging systems through the atmosphere. The laser "lights" up the target and then is reflected off. Based on the intensity of the reflected energy, you have a good idea on how far the target is. The pilot could then pay attention to his counter-measures for a certain distance until the target was in range. Then he could focus on the target. The thing that was a kicker was that there was some poor soul that, sometimes, had to go out onto the battle-field with his laser-targeting system and then "light-up" the target (sometimes the planes would emit the laser, but more times than not, it was some private out on the battlefield)... crazy stuff.

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  12. #9
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    That's super interesting! It's actually something like this; link, right? Do you ever miss it?

    Thanks so much for sharing all that. This really exciting stuff haha.

  13. #10
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    Nah... the stress of the late 80's/early to late 90's was too much for me. Now that I'm getting older (late 40's), there's no real interest in working on weekends and nights (which is reason why I will never be a full-time artist until I retire). Lots of things pass you by when you are constantly working. It's not for me.

    Nowadays, I've got a great job writing neuroscience software (tracing neurons, counting cells, etc) in Northern Vermont. Kind of dropped out of the fast-paced race. Don't have to work weekends to meet deadlines (the deadlines are reasonable). Don't have to work late or all night. Get to go home and relax with the dogs and my wife (although, I do paint/draw every night and I do sell my paintings, but, it's not a crazy schedule as I used to have).

    The company that I work for is mbf bioscience... http://www.mbfbioscience.com . One of the really cool things that I'm working with a couple of developers is to view the large images over the net. These images are huge. One of the software that I work on uses really high-end microscopes and can scan a tissue section into a large virtual tissue. One of the image is 800,000 pixel by 900,000 pixel by 500 image planes. So, the software scans the tissue on one image plane, moves down 1/2 micron to the next layer and then scans again.... over and over again. The image uncompressed is 1.5 terabytes. Then we take the tissue and show it over the internet. It's equivalent of the zoomify software, but allows you to do 3D image stacks instead of a single image plane. It's fun stuff.

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  15. #11
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    That is mind blowing! All these numbers and information, I love that. Who said you had to be Indiana Jones or something to be able and tell interesting stuff, this is awesome! Hahah. Btw I also like to hear when people talk about their jobs this way cos it's usually: "my job sucks, I have to do this and that yadayadayada", but then again, it mainly isn't their own fault for having a crappy job. Some of them have great jobs, and still they bitch about it tho.

    I asked my drafting teacher once why did she apply for this line of work, she could be working somewhere where it pays better. She said that she got few offers in different engineering companies but she wouldn't trade this job for any kind of high salary. She just loved being a teacher.

  16. #12
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    Well, my job definitely sucks sometimes... just like all jobs. However, when I was a consultant, I lived by the rules of "If I'm not having fun more than 3 weeks in a row, then time to move onto another job". However, I DO love what I do (it's much better nowadays, since I'm a senior developer and I'm too expensive to get the more boring tasks... which are reserved for the entry-level developers and engineers).

    Plus, been around to a lot of different parts in the world (yep... not Indiana Jones, but have done Kilimanjaro, Machu Pichu trail, backpacked through the glacier fields in Iceland) and we're pretty fortunate in this country (USA). I have my health, a warm place to live, family and friends, etc. My life is pretty blessed. No reason to ever complain or whine.

  17. #13
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    Ah yeah, the USA. My dream country.

    That's a really interesting life you're having. Wish I could tell this stuff to people who constantly argued how uninteresting engineers life can be hahaha.

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