Degree Fields
Industry Options
Precollege Ideas
Academic DegreesCareer Planning
University Choice
Diversity & WomenSCCC PodcastsSCCC Newsletter
Meet Professionals
Downloads & Links
Site Search / A -Z

Bookmark and Share


Mechanical Engineering Overview - PowerPoint - Podcast

Robert Rumford

Senior Associate
Engineer
Lexmark International
Lexington, KY

BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Evansville
Senior Associate Engineer, performing finite element analysis of computer printer components; makes recommendations to designers for modifications of parts.
"When you're in college, it's hard to imagine what the workplace is really like or what you can learn by actually being there. It was valuable for me to see how people actually work, communicate, and interact in an office, and I quickly had to acquire and use those same skills."
"The best thing you can do for yourself is to make contacts in a professional setting. Often it's not necessarily what you know, it's more who you know, who they know, and whether they can put you in contact with people and companies that have jobs more suited to you."


Rumford: "I was a theater major for, I guess, a year and a half, and then I realized that while theater was fun and I enjoyed doing it, it wasn't some-thing that would really feed me. I switched to business originally, and then decided that my best bet was engineering and I chose mechanical engineering because it's the broadest base of the engineers."

Rumford: "As a mechanical engineer, I think the machine design class and machine analysis class that I took - and the finite element class also that I took - pretty much encompasses everything that I do in the normal course of my day. In terms of non-engineering classes, I guess just any class that you had to communicate in is helpful. English classes were also helpful, because we end up writing a lot of reports as mechanical engineers; and sitting in on meetings and giving presentations."

Rumford: "It tends to be intensive. The work that we do, depending on the design cycle, is either really, really heavy, or it's really, really light, and so you end up putting in a lot of hours one week, and then maybe not so many the next week."

Rumford: "So as soon as I graduated, I decided, well, I definitely want to go back and get my master's at some point, and that was also a big consideration with me taking the job at Lexmark, was that I could attend UK and they would help me out with it. I thought it was important for me to start grad school right away, so I wouldn't lose that momentum."

Q: Bob, why don't you tell us a little bit about what made you decide to become a mechanical engineer? Was that a decision you made in high school, or is it something that evolved in college. How did that come about?
Rumford: When I was in high school, I thought that I might want to become an engineer, and so when I was applying to colleges, I looked at a lot of engineering schools around the area, and I guess about halfway through my senior year, I was in some advanced physics classes, in calculus and whatnot, and I decided there was no way that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. And so I decided to major in theater, and I started college out as a theater major. I was a theater major, I guess, a year and a half, and then I realized that while theater was fun and I enjoyed doing it, it wasn't something that would really feed me. If I wanted to eat, I should probably get a real job. I switched to business originally, and then decided that my best bet was engineering and I chose mechanical engineering because it's the broadest base of the engineers. My thought was at that time was that I wanted something that gave me skills, that I could use, and no matter what job I ended up with when I finally graduated from college, I would have a good background, and I would be prepared to enter the workplace. And the other side of that was that I was interested in how things worked. I mean I didn't know how a refrigerator worked before I got to college and took thermodynamics, and it's just little things like that. I guess that's the reason I chose engineering as a field of study.

Q: How difficult was that transition for you?
Rumford: Well, I guess in high school I didn't have to study a whole lot. I just kind of skated through it. It wasn't any big deal. But when I was a theater major, we put in a lot of hours, but the work wasn't brain-intensive. I don't know if that's a good word to use or not. But I ended up probably spending as many hours in theater as I did in engineering, but hours spent in doing different things. Engineering was a lot more intellectually intensive and a little more frustrating. The transition wasn't too difficult because I wanted to make the transition and it was something that I decided I was definitely going to go do. But it wasn't hard, but it wasn't necessarily easy either.

Q: So how long did it take you to finish school in total?
Rumford: In total? I graduated in five years. So I got out easy. I didn't do a co-op or anything. I interned over the summers. But I didn't have a co-op, and so I went pretty much five years straight through.

Q: What about your internship? What did you do for your internship?
Rumford: For my internship, I spent the summers between my junior and senior year, and the summer before that also, interning with ASME in New York and I guess that was sort of an office-type position. I did some programming and some spreadsheet designs and forecasting and whatnot. That was a really good experience. Just being in New York was a good experience.

Q: And what skills did you acquire, that were a taste of the real world? What do you think you got out of all that?
Rumford: When you're in college, it's hard to imagine what the workplace is really like, and no one can really tell you what it is until you're actually there, and so in that regard, it was really good. It let me see how real people actually worked, and I also think the communications skills, and the interaction, that take place in an office were really valuable for me to learn and to experience.

Q: How well did you feel prepared to go into the working world?
Rumford: You know there's nothing quite as scary as graduating from college and actually having to face the real world. I think college did a good job in giving me skills and a background that I could work with and use in my professional career, and I guess I was ready when I graduated. I mean I'm still learning now, and I probably will continue to learn until I find a different job or move into something else.

Q: What subject areas that you studied in college as an ME do you use the most? Actually, it doesn't have to be limited to your engineering degree. What do you find you draw on the most from your formal education?
Rumford: As a mechanical engineer I think the machine-design class and the machine-analysis class that I took, and the finite-element class also that I took, pretty much encompasses everything I do in the normal course of my day. In terms of non-engineering classes, I guess just any class that you had to communicate in is helpful. English classes were also helpful because we end up writing a lot of reports as mechanical engineers, and sitting in on meetings and giving presentations. I guess it's more of a broad-based background that you get in college, as opposed to one specific area.

Download Full Profile as PDF

 

 


Science
Technology
Engineering
 Computer Science
 Engineering Technology
 Engineering
  -- Aerospace
  -- Agricultural
  -- Architectural
  -- Bioengineering
  -- Chemical
  -- Civil
  -- Computer
  -- Electrical
  -- Environmental
  -- Industrial
  -- Manufacturing
  -- Materials
  -- Mechanical
  -- Nuclear
  -- Mining
  -- Petroleum
  -- Software
  -- Others
Mathematics
Computing
Healthcare


Students
Counselors
Teachers
Parents
Graduates

      AboutContactsCopyrightMedia SupportSubscriptions