Engineers' Contributions Celebrated During National Engineers Week
Engineers in the United States including those who receive their education at Pennsylvania College of Technology are celebrating National Engineers Week (Feb. 18-24), highlighting the impact engineers make on society by improving the products and processes we use every day.
Jennifer R. Brinkley-Cruz, who graduated from Penn College in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in welding and fabrication engineering technology, is one of those engineers impacting the automotive industry.
She specializes in suspensions and fuel tanks for a major automotive manufacturer, interfacing with manufacturing facilities and equipment builders and helping to design robotic welding cells and lay out production lines.
Contrary to typical visions of manufacturing and engineering careers as monotonous and lacking creativity, Brinkley-Cruz said: "The coolest part about my job is just seeing how creative the team members are. The people working on the production lines are just as involved in improvements as the engineers. If they think that changing or adding a tool in a process will make their job easier or faster, they mention it to their supervisors, then they try it out. If it works, they keep it; if it doesn't work, they take the time to figure out why it didn't work for that application, instead of just throwing the idea out."
Brinkley-Cruz and her co-workers in the same position hold four-year or graduate degrees in engineering and engineering technology fields. A good deal of her work revolves around drafting software, which she uses for plant layouts, machine drawings and part drawings.
And, unlike the "dirty" environment many picture when thinking of manufacturing, Brinkley-Cruz said she was struck by the appearance of her workplace and its cleanliness.
"It was such a contrast to the steel mill I worked in before. It's actually still pretty breathtaking when you come to see the facility," she said. "There are robots working everywhere, automated guided vehicles carrying parts to different processes, and overhead transfer systems shipping anything from tires to car doors to the exact locations they are needed."
"Engineering is a great calling," said Richard C. Peters, former president of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and chair of National Engineers Week 2007. "There's really no other occupation where you can make such an immediate and lasting impact on the quality of life within our society. A career in engineering offers exciting opportunities for people who want to be creative and with so many disciplines to choose from, there's an endless variety to the work."
Brinkley-Cruz said the time she spent in college preparing for her career was worth the investment.
"I look at the four years I spent at Penn College earning my degree, versus the four years I could have worked as a high school graduate with 'training in welding,'" she said. "The difference in work, pay and self-esteem are priceless."
For more information about bachelor's degrees in engineering technology at Penn College which include manufacturing engineering technology, civil engineering technology, electronics and computer engineering technology, computer aided product design, plastics and polymer engineering technology, and welding and fabrication engineering technology call the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at (570) 327-4520, send e-mail or visit the school's Web site.