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Any engineers here start their own business?

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    Any engineers here start their own business?

    This might turn into a long post. Some background: I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Aerospace Engineering Fall 2022. I have interned 4 times with Northrop Grumman, with a broad range of experience. I've worked in design, manufacturing, stress analysis, and some non-engineering roles as well. I am currently full time with Northrop with a "Systems Engineering" title, but I basically do a little bit of everything. My current skillset includes:

    1) Designing metallic and composite parts. This includes a good understanding of GD&T and CAD modeling. I'm a little rusty, but the majority of all 4 of my internships was design work.

    2) Systems engineering. This is mostly requirements analysis, requirements verification, and compliance. Essentially, I make sure that designs as a whole(piece parts and assemblies) satisfy requirements given to us by the customer, and fix the design if something does not comply.

    3) Stress analysis. Mostly using FEA tools and hand calcs. I could have the opportunity to learn structural dynamics/vibrations or thermal analysis if I want to, but I currently have no experience in those.

    4) Basic metallic machining/manufacturing, and many different kinds of composite manufacturing(can't go into details here).

    Now you know my background. All these things are in the Aerospace industry, so I'm afflicted with whatever biases comes with that. I am by no means an expert in any of these topics, however, I can choose to specify in a topic or remain in a broader role.

    I am NOT trying to quit my job and start a business tomorrow. My main purpose with this post is to understand how other engineers were able to start their own firm/company, so when the opportunity arises(in 1/5/10 years) I can recognize and jump on it. I am not restricting myself to the Aerospace industry either, that is just my primary background.

    Here are some specific questions for those who have started their own engineering business/firm:

    1) How did you actually break-through and start it? It seems like a daunting task, coming from the aerospace industry, where seemingly every company has been established for a long time.

    2) Were you actually manufacturing a product, or providing a "soft" service such as stress analysis or GD&T drawings? Or doing something completely different such as inspection?

    3) What industry are you working in? Obviously as I am from Texas, oil/gas is huge, and oil/gas companies have a LOT of engineering needs. I'm not trying to restrict myself to a certain area though; whatever will make money.

    4) Would you recommend I stay in my broad-scope role, or focus and become an expert in one?

    Sorry for the huge essay... and thanks to everyone who made it through

    #2
    I made it through.

    Be patient, Grasshopper. With broad-based opportunities, come many opportunities to fail/learn, until you learn. Lessons gained on someone else's payroll, is better than a college loan.

    Work hard and smart.

    Study up on developing a business plan. Try developing one, even if it is for a Lemonade stand.

    Comment


      #3
      Good Luck!
      I'm 49 YO and have been in manufacturing over 25 years now across Food Ingredient, Medical Device, Plastics Extrusion, & now design the process section of our machines for the thermoplastics industry. It's a niche based technology within the thermoplastics field primarily used for materials development.
      Eventually, I would like to go into consulting and contract myself for machine commissioning, technical support on start-ups, technical support on process development and technical training.
      Current position I am in is priming me for this future role. I get to work with all types of processes and customers so I get a broad exposure to them while I build relationships with the customer base.

      One thing I see is a shift in the industry toward sustainability and bio-based processing. The market is trying to go more toward renewable resources.

      Very interesting to say the least

      Comment


        #4
        It’s interesting that outside of consulting and design businesses, not many engineers own their business. Usually pretty risk adverse crowd prone to analysis paralysis.

        I’d stick to the KISS principle and dabble on the side with something you really like. However, many of the most lucrative businesses started in a niche that most people don’t like to do.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by planomustang View Post
          I made it through.

          Be patient, Grasshopper. With broad-based opportunities, come many opportunities to fail/learn, until you learn. Lessons gained on someone else's payroll, is better than a college loan.

          Work hard and smart.

          Study up on developing a business plan. Try developing one, even if it is for a Lemonade stand.
          Good advice here. Learn on someone else's payroll. I'm BSME TAMU '83. Been in the same petrochemical plant for the last 32 years. The consultants we bring in my area of expertise are all related to rotating equipment & vibration. Some piping & structural vibration. They make big $ but they are not just out of college.

          PS: I had a prof at A&M that said the engineer always ends up working for a salesman. ****** me off but he was not wrong.

          Another prof said upon graduation, "you don't know anything. Your education will begin with your first job. The curriculum is meant to teach you how to think like an engineer." He was not wrong either.
          Last edited by Monark; 05-26-2023, 05:17 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Monark View Post
            Good advice here. Learn on someone else's payroll. I'm BSME TAMU '83. Been in the same petrochemical plant for the last 32 years. The consultants we bring in my area of expertise are all related to rotating equipment & vibration. Some piping & structural vibration. They make big $ but they are not just out of college.

            PS: I had a prof at A&M that said the engineer always ends up working for a salesman. ****** me off but he was not wrong.

            Another prof said upon graduation, "you don't know anything. Your education will begin with your first job. The curriculum is meant to teach you how to think like an engineer." He was not wrong either.
            The free advice these 2 gave you are worth more than the $100k at TAMU. Listen to these 2.

            Comment


              #7
              I was hired out of college by a medical device manufacturer. I spent 14 years working for them and learning everything. Started my own company and have never been happier. I would look for that type of environment that encourages learning and growth within the industry.
              Last edited by BigDraw; 05-26-2023, 09:21 PM.

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