When an average person on the street hears the term ‘engineer’, they think of someone that has some sort of technical ability with possibly only a surface-level idea of what engineers really do. Ask a group of collegiate students and most outside of the engineering school will provide almost the same answer—“Engineers” are the people that are always busy doing homework or something. ..“They build things right?” These are a couple quotes I have heard during my college career. Now that we have tackled the operative word, let’s add a word of description: quality.
When I started working at PASA, I originally imagined a Quality Engineer as someone that gathers information about something and checks how well that something is performing. I asked my coworkers for a more in-depth explanation of a ‘Quality Engineer’—I wasn’t entirely wrong or right. Quality Engineers manage (research, fix, improve) the problems to basically keep good business with the customers that the corporation has. Their explanations blew my mind until I began to receive projects. It finally hit me, how important relationships were. As a quality engineer, one doesn’t necessarily spend all day making, inventing or improving a system; one has to compile a good deal of data and have a decent personality. You have to be able to interact and discuss specifications and/or issues with a certain level of understanding. This understanding basically keeps everything running smoothly.
Here are three easy tips that I picked up for keeping quality in your engineering:
1: Keep the customer happy. You want to keep the customer happy for not only obvious reasons (money), but also for publicity and new and old, lasting customers. When you do your work, the customer is happy. When the customer is happy, your manager is happy, and when the manager is happy, you are happy. Then, the whole office is happy. One thing about happiness: good times generally found not too far away.
2: We are a team. We need each part of the puzzle to be the best at what they do. There are teams with people working with one or two customers, but there are also many manufacturing plants around the world. Sometimes this time difference (information or knowledge of systems) makes a huge difference. If something were to be asked of me about specific data from coworkers in different time zones overseas, it will be difficult to communicate with colleagues that are already in bed. So, we would need to be cooperative and compromise on the best method of communication to get the project finished. Lastly, you have to know your audience and know your information. Information is almost meaningless if no one can understand.
3: Know your data. As an engineer in general, one will see a good deal and all types of data throughout their career. As a Quality Engineer, this is important. You will receive all of the problems from your customer and you will need to figure out how to fix it and improve the process that causes the problem. I receive a list of the rejects from two customers every day. I have to compile it and make a short report to my manager. I have assembled a check sheet for record keeping of different problematic parts to be able to say, “Okay, we have already checked this part,” instead of guessing what is going on and having to recheck reports. Another one of my projects was to research problems and history, brainstorm improvements, and present a new method of checks for barcodes. By knowing the information and data, a substantial amount of time wasted time was avoided. This freed up my coworkers’ time when I was able to easily explain and get the job done in a timely fashion.
I can say that since I have been here, I have grown in the areas that my manager said I would: communication skills (in a technical and casual sense), appropriate interpersonal skills (cross-functional culture), and solid analytical skills. When my time is over for this internship/co-op, it will be easy for others to learn from the quality that I have picked up in the department bearing the name.