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Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

  • 1.  Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-17-2021 16:49
    Hi Everyone,

    I have been working as a non-specialized mechanical engineer for more than 8 years now. But I developed a lot of interest in metallurgy, corrosion etc. It seems there is a requirement for most relevant positions to have a materials engineering degree. 
    Can anyone provide feedback on what alternative means might be available for pursuing materials / metallurgy positions for a mechanical engineer who has no direct work experience in this field. 


    thanks,


    ------------------------------
    sreekar parimi

    9795713723
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  • 2.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-18-2021 08:10
    Hi Sreekar,

    I made this switch (mechanical engineer to metallurgist without a materials degree), although it was less than 2 years out of school so that may change things. A few thoughts:
    • You may have to switch to an entry level position, or at least lower level than you currently are
    • A lot of it may be on selling yourself, find a way to stress any metallurgy/materials activities you do have on your resume. Incorporate keywords like 'materials', 'metallurgy', 'corrosion', etc. into it. Remember that you don't need to meet 100% of a positions criteria to apply and put yourself out there.
      • When I was looking to switch, I went ahead and put "metallurgist" in my profile on a job site. A bit of a stretch, but there's no requirements to call yourself that and if you are not lying on your resume... Just be prepared to explain why you think it's warranted to a hiring manager.
    • The two fields have overlap, ask if there are any tasks or projects in your current role that are more materials related. Alternatively, if you see something in a project you are working, bring it up (ie. "This gizmo is going to be sitting in water for a long time - there may be some corrosion concerns and would like to spend some time looking into it", "I was reading about this new material and I think we could use it for the current gadget. There's the potential to reduce both weight and cost")
    • Take a class online. Become an active member in your local ASM chapter. Volunteer to judge for the local college's Materials Advantage senior project fair. Even small things will help if they show you have an active interest and are investing time and energy outside of work.
    I would also caution you to not be too quick to make too drastic a jump. You have a lot of interest, but having an interest and actually enjoying doing the job full time can be two different things. If you know someone in the field, buy them a coffee (or the remote equivalent) and ask about their day-to-day. Or find someone in a similar job that you may want though the ASM directory or on LinkedIn and send them a message. However, if you do take a job and find you don't like it, you can always look for another one. So if you see something that looks like a great fit there may be no real harm in just jumping in headfirst.

    Good luck!

    -Lindsay

    ------------------------------
    Lindsay Malloy
    Staff Materials Development Engineer
    DePuy Synthes
    West Chester PA
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-18-2021 17:27
    Hi Lindsay,

    Those are excellent suggestions and knowing someone has done it is always encouraging. I may have to put it out there (somehow) that I am okay for entry level or lower position than current. So far didn't get through the maze. 

    My interest in materials and corrosion sustained for over 4 years. I had more opportunities with corrosion analysis than materials but its getting to a stage where the role doesn't allow me to expand any further. For an year and half, I had the mentorship of principal materials engineer teaching me fundamentals. 

    In terms of additional experience, do you know if there are any projects that someone like me could volunteer (i mean outside company, internally ill scout..but wondering if there are places outside offering such opportunities)..

    Lastly, would PE in metallurgical engineering help?


    ------------------------------
    sreekar parimi
    pearland TX
    9795713723
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-19-2021 03:22
    Hi Sreekar, Lindsay's comments are great.

    As far as volunteering, I would instead put more time into gaining expertise.  As others have mentioned, attend the local Chapter meetings and network there, ask about any local courses, and so on.

    Getting a PE in another field is not a trivial thing.  When I got mine in Met, I looked at what my ME roommate had to study for his ME PE and I wouldn't even have thought about taking it.  You can see some information about it at
    https://ncees.org/engineering/pe/metallurgical-materials/   There are several areas of specific expertise as well as general questions.

    Continuing education is something that many firms support, whether because it is required for maintaining a certification, or considered a beneficial step towards advancement in either the management or technical ladder, and especially if you can make a case that it is beneficial to the employer through skills improvement/project benefits.  So you may be able to get some support for further courses funded by your firm if you can make a case for it.  Good luck!

    ------------------------------
    Paul Tibbals
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  • 5.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 30 days ago
    Thank you Paul. 
    I did look into exam specifics. The contents look exciting, some familiar through my study and work, some unfamiliar but already on my list of learning. 
    However I will go through TMS study guide to get a deeper flavor of it. 


    ------------------------------
    sreekar parimi
    pearland TX
    9795713723
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Akron Chapter Admin
    Posted 30 days ago
    Sreekar,
    It can be done, it just takes time and effort.  I graduated with an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1966 and started to work as a Laboratory Technician in the Materials Laboratory at Babcock & Wilcox.  I took a lot of ASM courses, a few college classes and bought books on basic metallurgy: US Steels "Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel"; Bethlehem Steels "Modern Steels", and of course the first few volumes of ASMs Metals Handbooks.

    In 1978 I passed the state PE license exam as a Metallurgical Engineer.  I was promoted to supervisor of the Metallographic Section of the Laboratory in 1979.  In 1986 heat treat furnace operations were added to my responsibilities and in 1991 I was promoted to supervisor of the Materials Laboratory.  I retired from B&W in 2015 and I enjoyed most of the time I spent in metallurgy.

    As with most careers you never stop studying and learning.

    Good Luck.

    ------------------------------
    [Gene] [Homer] [P.E.]
    [Metallurgical Engineer]
    [Babcock & Wilcox - Retired]
    [Barberton] [OH]
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 30 days ago
    Thats very inspiring story. Thank you Gene for sharing that here. 
    May I ask if you see any decline in importance of material experts in your experience ? Or decline in exploration within industry?

    I ask that because since 2014, I saw attrition in all areas , particularly  experienced engineers. About 3 years ago, my previous mentors (one engineering fellow and another principal engineer, both in materials area) were about to get me engaged in their projects. These relationships and the prospects both evaporated with forced retirements and layoffs. I was surprised such expertise was let go. 

    I can understand the business needs, nevertheless It meant I had to start over with building relationships and finding mentors.

    ------------------------------
    sreekar parimi
    pearland TX
    9795713723
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-18-2021 09:06
    This might be a good segue to mention that the CareerHub is available to all ASM members.

    ------------------------------
    Carrie Hawk
    ASM International
    Community Engagement Specialist

    440-338-5497
    carrieh@asminternational.org
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  • 9.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-18-2021 10:15
    Sreekar,

    I think you have a couple avenues you could pursue:

    • Masters degree. When I was doing my undergrad in materials science, one of the TA's was a mechanical undergrad who decided to pursue a masters degree in materials because he felt like his weakness in that area was holding him back as a mechanical engineer. He wound up liking materials and now he's a materials/corrosion engineer at a refinery. The nice thing about a masters is that it's 2 years (assuming you do it full time) rather than 4 years for undergrad. Lots of people go this route as a means of specializing in a certain discipline after they've established a solid base of experience. Some schools also offer programs in things like welding, corrosion, etc. if you want to get really specialized. Some also offer certificate programs which don't require as much time/money as a full masters.

    • Certifications. Something significantly faster and less expensive than a masters degree would be pursuing a certification through a professional society, for example a PE, AWS CWI/CWEng, ASNT ACCP, NACE CP, etc. These are a bit more limited in what they get you and what type of job you want to pursue but many jobs require them, for example most corrosion engineer positions I've seen require some level of NACE CP. I myself have a CWI which I don't use in my current job but in my last job (where I was working when I started getting it), it got you a lot of respect.

    • Study independently. Call me a nerd but I have spent a considerable amount of my own money building a nice personal engineering library. At least where I live, you can find old metallurgy books at used bookstores for very cheap and the nice thing about this field is that most of the real groundwork was laid 50+ years ago; it's not like that information is obsolete. ASM of course has many quality books for sale as well. If you are really motivated, you can learn a lot by teaching yourself.

    • Find a mentor at work. If you have metallurgists or materials engineers at work (I'm assuming you have at least one), get to know them and see if you can collaborate on a project or something. I have learned a great deal just by talking to my older coworkers and asking them to explain things to me. In my case it worked out well because my boss at my last job was an experienced forge shop metallurgist who was fairly pedantic (in a good way though) and he took the time to really teach me a lot about forging. Sure enough, I wound up finding a job as a forge shop metallurgist myself. See also if your job would offer you the opportunity to do something like audit special process vendors in your supply chain, or accompany the auditors as a training exercise. You can learn a lot by taking a day watching how a coating shop, fabrication shop, etc. operates.

    • Make your own luck. What I mean by this is that you shouldn't feel discouraged from pursuing a materials job just because you don't have a materials degree. Sometimes, people assign too much weight to titles like this. If you have 8 years of experience, you are surely capable of learning and adapting. Many positions (unless it's R&D or something requiring a high degree of specialization, like a PhD) just require an engineering degree of any sort. Take the time to study a subject well enough that you can "talk the talk" and then, when applying for the job, just be candid and say "I'm a mechanical engineer but I'm trying to get into materials, I think I'm qualified because I've worked on such and such projects, etc.". One strength that you have going for you is actually your mechanical background - not all materials engineers have that and it's a valuable perspective that you could offer to a materials engineering team; it's easy for materials engineers to miss the forest for the trees if they know a great deal about the material in isolation but little about its application. You could be that "bridge" between the two.


    ------------------------------
    Sean Piper
    Product / Process Metallurgist
    Ellwood Texas Forge Houston
    Houston TX
    773-524-8985
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-18-2021 17:49
    Edited by sreekar parimi 03-18-2021 17:50
    Sean,

    Greatly appreciate the elaborate response. This is very helpful. 

    I can proudly say I am only materials guy in my division and all of that has been self motivated learning through books, talking to experts. I always jumped at any opportunity to solve a corrosion, materials or coating problem. I took NACE corrosion course and passed their MR0175 exam. Its more corrosion oriented. For materials, One Principal materials engineer in my company taught me a weekly class for more than an year (he likes teaching, i like learning, and it worked out).

    So i am doing two of the things you mention there and seems like am on right track. However, I don't get a chance to work on it enough to build a stronger profile. On top of it, I feel I have to get more hands-on to take it to next level. 

    Master's is a tricky option due to family obligations, but I have to keep that as an option to execute if nothing else happens.
    Preferably, any form of apprenticeship in practical setting would be great. 

    Your suggestions on certifications is something I will look into. I was wondering if PE license exam for metallurgical engineering will get me some traction? 

    Thanks,
    Sreekar Parimi

    ------------------------------
    sreekar parimi
    pearland TX
    9795713723
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-18-2021 17:28
    Thank you Carrie. I will check that out.

    ------------------------------
    sreekar parimi
    pearland TX
    9795713723
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Long Island Chptr Admin
    Posted 03-18-2021 11:14
    Sreekar and co -

    Read as many ASM Handbooks and other relevant books.
    Many of us have different undergraduate degrees other
    than materials engineering or materials science.

    Smart employers will want to know what you know
    and have done, not necessarily your education degree.

    regards,
    - Jim






  • 13.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 03-18-2021 17:32
    Hi James,

    I do have a small number of books including ASM. Those occupy my time outside work. Actually a couple of those look dense enough for a lifetime.
    Gaining application experience is proving to be difficult. But having this conversation is producing some ideas that i can implement. 

    Thank you.

    ------------------------------
    sreekar parimi
    pearland TX
    9795713723
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Mechanical engineer to Metallurgical engineer

    Posted 30 days ago
    Hello, Sreekar, I had a situation somewhat similar to your situation when I started my career in industry. I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering/Metallurgical option. Employers tended to assume that I was neither one nor the other. I started with a job in a materials application group. My manager offered me the job, under the condition that I would begin work on an MS in metallurgy. (the company paid tuition, and almost all classes were scheduled to be in the evening). For me, this turned out to be the best of both worlds. I used my mixed background to help the design and manufacturing engineers to understand what was going on, and why/how did it fail. At the same time, I used my mixed background to help the other metallurgists to understand the mechanical aspects of what was going on, and why/how did it fail. This all made for many a fascinating work experience, and a rewarding career..

    ------------------------------
    Neil Kilpatrick
    Owner
    GenMet LLC
    Winter Springs FL
    (407) 760-7293
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