Engineering Experience: Example 1

This is the first in what will be a series of posts, breaking down my own engineering experience record. In total, my record included my graduate studies (Master’s degree) and 4 different jobs. In this post, we’ll review my entry for my graduate degree. The entry is anonymized, but should still contain plenty of information to give an idea of how one might fill out their own experience record.

Graduate Degree Experience

The first section is self-explanatory. Describe when, where, who, and what.

Start Date(a while ago)
End Date(a while ago + 2 years)
School(A Canadian University)
DepartmentBiomedical Engineering
DegreeMaster of Engineering Science
Supervisor & P. Eng ReferenceDr. (My Supervisor)
(Mailing address)
License: 123456789 (PEO)
ResponsibilitiesI conducted scientific research on the use of (imaging technology) for (medical application). The research consisted of two projects: (1) (measurement 1) and (2) (measurement 2), and relied heavily upon implementing signal and image processing techniques through software (SW) development. I also worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate (Programming for Engineers) and graduate-level (Introduction to Medical Imaging) engineering courses.

2.2.1 Application of Theory

This section is fairly straight-forward. Typically whenever you design or develop something, you’ll work through the steps listed here. Remember to clearly state what you (and not team members or colleagues) did.

AnalysisI performed a technology assessment (scientific literature review) of existing methods to measure (measurement 1) (acoustic microscopy, histological analysis) and (measurement 2) (magnetic resonance imaging, small angle light scattering, polarized light) for (human anatomy) in order to gain a better understanding of how these measurements had previously been obtained.
Design and SynthesisI designed and developed software in Matlab and LabView to (1) compute (measurement 1), (2) interface with a digital oscilloscope and mechanical ultrasound probe mover to collect radio-frequency (RF) data, (3) calculate and plot RF spectra, fitting the results to a model for tissue anisotropy.
Testing MethodsI planned and executed a test to measure the speed of sound in a controlled saline-based solution in order quantify the error introduced by this measurement. I also used tissue of known anisotropy (e.g. muscle and liver) as a sanity test of the anisotropy measurement apparatus and software.
Implementation MethodsUsing the software I developed and experimental tissue-holder apparatus that I co-designed, I imaged 13 (description of specimens) and used the software I developed to measure and map their (tissue characteristic 1). Using software that I developed, I measured the RF back-scatter from 8 (description of specimens) to characterize their tissue characteristic 2.

 2.2.2 Practical Experience

This is where the vagueness starts, in my opinion, and for that reason where breaking out the response into separate table entries really helps. It ensures that you hit all of the points that the PEO is looking for.

Function of components as part of the larger systemTo design SW interfacing with an ultrasound system through a digital oscilloscope, I achieved an in-depth understanding of how the ultrasound signal, originating from the transducer and echoing off the specimen, was travelling through the ultrasound system (analog and digital components) and digital oscilloscope to arrive at a point where the SW could read it.
Limitations of practical engineering and related human systems in achieving desired goalsImaging the (specimen description) for (measurement 1) required the tissue to lay flat and remain stationary while in solution. I iteratively co-designed a jig designed to secure the tissue for imaging, while applying minimal compression and obscuring as little of the tissue surface as possible. This necessary jig, however, partially limited the surface area of the tissue that could be imaged.
The significance of time in the engineering processAfter being excised from the (organ description), the ex-vivo (specimen description) deteriorates in a matter of hours in a process that is accelerated by excessive handling. I developed and adhered to an efficient imaging protocol to ensure the integrity of the collected data.
Knowledge and understanding of codes, standards, regulations and laws that govern applicable engineering activitiesAll my laboratory work was completed in a WHMIS-compliant environment. I completed the appropriate WHMIS training being completed beforehand.

2.2.3 Management of Engineering

You’ll notice there are a few N/A’s in this section and that’s fine. No one is going to get a lot of management experience fresh out of undergrad and especially during a Master’s degree. I put N/A’s in the categories that I did not accumulate experience, knowing that I covered these areas in subsequent jobs.

PlanningIn order to fund the engineering research, grant and scholarship applications were written. I, along with my thesis supervisor, developed a high-level plan for the research to be completed. We documented our hypothesis, proposed methods, and justification for the project prior to the work commencing.
SchedulingI performed all scheduling of the data collection, analysis, and reporting segments of the project. This scheduling accounted for the use of resources with limited availability (ultrasound and CT imaging systems), high priority resources with unpredictable and expiring availability ((description of specimens)), and predetermined milestones with required deliverables (conference presentations, journal submissions, thesis completion).
BudgetingN/A
SupervisionDuring this research, I also worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate engineering courses (Programming for Engineers and Introduction to Medical Imaging). I tutored both graduate and undergraduate engineering students on these subjects. Additionally, I co-supervised a group of summer students as they completed small-scale research projects in our lab.
Project ControlN/A
Risk AssessmentN/A

2.2.4 Communication Skills

If there’s one thing you get exposed to quite a bit during graduate studies, it’s communication. Heck, I took a graduate level course on scientific communication. Whether it’s the endless writing (scholarship applications, abstracts, papers, and your thesis) or the presenting (as a scientist or a TA), grad school is not as insular as some may think. In how many other positions, for example, will you be in the position to present something to the “general public” (whether it’s useful or not is another story..)?

Preparing written workI wrote up experimental and research findings in conference abstracts, a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Journal Name, and my Master's thesis.
Oral Reports or PresentationsI presented technological problems & solutions during weekly laboratory meetings and presented research updates to thesis advisers.
Presentations to General PublicI gave a 1-hour lecture of my thesis work to an audience composed of academics and interested members of the general public.

 2.2.5 Social Implications of Engineering

This was typically the most difficult section for me to populate and I suspect it will be the same for many others. Luckily with my later experience in medical devices, impact on the public and the significant of regulation are not difficult to cover.

The value of benefits of engineering work to the publicThe research I performed worked towards establishing new measurement methods for a novel biomedical technology. (This novel biomedical technology is) considered the u201choly grailu201d of (solutions to a biomedical problem, offering numerous advantages over current (current solutions) for the patients who need them. A proven method for monitoring the development of this novel biomedical technology is critical to this concept becoming a reality.
The safeguards in place to protect the employees and the public and mitigate adverse impactsAll WHMIS and other laboratory safety guidelines were followed during procedures to ensure employee safety. All published findings were peer-reviewed to ensure the correctness and integrity of the scientific and engineering methods used.
The relationship between engineering activity and the public at largeN/A
The significant role of regulatory agencies on the practice of engineeringN/A

And that’s it, folks! I’ll have 4 more of these entries, one for each of my past jobs. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, send me a tweet, or even an e-mail.

Engineering Experience Record Template

So it’s time to write your engineering experience record. For me, this was the most time-consuming task of the whole process. Part of the reason for that was procrastination, but a more legitimate factor was that I had to recall and summarize the experience from one Master’s degree and 4 positions at different companies that spanned 8 years.

I must have done *something* at that job 6 years ago…

Yes, as we have already covered on this blog, you only need 4 years of overall experience to qualify. However, to be safe, I decided to summarize most of my professional history, especially since it was unclear how much of that experiences (e.g. my Master’s degree in a different discipline from my bachelor’s, and some positions where I was not supervised by a P. Eng.) would count towards my final tally.

It ended up over 5000 words and 20 pages long (partiallydue to the tabular format and some formatting-related page breaks). I don’t say this to brag nor to provide an example. Ideally I believe that the experience record should be a much more concise document. Consider mine to be a special case.

When I finally sat down to start writing this document, the first thing I did was search to see whether there were any fine examples out there on the world wide web. I was hoping to find some past (successful) applications that demonstrated how to structure and write about my experience.

The PEO does provide a form for the experience record.  One would assume that this template is all that you need. However, once I started actually writing my version, I found this template to be inadequate. Specifically speaking, it seems that too many different criteria were lumped into each of the form’s entry boxes. For example, for Practical Engineering, the statement below outlined the expectations of what your response should contain:

Describe your practical engineering experience in relation to the function of components as part of a larger system, limitations of practical engineering, significance of time in the engineering process, knowledge and understanding of codes, standards, regulations and laws

I wanted to structure the document in a way such that I knew I had covered all of those bases. Further searches revealed only ONE (UNO!) example of a PEO experience record. Lucky for me, it was written by Mr. Darryl Stahlke, hosted on his personal site, and the format he used addressed my concerns exactly. Darryl separated each sub-section into it’s own entry in the form. This made the process of entering all the information slightly less mind-numbing. Kudos to you, good sir!

Important Update (August 2017)
The experience record shared by Mr. Stahlke was a useful inspiration for how to structure my experience record. However, Gavin Simone (of PracticePPEExams.ca, who unlike myself, I consider a true expert on the P. Eng. licensing process) kindly pointed out to me that Darryl’s experience record is rather dated (circa 2002) and its content, in very brief, bulleted format, would be unlikely to meet to PEO’s present-day standards. Gavin has helped hundreds of engineers obtain their license all across Canada, so I trust his judgment on this. 

I took the liberty of creating a very simple template based on Mr. Stahlke’s approach. and you can download it here: PEO Work Experience Template.

Once the structure of the document was decided, it was time to write. This was the most difficult part. I tried to learn from Darryl’s example, but his work experience was just far too different from mine. The vague instructions provided by the PEO didn’t help much either. Next blog post I’ll walk you through my submitted experience record, with real-world examples and text.

Licensing Questions: ERC Interview for International Engineer

Hi everyone! We’re back with a second instalment of licensing questions answered by Gavin Simone, the man behind PracticePPEExams.ca.

Gavin is an expert in the licensing process for all Canadian licensing bodies, having helped thousands of aspiring engineers successfully obtain their P Eng. designation. The reviews of his help from satisfied customers speak for themselves.

Gavin has kindly agreed to periodically answer some of your questions himself. While these answers come from a true expert, the licensing process is constantly evolving; therefore the site-wide disclaimer applies here as well.

So enjoy Gavin’s insights and please keep the questions coming in the comments section and we just might feature them!

ERC Interview?

Reader: I am an internationally trained civil engineer. I submitted my application for P. Eng.. After they have reviewed my academic background the Academic Requirements Committee (ARC) assigned me to a confirmatory program in CE. I will then be given an option to attend an interview with the Experience Requirement Committee (ERC) so that they can assess if my engineering experience can be taken into consideration towards waiving the examination program. Does anyone has any suggestions or examples of their preparation for the ERC interview?

Gavin: There are a few things to consider for when developing work samples for your PEO ERC Interview.

Your two work samples should be the best representation of your ability to apply engineering principles and knowledge. You can bring things like drawings, reports, calculations, etc. The samples must be your own work. Try to showcase your most technical work and something that would be the closest to professional level work. You should know the samples in and out and be expected to answer questions about them–not only about your specific project but about variations. For example, what would you do if you had to do your design with a different material? Or in a different climate? Or using a different construction/fabrication method?

To download a free interview cheat sheet and book a mock interview with an engineering in your field (civil, mechanical and electrical only), please visit PracticePPEExams

(more Q &A to come!)