What Engineering Graduates Should Know: Whirlpool's Technology Director

Written By: Cat McClintock
  • 8/26/2016

[A couple years ago, the PTC Academic Program asked some of our most esteemed customers to reflect on the “skills gap” in engineering. We wanted to know what was missing when fresh graduates showed up on the company’s doorstep. What more could universities be doing to prepare the next generation of product developers? Many of the answers we received are still as relevant today as they were back then. With school starting up again, it's a good time to revisit these now-classic posts as you choose your courses and extracurricular projects for the year. ]

In a 2013 webinar, the Director of Technology at Whirlpool came up with three skills he’d like to see incoming engineers possess. He also talked about a fourth skill they already have that they may not be applying. Are you gathering the right skills for the job market? Check out this summary of the skills he would like to see recent graduates bring to the job:

Computer Aided Engineering (CAE/simulation)

For many students, analysis tools are for the specialists. But good engineers need to understand what an analysis is telling them about their model. “CAE should be a basic skill,” our source at Whirlpool says. “In fact, finite element analysis ought to be offered as a mainstream class to all mechanical engineering students.”

An engineer uses simulation to digitally apply force to a part, finds too much stress, adds material, and runs the analysis again. All in 4 minutes and 14 seconds. 

Model-based Systems Engineering 

Good engineers understand physics, of course. But great engineers also understand the trade offs between cost and quality as they design products that get released into real world. Product developers should understand work processes, optimization methods, and risk management as well as how to make a model that meets basic specs.

More Industry Standard Tools

Too often, students learn about tools by helping professors develop them in house. By staying away from standard tools, students’ skills aren’t pigeonholed, some argue. “But the student who walks in here knowing Creo and Ansys has a leg up on all the others in a job interview,” our Whirlpool source says.

Connection and Collaboration

Fresh engineers today already know all about this skill, and now, more than ever, they need to speak up in the workplace. Our source recalls a high school robotics class he worked with recently in which he and other mentors prepared to create a web page to help students communicate and collaborate—until one of the teenagers suggested a Facebook group. Within minutes the class was connected. “Don’t your managers and long-time engineers have rejected these ideas,” he says. “Sometimes, we just don’t know about them. So, speak up!” 

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About the Author

Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.