What is a talented and professional reliability engineer?
The post on ethics and MTBF and the comments has me thinking about what it means to be a talented and professional reliability engineer.
The Mac operating system dictionary says talented is:
having a natural aptitude or skill for something
We learn reliability engineering and those that understand the range of tools and techniques useful for a given situation would be considered talented. Everything is not solved by running a HALT or only conducting detailed failure analysis. Knowing when and why to apply a particular tool, and using the tool effectively (i.e. when to use a Weibull distribution to model lifetime data and how to use the information to make decisions.)
There are many ways to achieve the knowledge required. University programs or via the many papers, books, seminars and conferences. The talent shows with the astute selection of tools that meet assist in solving problems, identifying risks, or estimating life.
A key element of reliability engineering is reliability statistics. Some have a knack for it and others struggle. Mastering the statistics is crucial for those considered talented in reliability engineering.
Over a career reliability engineers have the opportunity to work on many projects. The materials, designs, assembly processes all continue to evolve and change. The basic tools for reliability engineering haven’t changed as fast as most engineering disciplines, yet the breadth of knowledge and skill required does call mastery and talent.
The dictionary defines professional as
a person engaged or qualified in a profession
Our profession is reliability engineering. Our career is in the pursuit of what will fail and when will it fail. We work to meet or improve product reliability. Within the profession, there are specialist focused on product testing, risk or life modeling, or focused on specific industries or types of products. We can work on bio-compatible polymers in a medical device to redundant modeling of aircraft flight control systems.
I also believe professional means acts in a professional manner. Professional engineering societies often have a code of conduct or ethics standards to guide the professionals in their field. It also means not working beyond your area of knowledge or expertise nor working in a deceitful or self serving manner.
Being professional also means behaving with decorum. Listening to others, understanding the situation beyond the immediate reliability engineering task, and working well with others. Professionals represent the reliability engineering discipline and apply their talent to solve problems.
Talented implies a mastery of a body of knowledge. Professional suggests that we bring to the team our knowledge and skills in a forthright manner.