Fundamental Engineering Principles - What are the expectations form developers and engineers?
Elevate your engineering career via aligning with these fundamental engineering principles. This article will provide you with guidance on common expectations from an engineer. Exercise the given tips in your day-to-day work life, and the confidence will be steaming from your ears! Points mentioned in the article apply to all disciplines of engineering at all ranks; junior developer, senior electronics engineer, VP of engineering, all the same.
You can find the video narration of this article on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKlfcNzTqrg
Video has additional tips for each principle discussed. If you want to read the comments or leave a comment, do so under the YouTube video. If you want to contribute to the article, make a pull request on GitHub.
- Importance of written communication: “Jeff Bezos Turned Narrative into Amazon’s Competitive Advantage”, Hacker News discussion thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19115686
What are the expectations form developers and engineers? Below are the fundamental engineering principles, explained one-by-one in bullet points.
1 - Communication
- Everyone in the field will universally agree on communication to be the essence of engineering. Everyone will all say the same thing as if they did a secret pact.
- Engineering is a team game and good communication is the most basic requirement. This is a broad topic so let us divide and conquer it. Oral and written communication.
- Oral communication
- Speak slowly, especially if you are using tech terms heavily.
- If you need to go talk to someone about a technical matter, go prepared; take notes on what to talk, list the conversation topics.
- If you need to show them something, prepare it beforehand. Do not waste peoples’ time. They will like you better.
- Written communication
- When it comes to writing, practice makes perfect. Make a habit of writing.
- Write good emails, and be clear and concise in team chat apps.
- Write good commit messages.
- Write documentation files (readmes, design docs, etc.) wherever possible.
- Practice writing brief memos for meetings.
- If you choose to present your ideas using slides, hand out a written memo version of it to the audience. As you get senior, so you start to favor written form over PowerPoint. You will eventually join the gang anyway!
- And finally, be responsive
- Be responsive in team chat apps and mails. They will be your primary means of communication in many work environments. The more responsive you are, the more connected you become and people will like working with you, rather than waiting for you to respond to a chat ping for an hour.
- However, you need to handle distractions. If you need to concentrate, use snooze or no-distraction mode features of your communication tools.
2 - Collaboration
- This is where communication and preparation will help you a lot.
- Hold meetings
- Morning standups or briefs.
- Lunch discussions.
- Round table decision making.
- Do favors so you can expect them
- Be convincing
- You work with more than just your fellow engineers. You will have to convince your managers, designers, and all non-tech fellows. Good communication will be triumph here.
- To your customers. Customer is king said Dr. Samuelson Nobel Prize winner in economics. You might be getting customer feedback through a filter like a product manager, that is still one of the most valuable feedback you can ever get.
- To your managers.
- To your colleagues.
- Do not shy away from disagreement. No one (including you) knows the best at all times.
3 - Analytical thinking
- Your lifelong education has the primary objective of making you think analytically.
- Always think before you act. Before every task think about
- Why are you doing this?
- Can you not do this? Most of the time, you will find out that you do not need to do what you have in mind, because you might be able to reuse existing work instead of reinventing.
- If you must do it, can you KISS? Use your creativity to KISS.
- Never let emotions get in the way of decision making. Keep your relations with people around you professional at least during work hours to help with that.
- Work the problem. Do not make things worse by guessing. (Wise words from Apollo 13 flight director Gene Kranz).
- Consult your colleges and hold a brief discussion with your colleges if your analytical brain fails you. They are there for a reason!
4 - Organization
- Manage your time. Use a time tracking software to track your hours with other people for collaboration and meetings.
- Manage your project schedule. Use a project task tracker like Trello to prioritize tasks from most important to least, based on time available.
- Manage equipment. This is your desk if you are an office dweller.
5 - Engineering excellence
- Less is more. Concentrate on delivering the best possible result rather than delivering a ton.
- Revise your work. Good books are not written, they are rewritten. - Michael Crichton.
6 - Money
- Do not shy from spending money on what makes you productive. Computers, tablets, drawing equipment, cameras… Money spent on your work equipment is money well spent.
7 - Commitment
- When decisions are made, commit to them. Deliver results (or failure).
- Indecisiveness is worse than anything so keep walking until success or failure. Both will provide invaluable data for future decision making.
8 - Leadership
- You always hear this, but leadership does not mean giving people orders. It means being able to make independent decisions and act on them. You have colleges but you will not do pair work all day long.
- Take responsibility for tasks. Do not expect someone to show up and handle it for you.
- Make decisions and execute on them.
- If you get a chance to be in recruitment meetings, take it!
9 - Confidence
- Trust in yourself. Trust in your work. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes and break things. But you build great things in the process also. If nothing, you will learn a lot.
- Your job as a quantic engineer is always to remain calm and collected. If you radiate confidence, people follow you. They feel more secure around you.
10 - Finally, always remember the engineering motto. “The stage is beneath our talent, but we shall elevate it”. Fine words from the wise man Jhin. We make the world a better place.
You will experience most of these during your career. These will also come up repeatedly in job interviews for anything from engineering to management. Do not try to memorize them, use them. It is the best way to learn.