View Full Version : Freelance engineering
10-10-09, 08:20 PM
In these economically difficult times there are many an engineer fresh out of college who are lacking in skilled employment opportunities. I had a thought recently about the possibility of engineering being done as a freelance, work-from-home kind of affair, and chatted with some college buddies of mine about it. I've found a few sites online that specialize in coordinating these kinds of efforts, but work is kinda minimal in these economic circumstances, sadly... :-(
Basically, the idea is that say a small company wants to do some high-level analysis (thermal simulation or something) of a part. They don't normally do this kind of work, and hence don't have the resources or the know-how to do this one-time complex analysis. They would hire a freelance engineer that specializes in this kind of analysis to do the job and pay him/her on a per-job basis or something similar.
I'm just curious if anyone here has done this sorta work before. I'm tempted to test the waters of this sorta work alongside my day job, you know, just to see what I can kick up. I'd like to have some idea of how common this sort of work is, because to me, if I were the small company needing a job done, I know there are consulting firms that can do this sorta work too, and with a higher cost, could be more reputable, and so that's where I'd put my money.
10-11-09, 03:28 AM
The problem you'd have is being "fresh out of college".
No established background, no "rep".
Who'd hire you and why?
Otherwise it's feasible.
10-11-09, 07:05 PM
In most of the cases freelance engineering would require "Professional Engineer" license in the USA. It's not easy to get one. There are a few challenging tests to pass + minimum 5 years of experience in the field is a must as a rule. However, in software engineering things are little bit different.
10-12-09, 11:05 PM
Yeah, I figured as much. I still have to wonder if it's possible to, say, talk to a small company or an inventor who might not have even considered using a high-level analysis for their problem, show them that you can improve one of their products via your work, and get some biz that way.
But yeah, I've scored my F.E. license, a stepping stone to the P.E., so I guess I may eventually get to being able to throw my name around a bit.
Just seems like a theoretically sexy idea, doing analysis from home on a project-by-project basis for a living. Probably not possible, but I'm gonna keep looking into this for a bit...
10-18-09, 08:22 PM
Sure I can tell you anything you want to know about it. I would be one of the people who might think about hiring you.
You would not be in the running because you have no experience and no referrals. The only way you could hope to strike out on your own as an analyst would be:
- You are brilliant, the top .1% of the engineering world
- You have years of experience in my industry or in consulting
Then you could consider this as an option. But right out of college, doing simulation of structures when you have zero experience in how these design actually work in the real world? Who would risk their valuable designs in your hands?
Now if you are talking about doing the grunt work of building geometry in CAD - that's a lot more feasible. Maybe.
Working from home is a great idea that can save a lot of fuel towards a green economy. But our users are behind the curve. Small companies are progressive and hence can happen. I suggest go to your local SBDC office (usually in a college campus) and get the list of SDB and small companies in your area. Then start marketing your capabilities. All it takes is one project.
move out of Michigan, it is an abyss for engineers.
10-22-09, 11:39 PM
haha, I know what you mean, draqon
Thanks for the blunt honesty, Watcher, I think you've hit the nail on the head. still though, I'm in the process of setting myself up with open-source solvers and meshers and whatnot so if I find a project like this online that I can do, I'll bid, worse that happens is the likely result: I don't get it. Best though, I make a little extra scratch :)
I kinda agree kmguru, but the simple fact is that face-to-face communication is still very much valued. Most people, I believe, would tend to not see themselves as team players if they were working at home. For many people who see the job as just a job, they could care less, but your manager wants his employees to be cohesive. That's efficient, and probably healthier for everyone and whatever project is being done.
Also, from a purely technical standpoint, office intranet security would be a lot more porous if a whole bunch of people were working from home. Sure, you could have a mandatory VPN connection for employees but that won't stop a bug on my personal computer from pipping itself into the office network. If you've got everyone coming to work to use computers an IT guy specifically set up for office use with all the appropriate software and locks and such, computer issues are theoretically (a big theoretical) minimized.
I'm sure we all want to work away from an office, live where we want and do what we do, but for many lines of engineering work this just isn't very feasible for a company. Nevertheless, I'm going to keep entertaining the idea, just because hell, why not?
so does this make investing time and concentration into an extracurricular "real world" project while pursuing the BS worth the bits (or chunks:D) of GPA you might lose?
well, what do real engineers say about this? it means really lot to me..
10-26-09, 06:13 AM
well, what do real engineers say about this? it means really lot to me..
Post #2 is from a real engineer.
Well I was real last time I checked...
10-26-09, 06:24 AM
Why not START a consulting firm does exactly this?
It sounds like a great idea, and the market is apparently sorely lacking in it.
From my experience, being an independent consultant sucks. I was continously looking for work and did not know if I would have work for the following months. It's ideal if your rich and don't need the money or semi retired but for someone with a mortgage and a family to support, it's not the way to go.
10-31-09, 08:31 AM
Basically, the idea is that say a small company wants to do some high-level analysis (thermal simulation or something) of a part.
I'm just curious if anyone here has done this sorta work before.
1) What experience do you have, with what analysis codes? ANSYS? Abaqus? LS-Dyna? Nastran? How will you get access to the analysis software? Do you have a system capable of running the jobs?
2) I worked for years as a consultant, in a consulting firm doing exactly what you are proposing. It's a damned difficult business, either feast or famine. And, it is extremely competitive. Do you have more experience, or knowledge of your client's products than your competitors?
3) Why not consider CAD work, not CAE? With little experience you'd be a lot more likely to get work building solid models than "thermal simulation" work. Just a thought.
09-04-11, 12:52 PM
Take a job with the best engineer you can find in your field. Work like a dog and learn everything you can. Continue to study all your life and keep continuing education up.
Get your P.E.
Hardale (a real engineer)