Young Engineer Profile
Name: Jonn Nebbe, of Clarion, Iowa.
Designation: Professional Engineer.
Employer: Eaton Corporation, Belmond, Iowa.
Education: B.S. Metallurgical Engineering, Iowa State University; M.S. Metallurgical Engineering, University of Idaho (December 2003).
Major Job Responsibilities or Projects: development, motivation, and evaluation of metallurgical engineering and technician staff; design and implementation of plans for product inspection and cost reduction; quality assurance in the metallurgical operations of heat treating, shearing, forging; friction welding; and plasma welding; and quality assurance for suppliers of aircraft lifter components and equipment calibration services.
NSPE Affiliations: PEI Executive Board (2003- 2004); PEI Young Engineer Advisory Council; and Iowa Engineering Society, Anson Marston Chapter.
Q. As this year's chairman of PEI-YEAC, what would you like this group to accomplish?
A. I would like to see a self-sustaining program for contact with college students. Awareness of NSPE and PEI would be a good stepping stone for increasing membership and services to this valuable segment of the Society's membership.
Q. Balancing your career, employment responsibilities, community activities, and a young family presents some interesting challenges. What would you tell a young engineer facing similar challenges?
A. Spending enough time with the family while still fulfilling professional, employment, and community commitments is the biggest challenge. I would advise a young engineer to manage his or her personal goals and prioritize what is most important. While sounding simple, it is a good way to make the significant things in your life more obvious, rather than prioritizing the expectations of others or the outside world.
Q. What can NSPE do to help recruit more young engineers into its membership ranks?
A. Promoting awareness of NSPE and its services to those at a young professional age—early in an engineer's schooling or career—is most important for recruiting young engineers. It seems that a majority of engineers eventually want to be in management of one form or another, and NSPE offers many "soft skills" to help achieve those goals.
Q. As a young professional, what were your reasons for pursuing licensure? What advice can you offer to other engineers considering the same path?
A. My first professional job out of college was in consulting. It was the natural route to seek professional licensure. I achieved my PE license after I went into industry. I would advise engineers in industry to seek professional licensure for two reasons. First, it improves your credentials. People know you're a competent engineer without knowing your previous accomplishments. And second, it shows a commitment to lifetime learning, which is an important characteristic that many companies look for in an employee.
Q. You're finishing up a master's degree program in metallurgical engineering. Why did you consider advancing your education in this field?
A. Through management of my personal goals, offered by my employer, I realized my interests are in the technical field, rather than management. Consequently, I signed up for the master's program to enhance my knowledge in my engineering specialty.
Q. In addition to NSPE, you have a leadership role in state and local chapters of ASM International. How important are these outside organizations?
A. Technical and professional societies offer continuing education well beyond the university setting. These organizations fulfill the need for lifelong learning. Also, the networking potential is extremely important. Networking could open a door later in your life that you weren't planning to open.
Q. As chief metallurgist at Eaton, you have managerial and team-building responsibilities for other engineers and technicians. What are some of your own benchmarks for developing, motivating, and evaluating these individuals?
A. I find that if you give people the right tools and enough room to perform these tasks, they will typically meet or exceed your expectations. Review (and modification, if necessary) of goals and objectives should be done on a regular basis. Also, give people the opportunity to be self-managed in routine areas, such as vacation coverage, monthly checks, etc. Most importantly, a thank-you and letting people know they are appreciated are essential.
Q. You've had consulting experience in managing projects involving failure analysis. What was one of your most interesting or unique projects?
A. My first project was an evaluation of a failed aluminum mast from an around-the-world sailboat race. It turned out to be a simple overload failure in which the material selection and design were not appropriate for the intended application.
Q. At Eaton, you also have numerous responsibilities in quality improvement, inspection, quality assurance, and cost reduction. What's your secret for coordinating all these duties? What changes have you witnessed in the area of quality standards?
A. We have rigorous systems in place to manage these day-to-day quality functions. This allows us time to react, when necessary, to deviations in quality. The coordinating of these duties is done and prioritized in a manner that supports our plant's goals which in turn support our cooperate goals. The biggest change I've witnessed in the automotive quality ranks is the current shift from the QS-9000 standard to the TS-16949 standard. It's a move from an American automotive standard to a worldwide automotive quality standard.