This happened in a cab I hired to go to the airport for my trip to India. Within first few minutes of interaction with the cab driver I understood that he is a mechanical engineer having 9 years of experience in Ford. (Every person in US has some experience in Ford!!). He asked me about myself and realized I am from his area of interest.. powertrains!
Now my amazing cab journey started with he saying whether he can ask me some questions to judge my knowledge! Yes those were his words! J I was surprised.. replied assertively. What is a HEGO (oxygen) sensor.. his first question. Well, now by questions I felt he would ask some generic questions and not directly the technical details of the operation of an oxygen sensor. My ME 569 days flashed in front of me and I started “storytelling”. Now he interrupted me asking me to answer in exact words.. short and to the point. Aw! Before I completed my explanation, he himself started describing how exactly the switching takes place in the sensor and its other technical details.
How does a crankshaft sensor work, what does it measure? What is engine coolant temperature sensor? How does it control the engine idling operation? Then a couple of solid works and proE questions were followed…… and today this Ann Arbor to Airport journey looked endless! Then he spoke about himself, how he used to interview students like me and what are the current trends in the industry. He spoke about the importance of experience and gave me couple of words of wisdom as he realized that I will be soon making a transition from academic life to industry. He made me appreciate that the real learning starts when one gets into the industry, when one has to learn by himself to keep up with the pace, when there is no set syllabi or pre determined annual examinations to judge you, still there is a need to perform for continuous assessment from peers and bosses and a need to absorb knowledge at twice or thrice the rate of academia to keep up with the competition.
The airport arrived. He did not ask for a tip, neither took any. He urged to remain in touch and waved me saying .. “My friend.. once you step in the industry world, in whichever department you go, make sure to show your extremely accurate engineering knowledge. Your success will depend on how good an (technical) engineer you are!”