To find out what a Stress Engineer does, check out Lorenzo Lacovig's career profile!
How I got here
I was completing the research part of my Masters degree at Wits University. There happened to be a huge delay in the testing process, so I decided to make the most of the time that would be lost doing nothing and find a job.
It was all about good timing and a bit of luck. A good friend of mine (who studied with me at Wits), Rolf Schlub, was working at Denel Saab Aerostructures as a junior design engineer and, coincidentally, Denel Aerostructures were looking to hire a group of recent aero and mechanical engineering graduates to enter the EIT (Engineer in Training) programme.
Some of the subjects I needed to pursue my career
At high school the major subjects I needed to pursue my career were English, Maths and Science. I tried my hardest to obtain an A or A+ in Maths and Science especially. At university, you need all the subjects that are given in the courses that are prescribed for you. As a future stress engineer the most important of the university subjects would have to be Statics, Mechanics of Solids and Aircraft Structures 1 and 2.
The thing that drives me crazy...
Doing an entire analysis, thinking it's brand new and never been done, when later you find out that it's already been done. All that time was wasted...
The best part of my job is...
Learning something new and applying that knowledge. Understanding how things work and the way an organisation runs, and should be run.
Things that are still baffling my mind...
Why South Africa has not invested more money in solar energy. I'm a big solar energy fan and I think it is a huge untapped resource that is free, especially in sunny South Africa.
Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you applied your knowledge and skills to overcome it...
I was assigned to develop and refine a FEM (Finite Element Model) that calculated stresses on a specific structure. It was very complicated and with the way my mind was taught (at university) to methodically and systematically work through a problem, with the training and help I received at work, I was able to get the model working correctly. I also asked a lot of questions and received lots of help from co-workers with more experience.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring stress engineers?
If you don't know something, ask questions, don't assume you know all the answers. Don't be scared to ask questions because you fear you will look like a fool. Chances are you will end up looking like a bigger fool when what you did is wrong and someone discovers the mistake.
If you believe you are right and things should be different, then challenge people on that belief; don't just sit back and accept everything for the way it is.
Your all-time top 3 favourite gadgets:
I'm not much of a gadgets person, but if I had to choose three they would be:
3. Solar Cells - not really a gadget but I think will still influence the world more than anything else.