Stress Engineering Interview Questions Part 4: Non Technical

Stress Engineering Interview Questions Part 4: Non Technical

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In Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, we discussed the following technical aspects:

  1. What is a Free Body Diagram
  2. What are SFD and BMD for Beams, and
  3. A tricky twist to the SFD and BMD of a simply supported center loaded beam
  4. What is a statically determinate structure
  5. What is a statically indeterminate structure
  6. What is a ‘shear center’
  7. What is a ‘shear clip’
  8. How to draw the FBD of a loaded shear clip

If you have not yet done so, check out the first three parts and then come back to this part.

Alright, let’s get going with this Stress Engineering Interview Questions Part 4, on some non technical questions…

Stress Engineering Interview Questions Part 4:

Q: Describe a tough situation in the past and how you overcame it?

Experienced Answers: If this question is asked to someone with at least a year two into stress engineering, then the following may be some answers you could give.

Additional Information:

  • Balancing act: You could pick a situation where there was a delicate balancing act you had to do. For example a brute force solution of using a much stronger material for a positive margin, but the designer tells you that material is hard to get or expensive or hard to machine. Then maybe you had to come up some creative geometry yourself and still use the existing material. You used your knowledge of load paths and load path efficiency and suggested options to the designer that she could pick from and nailed it. That is a great story.
  • Not the easy way out: Or, there may have been a situation where an aluminum panel would be the easy way out. However aluminum panels are very long lead items especially if the stock room is out of them. So the designer asks for another option to meet the deadlines. Then you asked what other panel types are available and quickly worked out the solution using a different panel type.
  • Why did that really happen? Another example maybe that during a static test something fails, and you quickly figured out the main reason for the failure was something that had to do with the test set up rather than the strength assessment, or you could see that the bonding was done poorly and all you really need to do is rework and retest.
  • Budget time: Another example may be a small project where the budget is simply not there for a full blown analysis, then you discovered a creative way to substantiate by comparison to a certified unit with similar stiffness, C.G and a heavier overall weight.

There could be many more situations like this where it may have been tougher, pick the toughest in your mind. Make sure you tell it like a story, with passion and excitement. Guess what, you just nailed it and the interviewer now has a totally elevated opinion of you.

Fresh Graduate/Intern Answers: If this question is asked to someone who just graduated with only internship experience or no job experience in stress engineering, then the following may be some answers you could give.

Additional Information:

  • Final year project: You may have solved a tough problem in your final year project, tell that story.
  • No panic although out of your league: May be you had to intern somewhere, and you were given something totally out of your league, instead of panicking you did as much research as you could, asked around to get help and even if you were not able to solve it, you showed the management that you tried your best and can finish it with help.
  • Being helpful in a tough situation: Maybe you offered to help a senior engineer who was in a tight spot with time, and you offered to offload some of his tedious work so he could look better, hey that’s not a bad example either.
  • Going the extra intern mile: You remember an experienced engineer praising you for going the extra mile and doing more than you were asked to do, tell that story.
  • Seeking out guidance: Maybe there was something you were struggling with, a subject, a seminar, whatever it may have been during college. You went the extra mile and asked every professor you knew and finally got to the bottom of the subject. Tell that story as well.

These are all great examples that reflect on your personality and attitude. The important thing is that you need to show that you worked hard and tried your best and always try to tell the story with passion and energy, with a smile and always always be enthusiastic.

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Stress Engineering Interview Questions Part 4:

Q: Why do you want to join this company?

Answer: I want to join this company because it offers awesome benefits and salary and it looks great on my resume…. of course I am just kidding, they will walk you out the next minute, BYE BYE!

Additional Information:

This can be an awesome opportunity for you to show the exciting finite element analysis or stress analysis and engineering projects you would like to get involved in, research the company’s products and show what you can contribute and learn from. What they are really looking for is an answer that shows that you are not just looking for a job but to be a contributor and feel proud about it. They want to see not only how much you know about the company but also about yourself.

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Stress Engineering Interview Questions Part 4:

Q: Describe your greatest weakness

Answer: You need to pick something that is seemingly positive but can be described as a weakness

Its a cliche', but this example answer works well and in most cases - I am a Perfectionist.

So why is it seemingly positive?

Its positive because the answer says it all, you want your analysis to be perfect, in theory. So you spend a bit more time than needed, making sure all the checks are done with utmost detail, even if there are huge margins.

OK... so why is it a weakness then?

Because in real life, time is a luxury. There is simply not enough time for everything and that is a fact. Do not make NASA science projects out of every little thing unless that is the kind of job you are trying for, like a research position. In that case, this will certainly be a positive anyway.

So you need to make judgement calls on what is important and what is not. What can be passed on based on engineering judgement? Are all of those checks are really necessary to get a report done? Probably not, so you need to have answers, and be able to tell a story of how you picked the critical checks that were sufficient. You get bonus points right there.

With me so far? Awesome. In the next part, we will discuss some more non technical questions, so make sure you subscribe below to be notified automatically.

In the mean time, you may also want to check out these posts to learn about some qualities I think are essential in a good stress engineer:


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Surya Batchu
Surya Batchu

Surya Batchu is the founder of Stress Ebook LLC. A senior stress engineer specializing in aerospace stress analysis and finite element analysis, Surya has close to two decades of real world aerospace industry experience. He shares his expertise with you on this blog and the website via paid courses, so you can benefit from it and get ahead in your own career.