What you can do when you don’t know what to do.

Are you disillusioned about things? Are the economic times getting you down? Are the bills mounting up? Are you going to give up? Are you ready to fight back doing something for yourself? Take a minute and listen to a couple of ideas. I'm not selling anything here but I do care about what you are doing and could be doing.

What would I do?

By Corporal Willy August 11th 2010

       Actually, who in their right mind would suggest to someone else what to do in bad economic times? There is a tendency to hold on to what you have and ride out the storm. That is the safe thing to do; it is conservative and pretty comfortable but very boring. People that are daring and take chances aren’t comfortable in the comfortable zone. Allow me to elaborate here.

     I need to paint a picture in your mind first and then you can decide if this is something you could do or not. I’ll say at the outset here that this road is not for everyone. Remember that there was a time that most of the people in the world thought that the world was flat. But venturous souls did not believe that and they wanted to prove it. If you lived back then who would you have been?

   Here is the picture. You are a young licensed engineer. Fully trained and raring to go, but where? Times are bad and there aren’t enough jobs around for everyone for a very long time now. You spent lots of money on your education and studied very hard. You are ready to conquer the world but no one is hiring. You have a little money saved but you have bills too. There is an engagement ring you plan on giving her but maybe that will have to wait. Two can live as cheaply as one they say, but sometimes you want a piece of steak too. You look at those books from your college or university and ask yourself “what good is all of that knowledge when I can’t use what I learned.” In mid-morning you turn on MSNBC and hear the Stock Market people referring to this economic down turn as a Double Dip Recession now. Whatever that is you say. An open can of your favorite beverage is in your hand and you are thinking about what you are going to do next. You spent a lot of time composing your resume’ applying for jobs, going on endless interviews and keeping track of all your mileage because it is a tax deduction someone told you about. Well what are you going to do? What would I do?

    Well I can quote all kinds of cliché’s about “when the going gets tuff the tuff get going” and “never put a wishbone where your backbone ought to be.” Those things are easy to say to you. But at my age now, I don’t have to work through another recession again. During my five years of apprenticeship school and 40 years as a construction electrician, every time the Stock Market sneezed, the construction industry would get a cold. For many years I looked for work or traveled far away from home where there were jobs that I could work on and send my wife money so she could take care of the house and kids. It wasn’t any fun, but I wanted you to know that I have been there and done that. So here is my idea to you if you are willing to listen. Of course you don’t have to either.

     You have applied for work at so many places, but have you given any thought about a teaching career? We have several engineers that are teaching in our school district and they make really fine teachers because they teach subjects they know well and have worked in for a living. That is just a thought I am throwing out to you. That idea might have shocked you a little but it is a valid choice. It also pays the bills for now and you might even like it. But what I really wanted to ask you is if you have ever thought about creating your own business.

     So let us set up a pseudo company called Exotic Engineering Endeavors, Ltd. Inc. You have a roof over your head, you have an education, you own a computer. You have your reference books, trade journals and there is always the library, social networks like this one and you have the internet that can help you. If you have read this far you are then thinking about what this old guy has as an idea. At least you know you are absolutely going to get hired. Where do I start? Well you should and I would too, check out the Small Business Association. Just do a search. They will want to see a business plan. Well if you can research that subject on the internet you will learn how to compose that Business Plan if you need help with the many things that need to be done. Don’t stop there. How much money will you need to get in order to buy what I need? Some of this depends upon what kind of an engineer you are, like a Mechanical, Chemical, Structural, Electrical, Aeronautical, Marine, etc… What kinds of tools do you need to get started with? Think about what you did to learn your career. Did you use software programs to enhance your skill levels? Where they for architectural or mechanical or perhaps electrical and electronic programs? Are they 2D or 3D programs that you used in school? Well here is where old Corporal Willy can help you or at least advise you to look into this area of that “dream business called Exotic Engineering Endeavors, Ltd., Inc. You have an idea what these programs the school used cost and they aren’t cheap. How about some free 2D programs if you are comfortable with those in your work? Well if you want free programs then how about DoubleCAD XT, or SolidEdge has a 2D free give away and so does Dassault Systèmes with Draft it which is another great and free 2D program. It is hard to beat those deals and there are more out there too. Simple searches will turn up many more. But you say that you need something more full featured than a limited 2D program. Sometimes you like to do mechanical parts, assemblies and drawings and at other times you still like to draw out architectural concepts and drawings. But there is no way you are going to be able to shell out those prices that the programs used in school cost for a commercial version. Well all is not lost yet. There is a program that can do mechanical and architectural and is fully compatible with all the Autodesk main native formats and can be set up to do all you would ever need to have as your main “do it all” program. Take a look at IMSI/Design’s TurboCAD Platinum Version 17. Go to: http://www.turbocad.com/TurboCAD/TurboCADWindows/TurboCADProPlatinum17/tabid/1556/Default.aspx

This program can do it all and it is priced at $1495.00 so take a look at that while you are planning to start your business plan and get those needed tools. (It should all be a tax deductible expenditure for you, but make sure you check with your tax guy or gal) Now sometimes you like to animate your ideas. Yes, there is an add in for this ability to do animations. Now get this little bit of news. You are good at that mechanical engineering stuff but your ideas need to be converted over to G Code for manufacturing those parts you dream up. Just recently IMSI/Design and Visual Mill have gotten an agreement going so now you can do that too. Fully featured abilities going up to 4 axis work. Go to: http://www.mecsoft.com/ and read to see what you like there and it works great with TurboCAD Pro or Platinum editions. If you need something more here that is not included in what I have tried to make you aware of, then I’m at a loss. Mecsoft makes VisualMill and you can find out more about it here: http://www.mecsoft.com/PressReleases/MecSoft-IMSIPartnership.pdf Now depending upon what you need for now or if you want to be able to cover all the bases than spend the $2000 dollars and get everything you need in CAM. Now I have been keeping tabs on things here and so far we are at about $3500 dollars and you now have the basic weapons you need to assault the recession with and to fight back. Can you do it? Who knows and that is up to you. But it is something to think about. I’ve spent more money ;for old clunkers to get me to the next job for awhile and I couldn’t take it off my income taxes either. It is your choice but you told those perspective employers that you could handle their jobs assignments by being positive and that you are willing to learn and work hard. Well here is the chance to do it but for yourself if you are ready to consider not surrendering to the recession’s invisible army. Good luck and keep fighting back. Corporal Willy