Tim Long: MNTC Pre-Engineering and OU graduate

Tim Long: MNTC Pre-Engineering and OU graduate

October 17, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


My name is Tim Long. I was a student at
Westmoore High School. So my junior and senior year of high school I
participated in the first class of the (Pre-Engineering) program which ended up being a great experience to prepare me for college because it exposed me to the engineering
design process and a bunch of CADD tools. My father is a machinist and so I grew
up in a small machine shop and so in junior high I was around the the
machines and the lathes and everything. But in the Pre-Engineering program I was
exposed to a much more rigorous approach to computer integrated manufacturing and CNC and that’s where I really developed a lot of deeper skill sets for CNC
machining and additive manufacturing. In the curriculum we were exposed to
you know CADD, computer integrated manufacturing, digital electronics, so we
had this broad sort of cross-section of different engineering disciplines and
through that process I enjoyed all of it, but the manufacturing side of things
definitely impacted my choice to go with a more mechanical discipline. There’s a small machine shop on campus that’s specific for the mechanical engineering
and aerospace engineering degree programs. I walked in and started hanging out
there just because I like machining and everything and I had prior experience
with it and ended up with a job my freshman year. So I was an undergraduate research assistant so I came in and I started helping the upperclassmen build
their projects. So I made parts for the Sooner Powered Vehicle, the Formula
SAE style race car, I also helped the aerospace engineers with building their
remote control airplanes that they would go and compete with. And then also on the research project side I made a lot of test components and fixtures in a huge
variety of different materials: plastics aluminums, Titaniums, Inconel, and through that I ended up being part of a team my senior year of college that restarted a SAE Baja off-road vehicle team. At OU, we hadn’t had a team in 17 years and so I was one of the founding members that
restarted it and built a vehicle from scratch with no prior designs or models. So we ended up getting to do that as our capstone project and it built on a lot of
the design and the CADD; we used AutoDesk Inventor which is what you know I
learned on in the Pre-Engineering program and it allowed me to do a lot of
really sophisticated design work that most of my peers hadn’t had enough
experience to do. Once we got into the sophomore year of college that’s when
the engineering courses started actually ramping up so we had statics and
dynamics and we started getting into more complex more engineering-focused kind of classes. As we got into those it was very comfortable for me to learn new
material I didn’t spend as much time as a lot of my peers on figuring out like
study habits and how to study and how to approach new things, especially
projects. I loved working on projects because we had had so many projects in
the Pre-Engineering program that it was a very routine normal experience. I ended up discovering that there was an accelerated master’s program in
mechanical engineering so I signed up for that. It had me taking some graduate level courses my senior year of college and so I was taking those and
they counted for both my undergrad credits and my graduate degree credits Some things that really helped me in my
college education were, and further in the working world, were elements of
communication, technical writing, and having a vast array of different
projects and experiences to draw from in approaching a new problem, a new
challenge. One of the really important aspects of the Pre-Engineering program
is that it is going to give you a bunch of skill sets that will help ensure your
success in college. One of the really common things is that like half of the
engineering students end up failing classes and having to retake them and so
they may end up being a super senior where they’ve been there a year
or two longer than they really could have been, and that’s a couple of years of
being in the workforce and earning an income and getting real-world work
experience. Things that I would highly recommend that you do are look at what
teams and project groups are around campus. At OU there’s all sorts of
design-build-fly, all of these types of projects getting involved in them
fosters a lot of those skill sets for communication, teamwork, and design
experience. The ability to go to class and be excited because you just learned
how to apply Mohr’s Circle and understand the stress-strain relationship in the
chassis of the vehicle that you’re designing and building helps to elevate
and connect what you’re learning in class to the real world and how you’re
actually going to apply it. A degree in engineering is not going to be easy. Especially in your really hard science engineering degrees like mechanical
engineering, chemical, industrial, aerospace, even the computer science
degrees now are getting really challenging. In college we had to learn
to be able to sustain good study habits and that meant being able to study for
12 hours in it stretch. It enabled us to focus and stay, you know, stay with it and
sustain a very high level of intellectual output for extended periods
of time which was what we had to do in order to complete all the material and
the assignments and to be successful. That ability to focus in and ignore
distractions becomes critical not only because it enables you to be successful
but also because the things you’re working on are really important. You’re working on systems that may be under thousands of psi of pressure and there’s
a safety hazard there. If you screw up a design calculation it can have some very
real implications to bridges falling, to pipelines exploding, to tanks, you know
leaking. So you have to be very diligent and have to have a very sustained
intellectual input because you start getting tired, you start getting
unfocused, you start losing your grasp on what you’re doing and not paying
attention and those mistakes can be a really big deal. In college I woke up at 6 a.m. and I started studying before work and then I worked in the student
machine shop and I was either in class or at work until you know 6 or 7 at night and then I would start homework. And I would work on homework for, usually until I passed out at 2 a.m. or whatever and then I would get a few hours of
sleep and then I would start it all over again. The classes got so hard that professors would issue a take-home test and give us a week to do it and tell us
that you can even work together. There would be six questions and I might turn in an attempt at two of them and leave the others blank because the problems
were that challenging, even with all of us working together even with all of our
resources at our disposal to try to solve these problems they were that
challenging. I had one class, Computational Methods and Structural Design, that I was spending 40 hours per week on that one class’ homework and I
had three other classes. So the amount of time and effort and energy that goes
into studying and doing well in these courses is not trivial. I was in a meeting just in the past week or so with a bunch of major employers of
engineers in the State of Oklahoma and right now they’re currently hiring
something like four times more engineers than the State of Oklahoma produces, so
they’re bringing in engineers from out of state. So having a engineering degree
locally, you’re already at an advantage. My first job out of college was at a
small oil services company. I was there about four and a half years and then I
had an opportunity to join the team at GE, at a oil and gas R&D center here
in Oklahoma City and on that team my role is as a lead laboratory engineer
and so I facilitate and support all of the research activities that go on in
the lab which could be from drones and artificial intelligence, to data
analytics, to flow loops, and testing. One of the major things that helped me get there was that I had the master’s degree in mechanical engineering with
additive manufacturing because one of my major responsibilities is running a
small prototyping shop with a large, very nice 3D printer. Someone has a great idea for how to do something better, how to change the industry change, the world and then I love to be able to come in and see that vision and get inspired by it
and then start breaking it down into manageable chunks and figuring out how
we can actually make it a reality. I’m pretty excited about my job the ability
to go to work and make a meaningful contribution at a company that has hired
an incredible team to develop the next generation of technologies that are
going to impact the energy industry is pretty exciting.