An engineering aide provides assistance to a specific professional engineer or to an engineering firm as a whole. This position typically encompasses three levels: principal, senior, or junior aide. The primary responsibility for an engineering aide is the assembly and repair of engineering systems. Another function of an engineering aide can include testing mechanical systems. An aide might also be asked to create models, presentations, and graphs for project proposals by engineering firms.
The engineering aide hierarchy usually starts with a principal engineering aide. A person in this position works closely with the head engineer to ensure that other aides are assigned to necessary tasks. An engineering firm might also hire a few senior aides to act as supervisors for specific projects. The entry level in this hierarchy is a junior aide who may be assigned to perform certain tasks needed to turn engineering sketches and models into realities.
For example, the creation of an auto plant or hydropower station relies in part on the the work of one or more engineering aides. Many engineering firms hire aides to work with general laborers to construct mechanical systems based on blueprints. These aides consult with a construction foreman to keep the project within the firm's budget and timetable. Each aide might be assigned to a specific section of the construction project to ensure adherence to the blueprint. The final task for an aide during the construction process may be an inspection of virtually every nut and bolt needed for safe operation.
Most engineering aides spend hours each day inspecting pipes, pressure gauges, and systems monitors. These inspections are necessary to avoid potential leaks, explosions and systems failures. An engineering aide notes performance metrics for systems and determine if these numbers fit within recommended parameters. They also keep track of the structural integrity of engines, pipes, and other elements. These notes are delivered to the head engineer who makes an assessment about the appropriate next steps.
An engineer can also assign an engineering aide to assist with certain research and project proposals. The aide might be asked to head to a university library to search journals, books, and diagrams for a research paper. The more typical research done by an aide is, however, in support of a proposed project by the engineering firm. Project research can encompass tasks ranging from creating 3-D models of blueprints to developing theoretical systems tests with engineering software. It is also common for an engineer to send aides out to proposed work sites for photos and detailed surveys.