Project Engineering

Project Engineering

The Essential Toolbox for Young Engineers

1st Edition - May 21, 2007

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  • Author: Frederick Plummer
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080546216
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780750682794

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For newly hired young engineers assigned to their first real 'project', there has been little to offer in the way of advice on 'where to begin', 'what to look out for and avoid', and 'how to get the job done right'. This book gives this advice from an author with long experience as senior engineer in government and industry (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Exxon-Mobil). Beginning with guidance on understanding the typical organizational structure of any type of technical firm or company, author Plummer incorporates numerous hands-on examples and provides help on getting started with a project team, understanding key roles, and avoiding common pitfalls. In addition, he offers unique help on first-time experiences of working in other countries with engineering cultures that can be considerably different from the US.

Key Features

  • Reviews essentials of management for any new engineer suddenly thrust into responsibility
  • Emphasizes skills that can get you promoted—and pitfalls that can get you fired
  • Expanded case study to show typical evolution of a new engineer handed responsibility for a major design project


Engineers typically put in charge of complex design projects, including mechanical, industrial, chemical, and civil engineers; New and mid-level managers in manufacturing and process industries responsible for team management on engineering projects; Both senior undergraduate and graduate-level engineers about to enter the workplace, including mechanical, industrial, civil, electrical, and chemical engineers

Table of Contents

  • Preface and Acknowledgement
    Chapter 1
    When Opportunity Knocks
    Where do you start?
    Your Boss(es)
    What do they want?
    Do it!
    Chapter 2
    What Do Project Engineers Do?
    Total Area Responsibility
    Types of Areas
    Defining the Area
    The Project Engineer’s Duties
    Plan and Control the Basic Work
    Lead Safety
    Identify, Assess, and Mitigate Risk
    Achieve Quality Standards
    Control Schedule and Cost
    Balance the Safety, Quality, Cost, and Schedule Priorities
    Control Interfaces
    Manage Changes
    Solve Problems and Commercial Issues
    Lead the Effort
    Chapter 3
    A Crash Course in Management
    The Way It Should Be
    The Task Side
    The People Side
    The Way It Is
    Management Skills for a Project Engineer
    People-related Questions
    Task-related Questions
    Chapter 4
    How Projects Work
    Plan the Work and Work the Plan
    Overall Project Framework
    Major Phases
    Project Management
    Planning: Evaluation and Definition
    Project Approval
    Project Implementation: Engineering and Procurement
    Engineering and Procurement -- an Integrated Process
    Project Implementation: Manufacturing
    Client Input
    Planning, Basis Development, and Systems Engineering
    Manufacturing and Subcontracting
    Time Pressure
    Role of Project Engineers
    Project Implementation: Construction
    Construction Systems
    Area Focus
    Consequences of Mistakes and Changes
    Client Intervention
    Focus Shifts to Systems at the End
    Project Implementation: Commissioning and Startup
    Transitions and Handoffs
    Back to Project Engineering
    Chapter 5
    Learning Project Engineering on the Job: A Case Study
    Case Study
    September 20 Sara sends up an SOS
    September 21: Sara’s Fax to Kramer
    September 24: Trouble around the Bend
    October 1: Jeff gets squeezed
    October 1: Edgar jump-starts the engineering
    October 1: Chet taps the “good ole boy” network
    October 1: Planning meeting continues -- the compressor is a problem
    October 4: Sara digs in her heels
    October 13: The design review hits the fan
    October 13: Changes cost big-time
    October 28: Good work but bad results
    November 3: Crunch-time
    November 8: Jeff shows up
    November 16: The negotiation
    November 22: A pause to enjoy and ponder
    Reflection on the Case
    Chapter 6
    Skills That Can Get You Ahead
    Perspective on Getting Ahead
    What Does it Mean to Get Ahead?
    What Does it Take to Get Ahead?
    Technical Skills and Hard Work
    Personal Efficiency and Effectiveness
    Business Judgment
    Performance Evaluations and the Competition
    Office Politics
    Dealing with Office Politics
    Social Skills
    Perspective Revisited
    Chapter 7
    Things That Can Get You Fired
    Laws and Regulations
    Finance and Accounting
    Bribery and Corruption
    Classified, Proprietary, and Other Confidential Information
    False Reporting
    Employment Application
    Records and Timesheets
    Test Results, Data, and Research Results
    Required Reporting
    Drugs and Alcohol
    Conflict of Interest
    Types of Conflicts of Interest
    Other Organizational Ethics Policies
    Drawing the Line
    Chapter 8
    International Business Skills
    The Cultural Game
    Global Business
    Start with Yourself
    Culture Shock is Real
    Coping Strategies
    Inter-cultural Skills
    What has to Change in the International Setting?
    Cross-cultural Communications Skills
    Time, Goals, and Patience
    An Approach to Resolving Differences
    Application to the Project Engineer’s Job
    Gaining Rapport
    International Project Planning
    The International Toolbox
    Chapter 9
    Advice from the Pros
    Advice from Young Project Engineers
    How to Approach the Job
    Foreign Construction Work
    Advice from a Senior Executive
    Achieving Results
    Advice from Project Engineers, Managers, and Executives
    Project Proverbs
    An Intercultural Aspect of Contracting
    Project Engineering for Manufacturing High-tech Equipment
    Structuring and Organizing Engineering and Procurement on Mega-Projects
    Key Lessons Learned from a Handful of Engineering and Procurement Mega-projects
    Planning a High-tech, Global IT Project: Management Support and Buy-in
    Quality: An Historical Perspective
    Balancing Quality, Cost, and Schedule
    Risk Management and Dealing with Crises
    Risk Management: A Project Manager’s View
    Risk Management: An Engineer’s View
    Risk Management: Beginnings and Endings
    Risk Management: Dealing with Crises and Calling Timeout
    Risk Mitigation through Organizational Development and Alignment Programs
    Looking Back: How to Approach the Job
    Looking Back: The Project Engineer’s Role
    Looking Back: A Career Strategy
    An Interview with an Experienced Project Engineer and Manager
    Chapter 10
    Approach the Job with Confidence
    The Pygmalion Effect
    You have a Sound Basis for Your Confidence
    The Foundation: Education and Interpersonal Skills
    To Get Started in the Workplace
    The Project Engineer’s Basic Duties
    How to Manage Tasks and People
    How Projects Work
    Job Experience from the Case Study
    Knowing What it Takes to Get Ahead
    An Understanding of Acceptable Business Conduct
    How to Approach Working Internationally
    Sound Advice from Project Professionals
    The Opportunities and Boundless
    About the Author

Product details

  • No. of pages: 240
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Butterworth-Heinemann 2007
  • Published: May 21, 2007
  • Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080546216
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780750682794

About the Author

Frederick Plummer

Affiliations and Expertise

President Project Integrity Consulting, Houston, Texas

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