An engineering assistant (EA) provides support services within an engineering department or firm. Responsibilities of an individual in an EA position can vary depending on the needs of the project, company, or program. While some engineering assistants perform daily tasks as needed by more senior engineering staff, others may be assigned to a specific technical portion or component of a larger program. Some general tasks that may be assigned to an engineering assistant include creating project scheduling and tracking spreadsheets, providing engineering drawings, managing program files, writing and updating technical documentation, and designing databases.
Engineering disciplines can encompass architecture, landscape planning, urban infrastructure, aerospace, medical devices, security systems, manufacturing facilities and equipment, and other specialties. Within each of these areas, an engineering assistant typically will serve as a member of an engineering team. A team of engineers may be responsible for the design, implementation, upgrade, and documentation related to a specific client need and contract, and an EA can be assigned to support the demands of the product.
Other areas of responsibility for an EA include corresponding with clients, executing software or hardware testing, and attending and recording project meetings. An EA may report to a single engineering program manager who serves as a mentor. It is also possible for an engineering assistant to be partnered with many engineers and support staff as program priorities and deadlines shift.
Becoming an engineer requires years of education, but an engineering assistant may be hired while still completing courses toward a degree. Other EAs join firms in entry-level positions after graduation from a university or technical facility. They may be recruited for special skills acquired during schooling, or they may be brought on specifically for promotion to other roles as experience is gained. Others may serve as an assistant on a project without having an engineering background. A technical writer, computer support administrator, or an administrative assistant, for example, may acquire the experience needed to act as an EA.
Due to the wide variety of specializations, skills, and technical proficiencies required of engineers, performing research and asking questions can be important during job searches to help a candidate understand the expectations of the particular role being filled. An EA may work independently or under close supervision on a short-term or long-term project at a large or small company. It is generally understood that an engineering assistant role should be filled carefully to fit individual and team needs and goals.