New job, lots of material to understand

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by EngIntoHW, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. EngIntoHW

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 24, 2010
    128
    0
    Hi,

    I started off a new job and there're lots of new subjects to digest and understand.

    During my first days at work I just sat in front of my PC and read theoretical material about the systems which the team validates.

    How do you deal with so much new material?

    How do you record every new matter you learned so you won't forget it?

    Thank you :)
     
  2. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    1,585
    141
    All new jobs are a bit overwhelming when you first start. Don't worry, you'll absorb and learn.

    My recommendation is to start and keep a lab notebook. If you don't know how to do it, search the web and find out (and shame on your school for not teaching you how). The act of writing things down a) helps you remember and b) forces you to squeeze the essence out of a topic and just write that down.

    Now -- here's what separates the men from the boys (and the women from the girls). Figure out a way to hierarchically organize and cross index all your information so you can find things quickly. There are many methods. Here's what I did in my career. I would accumulate lots of manufacturer's information and kept the most useful of it in two file cabinets. I'd also keep file folders of all experimental data, evaluations, materials lab results, etc. I used to try to organize these things by subject, but that's a waste of time because things change. I finally figured out the best way for me was just to number each file folder (or Pendaflex folder) and keep one or a few things in that folder. Then the index was kept in a computer file. I tagged topics with keywords and then could find things by a keyword search. This also applied to all of the entries in my lab notebooks, office memos, digital information, etc. -- i.e., anything that I felt I might need to refer to again one day.

    The system worked well for me and influenced a number of colleagues to adopt something similar when they saw how effective it was.

    Oh, one final tip. When you cross the line from chronologically-challenged to chronologically-gifted (I'll let you decide when that is), it's a good idea to periodically review the ideas and topics in your lab notebooks. A good engineer/scientist will accumulate many hundreds to thousands of pages of lab notebooks and many MB of digital information and it becomes a challenge to remember some of the things you've worked on before. If you avoid repeating working on a problem you've already solved (or someone else has solved), the effort was worth it. I, uh, speak from experience here. :p
     
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  3. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,765
    2,536
    Find the most experienced person there, and ask him where he would recommend starting. He might even give you some insights that aren't written down.

    If he/she is an engineer, a bag of donuts is not out of order.
     
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  4. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
    3,373
    1,157
    Speed reading, coupled with increased comprehension and retention. Learning with the eye towards retention will require work.

    Here's an illustration I refer to when discussing retention ... You decide on how to best use the graphic.
     
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