Skills Physical Metallurgical Engineer near Sherbrooke (QC)

Find out what skills you typically need to work as a physical metallurgical engineer in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Metallurgical and materials engineers (NOC 2142).

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation. This section will be updated soon.

Reading
  • Read handling and storage instructions on labels of workplace materials such as solvents and cleaners. (1)
  • Read handwritten notes from co-workers, and comments written on test, production reporting and analysis forms. (1)
  • Read e-mail from co-workers and clients scheduling and confirming meeting arrangements, responding to questions or enquiring about the status and content of projects. (2)
  • Read trade publications such as the American Iron and Steel Institute Newsletter, Professional Engineering, Plant Engineering and Maintenance, Canadian Process Equipment and Control, Canadian Consulting Engineer, Canadian Plastics, Plastics in Canada and Laboratory Product. They read these publications to stay abreast of industry events and learn about new equipment, processes and materials. (2)
  • Read instruction manuals for testing, processing and information technology equipment. For example, they may refer to software user manuals to review specific functions or steps needed to simulate engineering processes or to troubleshoot faulty laboratory and materials testing equipment. They may also read manuals and guidelines from regulatory bodies such as the Canadian Standards Association and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to ensure that new products and processes conform to standards. (3)
  • Read reports from technicians and technologists which describe tests on materials, machinery and processes for discussions. For example, a metallurgical engineer may read a report on the strength testing of high phosphorus brass. The engineer reviews the complex analyses contained in the report to determine the need for adjustments to materials, machinery or processes and to identify factors requiring further investigation and testing. (4)
  • Read 'requests for proposals' for projects which involve the extraction, concentration, refining, processing, testing, moulding, shaping, forming, characterization or treatment of metals and non-metallic materials. They read each request for proposals to identify the technical requirements and determine whether their organizations have the necessary skills and resources to undertake the projects. (4)
  • Read a wide range of academic journals such as Materials Performance, Practical Failure Analysis, Macromolecules, Polymer Journal and Composite Science and Technology. They select and read relevant articles to learn about chemical and physical analytical studies, failure analyses and other experiments on materials and find solutions to particular problems such as the corrosion of metal parts. They also refer to these articles when creating test plans, developing theories or searching supportive evidence for recommendations. (4)
Document use
  • Read data from test result forms completed by co-workers. For example, an engineer may read the results of a stress strain test to find the ultimate tensile stress point for a material under stress. (1)
  • Read lists of safety and quality standards to be met by materials and products. (1)
  • Scan container labels to verify ingredients, concentrations, volumes, weights and to observe hazard icons. (1)
  • Refer to schedules and resource allocation matrices to find information about phases, activities, resources, milestones and deadlines of their projects. (2)
  • Complete forms to record processes. For example, to fill in melting process forms, they may collect and enter details such as the pouring temperature, metal temperature, initial chemical composition, timings of chemical additions, mould pouring and material samplings. (3)
  • Analyze and take information from a variety of images and scans. For example, materials engineers may use optical, scanning electron, transmission electron and atomic force microscopes to investigate the mechanical and microstructural characteristics of polymer-based composites and nanocomposites. (3)
  • Scan schematics to understand the various processes used in the production of materials and components. For example, they may refer to the schematic drawings of chemical extraction processes to understand process stages and identify control points. (3)
  • Analyse graphs of test results to identify anomalies in data and potential correlations between variables. These analyses may lead them to further refine methodological approaches for subsequent tests. For example, an engineer may analyse graphs showing the abundance of various chemical elements in corrosion deposits when investigating the causes of sucker rod pump failures during oil well production. (3)
  • Review construction drawings when setting up new pieces of testing or processing equipment. They take measurements from structural and mechanical system drawings to check that new and existing equipment can be set up efficiently. (4)
Writing
  • Write e-mail to co-workers, colleagues, suppliers and clients to remind them of project due dates, ask for technical information and respond to enquiries. (1)
  • Write brief comments on forms to record their observations of engineering processes. (1)
  • Write short papers for co-workers upon return from training courses or conferences. They summarize the courses or conferences and identify topics which are relevant to their organizations or important for current projects. (2)
  • Prepare comprehensive procedures for new testing, processing and manufacturing processes. For example, they may write melting, refining, casting or degassing procedures that establish the rules and steps technicians have to follow when carrying out their tasks. They must be explicit and precise to reduce ambiguity and the possibility of misinterpretation. (3)
  • Write detailed test reports which describe test objectives and procedures, discuss results and offer conclusions and recommendations. They write primarily for technical experts in their research and operational teams, but they may also edit and rewrite these reports so that they can be easily understood by managers and clients. (4)
  • Draft proposals or analyses recommending repair or replacement of processing or testing equipment and submit them to managers or clients for approval. In these studies, they generally include descriptions of various options; analyses of equipment, service and maintenance costs for each option; health and safety assessments; and justifications of options recommended. For example, a metallurgical engineer may prepare a proposal recommending the replacement of a heat treatment furnace worth twenty million dollars. (4)
  • May write lengthy proposals for projects related to their areas of expertise. They must address key client needs and convey complex concepts in an effective manner. They usually need to gather and select technical descriptions from multiple sources and rewrite them for non-technical audiences. In some instances, however, they must write content for the sole purpose of the proposals. For example, an engineer may prepare a proposal for research on a flow constriction problem. (4)
  • May write articles for scientific journals, conference proceedings or research publications. They summarize research protocols, difficulties encountered in conducting experiments, scientific principles used to analyse data collected, results obtained and their significance. For example, an engineer may report on the shaping of metallic powders or on the thermal modelling of direct chill castings for magnesium billets. (5)
NumeracyMoney Math
  • Calculate and verify travel claim amounts. They calculate reimbursements for use of personal vehicles at per kilometre rates, and add amounts for accommodation, meals and other expenses. (2)
  • May prepare or approve invoices. They multiply the number of days worked by daily rates, add amounts for equipment and materials, calculate applicable taxes and total the values on the invoices. (2)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Determine quantities of materials to purchase. For example, an engineer may determine the amount of magnesium, copper, zinc, gold, pellets of polymer, additives or acid solutions needed to run a series of tests. (2)
  • Review various options for the repair or replacement of processing or testing equipment. For example, they may review quantitative information on various high-powered microscopes. They perform comparative analyses of technical features and of equipment, service and maintenance costs and determine which option offers best value. (3)
  • Prepare and monitor budgets for testing and production projects. They ensure that expenditures incurred for equipment, materials and labour remain within budgeted amounts. They must frequently adjust budget line items because of equipment breakdowns, loss of staff or other unexpected events. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Time the duration of processing and testing operations using timers, stopwatches and digital readouts. For example, an engineer may time the process of formulating and injecting a compound to ensure that it can be accomplished within a certain time limit. (1)
  • Calculate amounts of materials required for mixtures, compounds, alloys and composites. For example, a metallurgical engineer may calculate the amounts of several metals needed for a specified amount of zinc alloy. (2)
  • Calculate physical dimensions and scale distances when designing industrial equipment and facilities. They measure scale distances, convert them to actual distances and calculate areas, volumes and perimeters. (3)
  • Use specialized instruments and methods to measure the values of one or more parameters during experiments. For example, they may measure the atomic absorption rate of the various elements in a compound solution with a spectroscope or X-ray fluorescents. They may also take precise measurements of particles using micro scales. (4)
  • Use advanced mathematical methods and algorithms to model the behaviour of materials under various conditions. For instance, they may use mathematical modelling to predict the evolution of temperature during the direct chill casting of magnesium billets. They may also use modelling to predict the failures of flow-sensing devices or hoisting electric load chains. (5)
Data Analysis Math
  • Collect and analyse data on various variables such as time, weight, temperature, volume, density and pressure to identify averages, ranges, rates and trends. For example, they may collect and analyse data on brass alloys to determine the allowable range of phosphorus that reduces the alloy's melting point without decreasing its strength or affecting other mechanical properties. (3)
  • Choose a number of process variables and identify the relative effect of each variable through analyses of variance. For example, an engineer may determine that parts and components fail due to corrosion, fatigue, material defect or overload and identify the primary causes through an analysis of variance. (4)
  • Identify optimal measurement and testing strategies, potential sources of bias and methodological techniques to study the properties and characteristics of materials. Once test results have been collected, they perform statistical significance tests on the results. (5)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the time needed to prepare presentations and training courses. For example, an engineer may estimate the time needed to prepare a course for co-workers on the heat treatment of materials. (1)
  • Estimate life spans of materials such as cast steel. They may use formulas which take into account corrosion or material degradation, but these equations do not incorporate all of the variables and engineers' judgement is also required. (2)
  • Estimate the number of additional trials required to obtain a valid statistical correlation between various data. Many factors are involved in the estimate and a fair degree of precision is required to ensure the scientific validity of results. (3)
Oral communication
  • Talk to suppliers about technical specifications, price quotes, service options and delivery times for new materials, equipment and supplies. (1)
  • Interact with employees such as machine operators, toolmakers, technologists, technicians and other engineers and scientists to coordinate testing, production control and development of machinery. They assign new tasks, review completed tasks and enquire about the status of ongoing work. (2)
  • Meet engineering managers or clients to discuss project proposals, priorities, schedules and progress, and obtain guidance, recommendations or approvals. They may also meet to negotiate project deadlines and budgets and present solutions to problems with designs, processes or materials. (3)
  • Participate in industry-wide meetings with colleagues from manufacturing companies, research institutes, educational institutions, consulting firms, professional associations and government departments. They discuss matters of common interest such as materials research, process and equipment design, and manufacturing of new materials. (3)
  • Participate in meetings with co-workers to discuss equipment, procedures, test results, potential markets for new materials and products and a range of other topics. At these meetings, they may present information about testing techniques they have designed, machinery or processes they have developed or papers they have written. They may also discuss applications of new materials for related fields such as mechanical and electrical engineering. (3)
  • Lead problem solving sessions with small and large groups of employees. For example, a metallurgical engineer may facilitate a group session to find ways of improving the operation of older machinery. The engineer's role is to monitor and support the group and, using a variety of exercises and settings, analyze problems and develop solutions. At the end of each analytical or problem solving session, the engineer facilitates the synthesis of information and guides the group in the development of a series of recommendations which can be presented to clients, plant managers and co-workers. The engineer's team building and management skills may be evaluated on the success of these meetings. (3)
  • May testify as expert witnesses in courts to establish the liability of companies with respect to failures. They may present test findings and opinions about how and why parts or components have failed through corrosion, fatigue, material defect or overload. Metallurgical engineers may have to answer challenging, complex and unpredictable questions from members of the court. They may have to choose their words carefully because many of those attending court hearings are unfamiliar with the technical concepts at issue. (4)
ThinkingProblem Solving
  • Realize there are skill shortages within their project teams. They alert management and discuss whether or not funding will be made available to recruit team members with the expertise needed. (2)
  • Observe practices which constitute hazards to the safety of machine and equipment operators. They may meet with their purchasing departments to discuss technical specifications for personal protective equipment, identify appropriate suppliers and arrange for the fastest possible delivery. They may also modify processes or machinery to make work safer. (3)
  • Discover that some of their employees, such as junior engineers, have deviated from project plans. They work with them to identify where the loss of focus started and then guide them in the proper direction. They monitor work closely to ensure they perform expected project tasks and meet deadlines. (3)
  • Realize that they will not be able to meet testing objectives without major revisions to plans. For example, an engineer may discover near the end of a test sequence that the number of trials left will not be sufficient to create a statistically valid analysis. The engineer may estimate the number of additional trials required to obtain a valid correlation between the data and ask managers or clients to extend the testing phase. If an extension cannot be obtained, the engineer may find ways of extrapolating existing data to increase the validity of test results. (3)
  • Receive complaints from clients who have discovered defects with materials or products which have been delivered. Engineers recall the materials or products and test them to identify why the defects are occurring, what modifications are required to prevent the defects and what protocol can be used to test the effectiveness of any changes made. They may have to perform major overhauls or redesign the materials or products to resolve the defects. (4)
Decision Making
  • Decide which tasks to assign to technologists, technicians and other engineers on their teams. They consider their individual strengths and weaknesses, work experiences and abilities to meet deadlines. (2)
  • Decide which types of graphs to use for displaying information relevant to test results. They consider the strengths and limitations of each graph type for displaying particular types of data, the messages they want to emphasize and the level of technical expertise of their audiences. (2)
  • Select software to simulate engineering processes, identify design problems and test proposed solutions. (2)
  • Decide to participate in specific research, formulation, design, manufacturing, failure analysis and operational testing projects. To help them decide, they review proposals to evaluate projects' technical requirements and determine whether their organizations have the time and skill sets needed to bring them to fruition. (3)
  • Choose the methods, times, locations, durations and resources needed to train employees. They may have to study the cost and feasibility of several different options and consider the need to replace workers during training. Past training decisions provide only limited guidance since machinery or processes are rarely the same. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate the safety and quality of products before launching them. They conduct extensive tests and failure analyses before they certify that products meet technical specifications of shape, appearance, dimensions, tensile strength and various other mechanical, chemical and electromagnetic properties. For example, before launching new boats, a metallurgical and materials engineer must consider the eventuality of corrosion. (4)
  • Evaluate the suitability of metals, alloys and metallic systems, ceramics, polymers, semiconducting and other materials for specific applications. They define methodologies to study the properties and characteristics of materials and direct junior engineers, technicians and technologists in the use of techniques such as magnaflux examinations, spectrometric chemical analysis, optical, scanning or, transmission electron, and atomic force microscopy. For example, they may assess the suitability of new compounds and their variations, and replacement materials for computer screens. They may also assess the suitability of materials used in various biomimetic implants for biomedical applications. (4)
  • Assess the efficiency, safety and environmental friendliness of various processes of extraction, concentration, refining, processing, testing, moulding, shaping, forming, characterization and treatment of metals and non-metallic materials. They determine evaluation criteria which may include material usage and costs, process time, overall performance, noise level, dust, heat and emissions' generation, physical exertion and ergonomic issues resulting from process implementation. For example, they may assess the efficiency, safety and environmental friendliness of deposition by plasma, electric arc, subsonic and supersonic flames of metal, ceramic and metal-ceramic coatings and polymers. (4)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Metallurgical and materials engineers work in dynamic environments with many conflicting demands on their time. Their work is team-oriented so that they must integrate their own tasks and work schedules with those of many technicians, technologists, other engineers and scientists to develop and monitor processes and procedures used in extraction, concentration, refining, processing, testing, moulding, shaping, forming, characterization or treatment of metals and other materials. Their ability to work on several tasks at the same time and manage priorities is critical to their jobs. Changing corporate priorities, customer complaints, equipment breakdowns and emergencies frequently change their priorities and compel the reordering of job tasks. (4)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Metallurgical and materials engineers play a central role in organizing, planning and scheduling day-to-day operations and may contribute to long-term and strategic planning for their organizations. They are responsible for assigning tasks to junior engineers, technicians and technologists. (4)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember security codes to access computers and networks.
  • Remember the appropriate shape, appearance, dimensions and texture of materials and products to assess their quality.
  • Remember the acceptable range of values of each parameter to be measured and controlled during process experiments.
  • Recall the names of the many engineers, scientists, technicians and technologists working with them in order to facilitate communication.
Finding Information
  • Find historical testing, production and quality control data by searching databases and other records. (2)
  • Find information on chemical compositions and material properties by searching textbooks, scientific journals and websites. (3)
  • Find information needed to resolve production and testing problems by reading academic journals and trade publications. They need to analyse, synthesize and integrate information from a wide range of sources, including the Internet, to develop innovative solutions. (4)
Digital technology
  • Use the Internet. For example, they may perform keyword searches to get technical information about materials, laboratory components or processing equipment from websites. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they create lengthy proposals and test reports using programs such as Word. They supplement text with imported graphs, photographs and spreadsheet tables. They use formatting features such as page numbering, heading levels, indices, footnotes and columns. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, they may create databases using programs such as Access to manage data for document and time tracking systems and to store and retrieve testing, production or quality control data. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they use programs such as Excel to create scheduling and budgeting spreadsheets and monitor the progress of project activities and tasks. They also use spreadsheets to analyse testing data and perform calculations. (3)
  • Use communication software. For example, they may create and maintain distribution lists, receive correspondence and send e-mail and attachments to project team members. (3)
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, they may use modelling software to simulate engineering processes, photo editing software to develop and enlarge photos taken with digital cameras, microscope software to view and analyse pictures and images on microscopes. They may also use project management software to schedule activities and organize information related to human resources, equipment-use and operational costs. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they create slide shows using presentation software such as PowerPoint. In order to develop effective presentations for management or clients and to illustrate project progress, they may import graphs, scanned images, process drawings, word processing files and spreadsheet tables. (4)
  • Use statistical analysis software. For example, they may use software like Statistical Process Control, Statistica, KaleidaGraph or SigmaPlot to create statistical designs for experiments, monitor variables in testing procedures, plot linear functions and calculate means, medians, standard deviations and confidence intervals. (4)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they may perform keyword searches to get technical information about materials, laboratory components or processing equipment from websites. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they create lengthy proposals and test reports using programs such as Word. They supplement text with imported graphs, photographs and spreadsheet tables. They use formatting features such as page numbering, heading levels, indices, footnotes and columns. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, they may create databases using programs such as Access to manage data for document and time tracking systems and to store and retrieve testing, production or quality control data. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they use programs such as Excel to create scheduling and budgeting spreadsheets and monitor the progress of project activities and tasks. They also use spreadsheets to analyse testing data and perform calculations. (3)
  • Use communication software. For example, they may create and maintain distribution lists, receive correspondence and send e-mail and attachments to project team members. (3)
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, they may use modelling software to simulate engineering processes, photo editing software to develop and enlarge photos taken with digital cameras, microscope software to view and analyse pictures and images on microscopes. They may also use project management software to schedule activities and organize information related to human resources, equipment-use and operational costs. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they create slide shows using presentation software such as PowerPoint. In order to develop effective presentations for management or clients and to illustrate project progress, they may import graphs, scanned images, process drawings, word processing files and spreadsheet tables. (4)
  • Use statistical analysis software. For example, they may use software like Statistical Process Control, Statistica, KaleidaGraph or SigmaPlot to create statistical designs for experiments, monitor variables in testing procedures, plot linear functions and calculate means, medians, standard deviations and confidence intervals. (4)
Additional informationOther Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Metallurgical and materials engineers perform some tasks independently but generally, they work with teams of machine operators, technicians, technologists, other engineers and scientists. They work independently to create production or test plans, analyse test results or write reports, but most other tasks are carried out jointly with team members. They work closely with management to realize corporate objectives. They coordinate their work with that of other engineers and scientists to conduct experiments on materials, engineering processes and machinery, and to find solutions to problems related to optimization, quality control and health and safety. They may collaborate with manufacturers, research institutes, educational institutions, consulting firms, professional associations and government departments to share technology intelligence and innovations. (3)

They supervise technicians, technologists and other engineers in the research, formulation, design, manufacturing, failure analysis and operational testing of materials and of products such as silverware, plastic Frisbees, ceramic flowerpots or bricks, iron golf clubs, car parts, fibreglass canoes, fibre optic communication lines and polyester clothing. They may also mentor engineering students and junior engineers in internship programs on their work teams. (3)

Continuous Learning

Metallurgical and materials engineers are required to continually update their skills and knowledge of new materials, equipment and engineering processes. On a day-to-day basis, they learn through observation and by analysing data and discussing with co-workers and colleagues. They read scientific journals, newsletters, trade publications, instruction manuals and compact disks, watch videos, visit web sites, and attend conferences, seminars, symposia, workshops and university courses. (4)

Metallurgical and materials engineers are licensed by the engineering society or order of the province in which they practise. They may be required to develop their own learning plans and engage in continuous learning to maintain their professional certification. (4)

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