Teacher and Student

Reliability engineer as teacher and student

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune. ~ Jim Rohn

The learning never stops. As a reliability engineer we constantly have something to learn. For those unfamiliar with reliability engineering, they have a lot to learn. From new materials, failure analysis tools, customer expectations, and the latest modeling software packages. We also constantly learn from our peers about their disciplines, tradeoffs, considerations, and inventions. We learn about business systems, customer interactions, and financial systems. We can and should learn a lot.

Being a a valuable member of any team means being able to understand how reliability engineering fits in with all the other elements of the company. To be effective we should know the motivations, concerns, dilemmas and obstacles for any group in the organization. And, when working to improve reliability of a product, if we can make some other groups life easier, we should do so.

Building a career relies on knowing what motivates the other people in the room. Understanding them and their contribution to the product helps us make recommendations that help them and improve product reliability.


It is the self education that is important. Take online courses, EDX, Coursea, and others offer a wide range of material for little or no cost. Taking a course in something interests you, even something not directly related to reliability engineering like how to use Adobe Photoshop, may permit you to improve your presentations or website graphics.

Besides just being curious and learning from everyone and anyone you meet, deliberately seek out new material in reliability engineering. Attend webinars, workshops, and conferences. Subscribe to at least two professional journals and listen, read and study to master the material.


Explaining how to analyze field data implies mastery. Explaining it clearly and completely is mastery. For each concept in reliability engineering we generally have to teach others how that concept fits within their realm and decision making. We teach course, seminars, workshops, and one-on-one. I find teaching is approximately one third of my professional day.

Teaching has a few benefits when you are good. Others seek your guidance when considering reliability. Others look to you for help understanding how reliability plays a role in design and business decisions. Being patient, clear, concise all help to build your teacher credibility.

Reliability engineers are information workers. We may run experiments and conduct tests, yet it is the information that has the value. We gather and share information. Being a student permits you to collect information and over a career that should be across many disciplines and interests. Being a teacher we disseminate information for the benefit of others.

If you want to learn about reliability engineering I recommend the site creprep.wordpress.com and the free webinars provided by the ASQ Reliability Division.

About Fred Schenkelberg

I am an experienced reliability engineering and management consultant with my firm FMS Reliability. My passion is working with teams to create cost-effective reliability programs that solve problems, create durable and reliable products, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce warranty costs.

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