I’m currently a full-time R&D engineer on laparoscopic surgical tools. My career path has been more circuitous than many but looking back I would change very little. My degrees are in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan, but I’m now more of a Mechanical/Electrical guy. I took some classes in the ME department, but after seeing decisions made by MEs I’m glad to have avoided the full program! (Let’s just say the 3D printing revolution may be coming, but it is not here yet . . . and you can solve a lot of temporary fixturing issues with c-clamps and 2x4s).
I did remodeling full-time for 3 years while on hiatus from “official” engineering, and still hold a builder’s license in Michigan. Several projects have (and do) focus on efficiency improvements for this type of work. I also started (and shuttered) a laser cut lake maps business in this period (video) (photos)
From fall 2015 to spring 2017 I focused exclusively on mechanical projects. The standing desk was the most notable one. I also improved dramatically in machining and welding, skills that have been crucial to my current R&D work. YouTube is often mocked for silly videos but has an an incredible amount of machining, welding and electronics knowledge available.
I am also assisted by my brother Eric, who also enjoys projects and went to trade school for machining and CNC equipment.