As an Engineer, I am fortunate enough to have exposure to machine tools on a near-constant basis, as well as manufacturing processes and inspection procedures. You can learn a lot from books and reference materials, but there is no replacement for hands-on experience and trying something for yourself. It’s the difference between knowledge and experience. A good engineer must have a solid understanding of specs, standards, measuring, and the overall manufacturing process, but it is not enough to know each individually — they are all intertwined. To make the jump from knowledge to understanding, engineers need to “talk to the shop.” I remember being a young engineering student with my head stuffed full of basic machining knowledge. At the time, I thought it would be easy to design precision parts on paper. I quickly realized that I couldn’t just make things up as I went along — I had to actually assign tolerances to these parts! Someone else was supposed to actually make the parts.