Graduate students are often in need of college or university positions that provide them with a living stipend in addition to experience in their field, which makes lab technician roles a common graduate school position. In an engineering college, lab technicians can fill many different roles, so it is important to consider what lab technician jobs will be best suited for the working experiences as student needs.
A majority of work in scientific research revolves around preparation. One of the primary roles of a laboratory technician in engineering is to prepare materials and subjects for testing by a lead investigator, scientist or researcher. Lab technicians should ensure that all materials are well maintained and ready for use on days that testing is scheduled to occur. Technicians should also make sure that materials meet the experimental standards set by the lead investigator.
Lab technicians are also expected to assist the lead investigator on testing days. This can be routine tasks such as retrieving needed materials on demand but can also involve the technician's deep engagement with the test, such as helping to control the experimental apparatus. Success requires strict adherence to the requests of the lead investigator.
After data has been collected from a particular test lab, technicians will often be given the responsibility of transferring it into a computer database. This task can take many hours and be highly tedious, but it is a position of high responsibility because any inaccuracies in data records could greatly effect the outcome of the test. This duty requires stamina and attention to detail to be completed successfully.
Labs must be kept clean and orderly at all times and keeping custody of the lab often becomes the responsibility of lab technicians. Clean labs are important for maintaining the reliability of the test, the reputation of the lead investigator, and the impressions of any outside funding resources. This job is especially important when experiments involve hazardous materials such as the use of radioactive isotopes or viruses and bacteria.
Justin King is a writer and scholar of environmental and public rhetoric. He holds a Master of Arts in writing studies from Saint Joseph's University and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. King has been contributing to online publications and print journals since 2004, as well as delivering talks on science writing and environmental theory throughout the United States.