If you want experience analyzing a large, interconnected system, how about this??
(From NEW Atlas)There were MANY application-specific problems that had to be solved - orbital mechanics, propulsion, life support, communications.... It took MANY engineers and scientists, over a period of twenty years or more, to make it happen, starting with basic flight/aerodynamics, guidance, communication, Atmospheric re-entry and landing - heating, cooling, life support . The development of the on-board computer for guidance and docking procedures led to the development of the microcomputer that is at the heart of every device we make and use today. These people did not have all of the specifications for the material properties; they had to do laboratory work to get an answer - or at least a best estimate. Yes, there was much activity to build analytical ( and physical ) to do simulations and models of systems or parts of systems to look at alternative ways of doing things. I remember seeing some of these problem statements in some of my engineering tests. Or we did lab exercises that looked at some element of the system, say, a power supply (using vacuum tubes in that day).
If you want to be a good/useful engineer, you have to know how the system you are looking at as it relates to the other systems around it. If you are the expert on connecting rods (stress analysis/FEM, materials....), you still need to understand bearings, lubrication, crankshafts, pistons, combustion, fuel injection.....all the way to the wheels that touch the road surface (assuming you are in the internal combustion engine business. I would liken the design and development of a machine/system to an orchestra - The French horn player does not necessarily know what the cellist is doing, but he hears it and relates to it. The Conductor is the Chief Engineer who brings all of the experts together to ensure that the "parts" fit together the way the composer intended. Whether you make beautiful music together depends on the collective expertise and execution of all of the members of the orchestra. Likewise for the design/development and manufacturing teams.