Skills for engineering

Engineering appeals to people who like to see tangible results. They enjoy the marriage of intellectual challenge and hands-on environment. They enjoy seeing the results of their work.
I was recently involved in supplying key staff for one of Europe's largest theme parks and the requirements included civil, structural, mechanical, sound, building services, design and audio animatronics engineers. The engineers found it very motivational to be playing a key role in such a high profile, prestigious project.

Testing, analysing, calculating, experimenting – these are core skills for engineers. A high level of numeracy is vital. Most engineers are Analysts in terms of personality type and whether you prefer lab work, conducting research or being out and about as a project manager will depend on your mix of analytical and people skills and which is your dominant personality type, for example the Analyst is best with the technology whereas the Supporter is best at people skills.

Engineering is a rewarding career with momentum and variety where you will be constantly experiencing new developments as they occur. You may be wearing your hard hat, reviewing the progress of a large stadium of which you are the project director or you may be in a research lab defining the next stage of development for contactless mobile payments.

Its workplace

Software, mechanical, sound, civil, electrical, auto, building services, aerospace, aviation and petrochemical are samples of the specialisms where engineering skills are vital. Within each sector there are many subdivisions. For example, if you are a civil engineer you may specialise in infrastructure such as roads and bridges and if it is buildings, it may be domestic such as houses, public such as schools and libraries and commercial such as offices, factories and warehousing. Mining will come under the remit of civil engineering and this may be deep pit or underground. Tunnelling engineers will build roads or sewage infrastructures and they will be soft or hard rock specialists. Railway or road tunnels in the London area require the expertise of soft rock engineers as the area comprises mostly of chalk, whilst road tunnelling through alpine regions requires a hard rock specialist.

The usual route to qualification is to obtain a degree and then obtain chartered status through work experience. Each specialism will have different criteria. A chartered civil engineer may obtain a structural endorsement – they are the people who ensure that a particular high-rise office block such as the Shard in London will not fall down. Engineering skills also apply to forestry and agriculture and shipping, genetics, nuclear, food, textiles, environment, chemicals, design, process, materials, IT and telecommunications.

If it is a product to be manufactured or fabricated or a structure to be built or a software package to be developed, then engineers will be involved in all the stages from the design, the build and, depending on the structure and product, the operations, repair and maintenance. The train, the railway, the car, the road, the aeroplane, the airport, the house, the heating, the office, the air-conditioning and everyday events will have involved the expertise of various engineering disciplines working collaboratively or independently.

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