Perhaps the simplest reason why anyone should consider a career in engineering is explained by understanding what it is that engineers do – simply put they ‘solve problems and make things’. We take the technology that surrounds us for granted and students rarely imagine themselves creating the things that move the world forward. Could you design a mobile phone/tablet or an F1 racing car or a satellite or medical scanner? Perhaps you could see yourself building an Olympic stadium or the next generation internet or high speed railway? Or more modestly, a wind turbine; a water treatment plant; patient monitor, or computer game?
The courses that open up these possibilities are engineering and computing courses. No one emerges from university able to solve every problem then they join a team and become part of an organisation that increasingly has customers and suppliers all over the world so expect to work with all nationalities and travel. These degree give you such varied choices that you don’t need to decide before you start where you want to be in future and what to create.The courses keep all doors open. So even if you become an accountant; lawyer; teacher or entrepreneur later then an engineering or computing degree will have provided many of the skills that will make you great at it.
Every type of company wants people to use their professional skills and knowledge to analyse things mathematically; economically; for quality; meeting a customers’ needs and to be environmentally aware. Even better then if they have great ideas, use the latest technology and then design and make the product or service on time; on budget and to the required specification as engineers do.
So there is a lot to learn. The courses don’t just attract socially inept types who want to tinker with gadgets nor maths and science boffins who will remain in academia but absolutely all types who care about making a difference.There are many challenges in the world: in energy; environment; transport; health; communication etc. Engineers need to be resilient –there will be failures but most are hugely optimistic and have great fun working with their colleagues and keeping upto date with new ideas. It is one of the most respected professions in most developing countries and salaries are improving.
An engineering degree provides far more than many students appreciate. That’s why they have busy timetable of lectures; labs; tutorials and projects to teach fundamentals and then develop practical experience. If tuition fees are an issue then be assured that in engineering you get value for money. Many different types of employer, all over the world, will want to recruit you when you finish. You will know how to respond to emerging technology and even to new industry sectors. Departments have guest lecturers from industry and lots of practical student activities such as competitions against teams from universities around the world.
Frustratingly, around the world and particularly in the UK, there are few female engineers. The number of women working in engineering roles in industry is tiny. The number of young women on courses shows far less progression than women have made in other professions. Most companies recognise that diversity is important and yet far do little to attract women onto courses and then recruit; retain and advance them in technical roles in companies. It is hard to name a female engineer –think of how many women engineers you know who have a family and yet you would not be surprised to meet a female doctor or lawyer.
One scheme that draws attention to this huge gap in providing fresh thinking into male dominated industry is the Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering and Technology. This is a free, annual global ‘virtual conversation’ that connects women of all disciplines; all career stages and all nationalities. They can talk about the courses they are on; the work they do; the issues they face; the support they offer or whatever interests them. They take questions and answer them and the whole thing is recoded and saved to be used by groups of women everywhere. Anyone can join in and hear how women in South America working for DuPont work compared with those with IBM in China or a global company here in the UK.
Whatever the next big thing is in global business you can be sure that engineers will be driving it forward, designing things we barely notice because they just work.
With thanks to Teresa Schofield CEng MIET MIEEE
To offer you a greater insight into careers in the engineering industry, we suggest having a look at Career Player’s video below. CareerPlayer.com is a multi-award winning website designed to make choosing and breaking into graduate jobs easier.