Engineering – what’s it all about?
On the face of it, engineering as a profession doesn’t sound terribly exciting. If you were to ask the primary school children of today what they want to be when they grow up, an engineer would rank well down the list after doctor, vet, fireman, footballer, ballerina etc.
But why is this? Plainly put, it’s because not enough people understand what an engineer actually does and they rarely make the headlines that young, impressionable eyes read.
This is even more peculiar when you come to realise that engineering is all around us – from what you had for your breakfast, how you got to work/school/college, right down to the piece of technology you’re reading these words from.
Engineering has had a hand in all aspects of modern day life. Cars, houses, mobile phones, the Internet, food, clothes, TV are all products of engineering, for instance. Pretty amazing, huh? It’s basically seeking ways to enhance and develop our world through a clever combination of maths and science, the sum of which is ultimately put into practice.
It’s used to solve problems and come up with ideas to improve the way we operate.
What does an engineer do?
Engineers generally work in teams – or manage a team, depending on their level of seniority – to define problems and map out possible, realistic solutions.
They consider time, costs and design throughout an engineering project so that it is completed on schedule, within budget and that what they devise ultimately does what it is intended to do. There are many different types of engineer, each with different skills sets.
Structural engineers, for example, assist with the construction process, mechanical engineers take care of processes and how things operate, an electrical engineer works with, well, anything electrical, a chemical engineer is often lab-based and focuses on raw materials and an environmental engineer considers sustainability and the effects on the environment.
It’s possible that all these types of engineer will work together on the same project, depending on its scale, however some may spend their time on-site, guiding the workmen as they make the vision a reality, while others will be desk-based, researching and writing technical reports that will aid efficiency.
But is engineering the profession for you?
It’s a common misconception that engineering is dull – it really isn’t.
Sure, there are elements that can be repetitive and laborious but that can be said of any job. Engineering can be very satisfying, particularly is there is normally an end product that people will enjoy or find useful for many years to come. As an engineer you can etch your name in history and leave a legacy that says ‘I helped build that’.
In 2002 the BBC ran a poll to find the ‘Greatest Briton’; Winston Churchill came top but he was closely followed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was, you guessed it, an engineer. Also on the list were the likes of John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell, also successful engineers whose works still live on today.
Leave a lasting impression, make your mark – be an engineer.
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