What is an Engineer?
An engineer uses science, technology and math to solve problems. We can see engineering everywhere in the world around us, improving the ways we work, travel, communicate, stay healthy, and entertain.
Today, the field of engineering offers more career choices than any other discipline! In the past, there were four major engineering branches: mechanical, chemical, civil and electrical. Today, the number of available engineering degrees are vast. There are now six major branches of engineering: mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, management, and geotechnical, and under each branch there are hundreds of different subcategories.
What does an Engineer do?
Engineers design machinery, build skyscrapers, and oversee public works, but they address society’s needs and problems on so many other levels as well. At a molecular level, they work on drug delivery systems that work inside cells. At a macro level, they look at the particle flow of pollutants through soil to clean up oil spills, abandoned industrial sites and other biohazards. At a galactic level, they design spacecraft for other-planet exploration. At an atomic level, they develop data storage that focuses on the spin of electrons in atoms. Clean drinking water, safe food storage, and the protection of our environment are also under the engineering umbrella.
The following are various types of engineers. Click on each type to learn what they do.
– directs and coordinates the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products
– analyzes agricultural operations and looks at new technologies and ways of doing things to improve land use, increase yields, and conserve resources
– develops new chemical products that can be used by a multitude of companies and individuals
Biofuel Manufacturing Research Engineer
– selects, tests, and recommends equipment and process improvements for the production of alternative fuel
– analyzes and designs solutions to problems in biology and medicine
– conceptualizes and designs processes for producing, transforming and transporting materials
– designs and supervises large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment
Computer Hardware Engineer
– researches, designs, develops, and tests computer equipment such as chips, circuit boards, or routers
Computer Systems Engineer
– provides advice to clients regarding the appropriate hardware and/or software to ensure that their computer systems meet their needs
– designs and develops new electrical equipment, solves problems and tests equipment
– uses the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems
– is responsible for ensuring that all components of the plane are in proper working order
– is a specialization within civil engineering that involves investigating and understanding what is beneath the ground’s surface
– creates processes and equipment that convert thermal energy stored in the earth into electrical power
– finds ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes
– designs, develops, builds, and tests mechanical devices, including tools, engines and machines
– create machines that are made up of several parts: the mechanical system, the sensing and actuation, the control systems, and the software
Mining and Geological Engineer
– designs mines for the safe and efficient removal of minerals, such as coal and metals, for manufacturing and utilities
– investigates the microscopic interactions between various materials
– seeks to learn new things that can change the face of health, science, technology, and the environment on a molecular level
– researches and develops the processes, instruments, and systems used to get benefits from nuclear energy and radiation
– locates reservoirs of natural gas and crude oil beneath the earth’s surface
– creates and improves systems and products that use photonics—lasers, optics, fiber optics, and imaging
– is responsible for the operation, maintenance, renovation and repair of boiler systems and other mechanical systems in a facility
Product Safety Engineer
– is responsible for developing and carrying out tests and experiments to gauge the safety levels of products
– creates robots and robotic systems that are able to perform duties that humans are either unable or prefer not to complete
– sells complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses
– is someone who analyzes computer networks, ensures they are running securely, and tries to foresee possible security issues that could arise in the future
Ship Engineer or Marine Engineer
– is involved in coordinating the activity in virtually any technical department aboard a commercial, research and military ship
– is engaged in computer software development, and applies engineering principles to software creation
Software Quality Assurance Engineer
– monitors every phase of the software development process so as to ensure design quality
– takes care of sewage and wastewater and makes sure that clean water is available to citizens
Wind Energy Engineer
– harnesses the power of wind to feed a power grid or other electrical power system by designing wind farms, or their components
Engineering as a subject and as an occupation is a very satisfying branch of science. Look around you and you will find marvels of engineering everywhere. The smart devices you use today that are million times more powerful than the computing power NASA had when they sent the first man to the moon. Every aspect of your life is made easier by all these brilliant feats of engineering. But engineers are not done yet, there are many more wonders on the horizon like autonomous cars, 3D printing, a colony on Mars, CRISPR gene editing and millions more, just waiting to be engineered.
If you are an engineering student or a recent graduate holding a newly signed diploma, it is important for you to understand how to launch a successful career building the future tech. Here are our top 10 tips that will help you to make a successful engineering career in any field.
Pick meaningful problems
As an engineer, it is your responsibility to make the world a better place by solving challenges, pick the ones you are passionate about so that your inner spark never dies. If you yearn to fix something that’s broken, do it.
Work harder than hard
To quote the words of Thomas Edison, “Genius is two percent inspiration, ninety-eight percent perspiration.” You might have sweat in school trying to get that engineering diploma but the working world is a lot worse. For any technology to have mass adoption it is necessary that it be a simple and reliable solution to a complicated problem. Building complex or fragile products are just mediocre engineering and you can definitely do better.
Join an outstanding team
Teamwork is an integral component of most engineering marvels from Apple to Google, it is often seen that engineers reach their full potential when they are part of a team where their talents are best complimented and teammates challenge them. Your focus in a team is to achieve the end goal with your best efforts without worrying over who gets the credit.
Become the best storyteller
You will be surprised to know how many new products fail because of insufficient end-user attention even after having cool tech behind them. Building a better solution is necessary but not sufficient. Understand the end users’ pain and design products accordingly, but also work on making them aware of your solution.
If you plan to lead people or an industry someday, you are going to need undying optimism. Ask any engineer who has ever achieved a feat of marvel, he will tell you how much pessimism and doubts he had to face to make his way through. Remember that people are always wary of the unknown, a solution that does not exist will face opposition from all directions. But if you have cultivated optimism in your very soul, nothing will stop you.
Optimism is necessary but it will be futile without a grasp on reality. When working on an idea it is easy to lose grip on reality but while you are focused on the long-term vision remain grounded in what has to be fixed right now.
Trust your instincts
If reality gives you hard times, close your eyes and trust your instincts. During your career as an engineer, you will come across situations when you will have to make a decision based on incomplete information. Such instances will require your intellect and ability to follow your guts.
Experts of the industry will continue to keep getting it wrong. Be aware of the fact that engineering changes industries rapidly. There was a time when Google had zero earnings from advertising revenue, when Facebook never existed, when Apple was about to die. The state of flux in the industry is because of the pace of innovation, this keeps the future uncertain. As an engineer, you have to identify opportunities in uncertainty.
You are participating in a marathon, not a sprint
As an engineer, you will be working with tech and there will be junctures in your life when you will get tired of all the engineering. To avoid this, you will have to learn to work sustainably. To avoid feeling burned out you will have to rejuvenate by making time for family, friends and things you love.
Engineering is not boring – if you are continuously struggling to enjoy yourself you need to make a change. You will be a much better engineer if you find pleasure in it, so don’t forgot to have fun when you work.
There never has been a better time for engineers to participate in improving the lives of people and benefit mankind. You are an engineer, and the world is yours to change.