Entrepreneurship and Creativity in Engineering

Are you just going to be a cog in the machine or are you going to blaze a trail in your engineering career? Being a trailblazer, a pioneer, an engineering entrepreneur or even an outside the box thinker is not easy task. Even if you are not aiming to be the next Elon Musk, finding promotion within engineering industries is not always an easy task. The years of staying in the same company for over 30 years are over. That is why, as an engineer, it is good practice to acquire more skills on top of the engineering skills you already have. Luckily, those who have already reached the heights you’re aiming for, are looking back and giving some advice. As a result, the world is seeing a new kind of engineer that is less hard-hat and more business savvy. If anything, choosing engineering as your focus of study is the first step in a lucrative, fruitful career.

Engineers enjoy some of the highest starting salaries of any profession in the world. The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted research in 2015 that revealed that six out of ten college majors with the highest starting salaries were in engineering. Engineering has been called the “recession-proof” occupation.

  • Computer engineering: $70,400*
  • Chemical engineering: $66,400*
  • Aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical: $64,000*
  • Mechanical engineering: $62,900*
  • Electrical engineering and communications engineering: $62,300*
  • Civil engineering: $57,600*

 * Per year
From EngineeringSalary.com.

However, as the world changes, so do engineering professions. Now, there are many more engineering professions that you could find yourself thriving in. One of the fastest growing engineering professions of the last year, according to the United States Department of Labor Statistics, is the position of a wind turbine engineering technician. In another study, out of the top 10 fastest growing occupations in the world from 2008-2015, engineering professions were listed four times.

●    Network systems and data communication analysts - the fastest growing occupation in the U.S.
●    Computer software engineers (applications) - the fourth fastest growing occupation
●    Computer software engineers (embedded & systems software) - the fifth fastest growing
●    Database administrators - the eighth fastest growing

Which industries should you consider studying towards? We look to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics again to show that from 2008-2015, the list of growing industries experiencing a boom in engineering jobs were software publishers, computer systems design and internet services, data processing, and related information services. However, engineers should follow the kind of engineering they are passionate about, whilst broadening their skills to remain relevant in the job market.

The evolving world of business and engineering opens up new possibilities in business for engineers. Some experts warn that certain engineering types might not be ready for the onslaught of business deals and negotiations that they could be facing in a fast-paced, business world. There is now a global encouragement for engineers to further pursue studies in entrepreneurship. So much so, that, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have launched an engineering entrepreneurship course called: Entrepreneurial Negotiations: The MIT Way.

The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay, has encouraged engineers to further explore entrepreneurial skills that can be integrated into their careers, as well. He underlines the key factors engineers must adhere to be successful in entrepreneurial endeavors:

  • Try and identify a gap in the market. It is very hard to do that. Look for something where there is a real need, not something you think is required but what the market needs
  • Pick an activity that is aligned with you. Something you are good at doing. Make sure you are passionate about what you’re doing. If you are not passionate it won’t be sustainable.
  • You have to be persistent. Keep driving yourself. Most people will laugh and say, “this is a joke,” but when you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they were the ones who pushed themselves across to disbelieving client and gained success.
  • Unfortunately, you have to fail. We fail nine out of ten times. Ten out of ten times in the endeavors we undertake. Failure is a key part of being a successful entrepreneur. So, keep persisting.

Not only are entrepreneurship skills becoming valuable to engineers, so are art and design. The buzzword the world is talking about is STEM. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. However, universities like Virginia Tech want to change STEM into STEAM, by adding arts and design skills to the engineering curriculum. They have been given $2 million by the National Science Foundation to draft a new curriculum that “blends” the institution’s Liberal Arts, Human Sciences and Engineering colleges into one curriculum. Their Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology will also contribute in implementing another level of skills that engineers could benefit from. According to the university, the curriculum will “broaden the diversity” of students entering into engineering courses, opening new pathways to students who would benefit from choosing a career in engineering industries.

Becoming an effective, entrepreneurial and creative engineer is no longer a pipe dream for the new wave of engineering students in the world. With the help of online education, engineers are able to now broaden their skill sets whilst working in the industry, and doubling the longevity of their engineering careers. For engineering students just starting out, engineering curriculums are being updated to integrate more skills that might be needed, so that engineers can thrive in the world of business. It is the little things that could make a big difference in your engineering career.


Szumski, B. Careers in engineering. 2014.