Engineers are the all-encompassing link to most of the world’s observable built environment. They are the backbone of functioning systems all across the globe. They keep the lights on, the water flowing, the robots in sync, the planes in the sky, and much more. So, should you pursue a career in engineering?
Working engineers today will tell you that it is a rewarding career with problem-solving at its core. However, people should get into the engineering industry because they want to further humanity’s progress. Engineering's purpose has long existed to invent new ways of doing things and to continuously increase efficiency. The many technological contributions of engineers throughout human history have transformed the world in which we live.
John Browne was the chairman of L Energy and chief executive officer of BP from 1995 to 2007. That period was known as the ‘golden period of expansion and diversification’ for BP. He received praise for directing the oil company’s attention to alternative renewable sources of energy. He was also the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering from 2006 to 2011.
He is a keen author who makes sense of the engineering world for prospective engineers, encouraging them to make the world a better place through their work. He has just released a new book titled: ‘Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilization.’ He reckons that humans’ interaction with everyday technology is awakening the engineer hidden inside them. A section of his book reads:
“There is an engineer in every one of us, but we, fortunately, do not require the skills or expertise of a professional engineer to tap into this aspect of our nature — contemporary technologies, such as the Internet and smartphones, give all of us access to an engineering mindset. Now, more than ever, we can use these technologies to solve the world’s problems and shape the society in which we live.”
Engineering is a profession that has traditionally attracted those with an affinity for maths and science. However, the tide is slowly turning to involve more humanities-inspired approaches to engineering.
Bringing new technologies into the world
Engineering has recently been defined as solutions-based problem-solving to replace and automate some of the more repetitive tasks humans engage in. For instance, autonomous vehicles are something many an engineering company wishes it could perfect — that is their idea of progress. However, getting to a finished product has not been easy for engineers.
“Progress is not delivered with an instruction manual spelling out the safe and responsible use of new inventions,” Browne writes.
“Engineering is instead like a game of cat and mouse, in which innovators must continuously act to ensure that the intended consequences of their efforts outweigh the unintended ones.
“Engineered solutions will never be perfect first time because mistakes and misuse are inevitable, and every step forward has risks. Autonomous vehicles will create a revolution inconvenience but, unless properly designed and tested, could kill more people than human drivers currently do.”
Technological progress, while a noble engineering intention, must be first be tested out in a controlled environment so that we can know whether it is feasible. And once its viability can be proven, it needs to be marketed to society and governments at large to show its something the world needs.
Therefore, engineers have to become entrepreneurial. Engineering programs have typically ignored the business side of engineering, but now engineers are seeing that they need to become salespeople of their own innovations to convince the world they need the solution.
“Engineering naturally led me into business, since I realized that no solution was complete unless it resulted in something practical that humanity wanted,” writes Browne.
“Thomas Edison apparently said that ‘anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success. Engineering is like a head with two sets of eyes: one looks to the fruits of discovery, the other looks to the demands of commerce and customers.”
Being an engineer in the modern world is a balancing act that involves becoming a multifaceted and as skilled as possible. With technology rapidly advancing and automation creeping into industry, an engineer who was eligibe to thrive in the previous industrial revolutions, may not be prepared for the fourth industrial revolution. Hence, engineers must prepare themselves for the new civilization that is already being transformed by the digital revolution and the call to make the world a more environmentally friendly place.
Specialized Engineering Education
The Engineering Institute of Technology delivers engineering programs that are designed by an international body of industry experts, ensuring our students graduate with cutting-edge skills that are valued by employers around the world. Our vocational programs and higher education degrees are accredited by the Australian Government, and we have programs that are recognized under three international engineering accords. Together with our sister organization IDC Technologies, we have trained over 500,000 engineers, technicians, and technologists globally over the last 30 years.
We deliver programs for a range of different levels, from professional development to diplomas and degrees. They are offered across a variety of fields such as industrial automation, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil and structural engineering, industrial data communications, electronic engineering, and engineering management.
We deliver our online and on-campus programs via a unique methodology that makes use of live and interactive webinars, an international pool of expert lecturers, dedicated learning support officers, and state-of-the-art technologies such as hands-on workshops, remote laboratories, and simulation software. Whether you are studying online or on-campus in Australia, our supportive blended learning model and small class sizes allow you to advance your technical knowledge and remain engaged in your studies while forming global networks and balancing life and work commitments.
Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-16/engineers-are-the-reason-many-of-us-are-alive
Browne, John. “Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilization.” Amazon, Pegasus Books, 2019, www.amazon.com/Make-Think-Imagine-Engineering-Civilization/dp/1643132121.
“Careers in Engineering - A Beginner's Guide.” The Engineer, 18 Sept. 2019, www.theengineer.co.uk/careers-engineering-first-steps/