What is engineering?
Engineering is the practical and creative application of science and maths. Engineers use the knowledge they have in a specific field to make things work, to improve things and to solve problems.
Chartered Engineers have gained the necessary qualifications and experiences to become professionally registered and are able to use the letters CEng after their name. Other recognised professional statuses are Incorporate Engineer (IEng) and Engineering and ICT Technician (EngTech and ICT Tech).
Engineering is vital to our everyday lives – from essentials like running water, transport and power generation through to mobile phones, broadcasting and broadband internet. It’s also crucial to the UK economy, contributing £1.06 trillion in turnover, or 24% of the turnover for all businesses in the UK.
Change the World
- Make a difference, by changing how people experience the world
- Leave your mark, by finding new ways for people to interact with each other and the environment
Earn a Great Salary
- Starting salaries range from £20-32,000 depending on the role
- Engineers and physical scientists earn over £230,000 more over their working lifetime compared to a non-graduate
- On average an engineer has a graduate premium 8 times higher than an arts graduate
Work in exciting environments
- Learn transferable skills that can be used around the world
- Experience working in a wide range of environments, one day might be spent in a laboratory and the next in a skyscraper
- Work within a great variety of different industries fashion to construction, there is no limit
Further reading: www.talent2030.org/blog/2853/engineering-is-global/
- Help find solutions to some of today’s most pressing problems
- Be part of teams working on providing new alternative energy sources or developing environmentally-friendly food production.
- Seize the challenge, and take up a career that is demanding but also extremely creative and exciting
Source: Talent 2030 website
What opportunities are available?
Engineers can be involved in building, testing and designing; they might work on large things like air craft, small products like smart phones, buildings or infrastructure; energy sources such as wind power or nuclear power; computing systems or software; transport; food; music; clothing…there’s not a lot that doesn’t involve engineering!
- Real-life examples of people in engineering and manufacturing: www.talent2030.org/heroes/
- See Prospects’ list of engineering jobs: www.prospects.ac.uk/types_of_jobs_engineering.htm
Some different types of engineering
Chemical and Biochemical:
Chemical engineers, known also as process engineers or biochemical engineers, are involved in designing processes to transform raw materials into a wide range of products. Oil, for example, can be used to make fuels, plastics, textiles and cosmetics. A chemical engineer aims to design production methods that are safe, cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Almost everything that is manufactured by humans involves the input of a chemical engineer at some stage. They work in sectors such as chemical and allied products, pharmaceuticals, energy, water, food and drink, materials, oil and gas, process plants, and equipment and biotechnology.
Biochemical engineers are chemical engineers who specialise in designing processes involving biological changes. They work in fields such as pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and the treatment of waste.
Some chemical and biochemical engineers are involved in research that aims to improve the future of the planet and its inhabitants. Projects include:
- tissue engineering (producing replacement human organs) and stem cell research
- transforming the way we produce energy without harming the planet e.g. researching renewable energy such as wind and wave energy
- making the world’s water cleaner and reducing water shortages.
Civil engineering is essentially about the design, building and maintenance of the environment in which we live. It provides and looks after the necessary buildings, transport systems and water supplies needed to survive in today’s society, and for years to come. Civil engineers are involved in seeing an engineering project from conception, design stage, construction through to completion and are then involved in its maintenance. Civil engineers may either be consulting engineers who advise on projects and design them, or site engineers/contractors who turn those designs into reality and maintain them once they are built.
These projects might include the development, construction and maintenance of:
- bridges, tunnels, roads, railways and airports
- dams, pipelines, water supply and sewerage systems
- major building projects such as docks and power supply systems
- sea and river defences.
Civil engineering often includes project management and, once the plans for a project have been approved and construction starts, civil engineers are in charge until the project is completed. Projects are usually undertaken by a team made up of many different types of professionals – architects, transport planners and a wide range of engineers from different disciplines.
Biomedical engineers are employed by large healthcare organisations, research and development facilities, medical equipment manufacturers and rehabilitation centres. Biomedical engineers are involved in the design, testing and development of a variety of medical devices, such as prosthetic limbs, artificial valves, joint replacements and other clinical equipment. The main objective of this line of work is to utilise your knowledge of engineering and material sciences for use in the medical field.
As an engineer working in this field your work would involve:
- testing equipment, such as walking aids, wheelchairs and speech synthesizers (known as assistive technologies)
- developing artificial limbs that attach to the patient’s own tissue, giving them greater control
- making artificial joints, heart valves and hearing implants from new materials to lessen the chance of rejection by the patient’s body
- designing equipment that allows doctors to try new medical techniques, for example, optical instruments for keyhole surgery
- day-to-day management of medical equipment, such as scanners, imaging machines and monitoring systems
- carrying out quality assurance checks to ensure all equipment is working correctly and safely.
Mechanical engineering is concerned with the design, development, installation, operation and maintenance of a wide range of products that contain movable parts. Mechanical engineers may be involved in:
- design – producing or revising plans to create new products
- research and development – investigating ways of solving engineering problems, using new technologies as and when they become available
- production – planning and implementing a range of production processes.
As a mechanical engineer, you could utilise your expert technical skills across a wide range of industries, focusing on anything from aeronautical, transport, construction and defense engineering to manufacturing, medical, energy and telecommunications engineering. Engineering projects, such as the Millenium Bridge on the Tyne, Crossrail and the vast stadiums being constructed for the Olympics, involve engineers of all disciplines. Mechanical engineers need to be able to work alongside electrical, civil and construction engineers as well as those in the nuclear and medical fields.
Electronics is the use of low-power electricity, electronic circuits and systems to control, communicate and process information. Components such as capacitors, diodes, resistors, semiconductors and transistors are used to control equipment such as:
- telecommunications equipment
- radios and televisions
- computer applications
- hospital diagnostic equipment
- control systems used in everything from satellite tracking to domestic appliances such as washing machines.
Electronics engineers may work on the development, installation and maintenance of equipment for:
- the transport industry – radio systems for cars, ships and other vehicles
- the aerospace industry – automatic pilots, radar, traffic control and blind landing systems
- heavy industry – robots for motor vehicle manufacture
- light industry – efficiency and quality control on production lines
- hospitals – patient monitoring systems and anaesthesia and blood pressure equipment
- commerce – computers, radio and television and video games.
Robotics engineering is a breeding ground for creativity and innovation from people with a background in mechanical, electrical, or software engineering. Robotics engineers may work in the agricultural, military, medical, and manufacturing industries, among others, conceiving of new uses for robots, designing improved robots for existing systems, or repairing and maintaining industrial robots.
Software engineers are responsible for the design and implementation of a variety of software solutions. They might be involved in the design and testing of anything from computer games and business applications, to computer operating systems and machinery.
After initial briefing from a client, a software developer will work closely with analysts, designers and commercial staff to discuss the problems and requirements. These will then be translated into detailed technical specifications for presentation to the client. Once agreement has been reached the developer will:
- either write the new programming code from scratch or adapt existing software to meet the requirements
- develop user interfaces
- carry out any necessary tests to the system to check for bugs in the software
- ensure that staff and operators are familiar with the new or revised system
- make sure that the work is fully documented
- write operational documentation with technical authors
Further reading: www.talent2030.org/blog/2719/software-development/