The future is yours for the taking.
This good ole’ adage has driven many into PANIC MODE; there is undue stress for young people when it comes to picking a vocation.
A fresh batch of school-leavers have just begun their academic year and many will have chosen the discipline of engineering – they will be wondering which field of engineering will best suit them and provide them with good job prospects.
Engineering graduates should reassure these undergraduates with the following advice: find your way into engineering education and focus on establishing a ‘broad scope’ of skills necessary for working in interdisciplinary industries.
School-leavers and prospective engineers and technologists are facing a new reality: they may find jobs in engineering industries they were not expecting to get into. And many will change direction during their careers or become more proficient in a field of engineering that they did not study.
Some school students believe that the science and math they learn at school will define the engineering streams they select and the jobs they get. Whilst the cognitive benefits of grasping high school math and science are advantageous, the reality is that the science and math that graduates end up grappling with in their engineering careers may be wholly different.
One degree, plenty choices
Perhaps there are some engineering courses that have more variety and versatility than others. An alleged engineer on social media site Reddit, ‘abadonn’, thinks Mechanical Engineering provides a pathway into many different industries. He writes:
“Mechanical engineering. It’s probably the broadest of all career choices. We learn a bit of everything: MatSci, EE, Math, Structural, Thermal, Programming, etc. And if you want to specialize you can always go get a masters. I work for a large biomed company that probably hires more mechanical engineers than biomedical engineers.”
Some engineers are determined to ‘follow the money’. The biomedical engineering industry is becoming one of the most lucrative engineering industries due to wearables and automation making its way into the industry. These technological developments ensure that many different types of engineering disciplines plug into the biomedical industry. There does, however, need to be a certain amount of caution when selecting a way forward. In many countries a biomedical engineering graduate may only find maintenance work in his/her field, with few opportunities for design.
Engineer + travel = happiness
Engineering can come with travel benefits with – engineers (depending on what and where their credentials have been gained) are often deemed globally relevant to many job markets.
In Australia, at mining companies like Rio Tinto, many engineering professionals form part of a FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) program. Engineers are flown in to work for a stretch of time (accommodation is provided for them), the company then flies them home for a patch of time before they again return to site.
Some engineers opt to immigrate to other countries and take their expertise elsewhere. Some fortunate engineers even take their expertise to Antarctica.
South Africa, for example, has a little known South African National Antarctic Programme. The program is run in conjunction with the South African National Space Agency. Yearly, South African engineers and science professionals descend on Antarctica to assist with Space Weather Research. We talk to an electrical engineer who overwintered at the SANAE IV base in Antarctica:
Engineers with a ‘can do’ attitude, who also want travel benefits, could find themselves in the pound seats. And in many instances, accomplishing life-changing work.
“What Engineering Discipline Did You Specialising in/Are Studying and Why? • r/Engineering.” Reddit, www.reddit.com/r/engineering/comments/wp437/what_engineering_discipline_did_you_specialising/.