Professional Engineering as a Career
Mathematics is the language of the Engineer, so a strong leaning towards this subject is essential. A flair for physics and chemistry is also essential. Communications skills are desirable, so languages are important. You need to be a problem-solver and you need to be inquisitive and imaginative. The normal route to becoming a Professional Engineer is through an accredited university engineering degree course which takes from 4 to 5 years. Entry requirements vary, so you need to approach the College of your choice for details. The course is difficult, so you should be prepared to work hard.
The following are the main engineering disciplines ;
Biomedical Engineers apply their mathematical and scientific skills to solving problems in medicine and biology. They investigate genetic engineering, tumour biology, cellular processes, and they work closely with scientists, biologists, and with engineers of other disciplines in research, design, and in the development of medical products. They are also involved in the production and application of these products.
Very many significant advances in medicine over recent years can be attributed to biomedical engineers. They design body scanning machines such as PET (positron emission tomography), CT (Computer tomography), and MRI (magnetic resonance tomography) scanners. They also design such equipment as dialysis machines, heart machines, heart pacemakers, prosthetic devices, X-Ray and Ultrasonic equipment, artificial body replacements, hospital monitoring equipment, and other types of life-saving equipment.
Electrical / Electronic Engineering
There is a certain amount of overlap between the work of the Electrical Engineer and that of the Electronics Engineer. In general, the Electrical Engineer specialises in heavy current applications and the Electronic Engineer in light current applications. They design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment , components, and systems.
Electrical Engineers explore electrical phenomena. They design and develop power distribution systems, industrial equipment, motors, generators, transformers, robots, electrical household appliances, and other types of electrical equipment and systems.
The main employers of Electrical Engineers are utilities and electrical manufacturing companies.
Electronic Engineers design computers, mobile phones, digital radio and television systems, satellite communication systems, fibre optic systems, radar and navigation systems, lasers, robots, telephone systems, music and video equipment, electronic components such as microchips, transistors, and other electronic devices and systems.
The main employers of Electronic Engineers are companies such as Intel, Dell, Telecom, Motorola, and other electronic manufacturing companies.
Civil / Structural Engineering
Civil Engineers design and supervise the construction and maintenance of buildings, motorways, tunnels, bridges, airports, railways, water treatment plants, irrigation systems etc. Other areas of involvement include project management, traffic analysis, environmental engineering and transportation.
Many Civil Engineers hold management positions while others work in research or consultancy. Typical employers of Civil Engineers are, the Army Engineers Corps, County Councils, Construction Companies, Consultancy.
Structural Engineers tend to specialise in the design of complex engineering structures of all types etc.
Mechanical / Production Engineering
Mechanical Engineers design anything that has moving parts such as robots, rockets, automobiles, aero planes, power generating plants, refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment and systems, automated and computer-controlled machines for industry etc. They also take part in research, development, manufacture, operation of plant and machinery and other mechanical devices.
Mechanical Engineers work on such projects as solar heating systems, oil pipelines, factory assembly lines, designing prosthetic devices etc.
Typical employers of Mechanical Engineers are, power companies, companies such as Boeing, ASEA Brown Boveri, Mobil.
Production Engineers use their technical design skills in industry to optimise plant and processes with a view to improving the quality and reducing the cost of products.
Typical employers of Production Engineers are manufacturing companies.
Chemical Engineers apply the principles of chemistry and mathematics to solving problems involving the production or use of chemicals.
They design equipment and processes that involve chemistry such as in food processing, fuel refining, paper industry and other complex chemical systems.
Chemical Engineers find employment in industries that produce drugs, plastics, paints, synthetic fuels, and also in consultancy.
Most complex projects involve multi-disciplinary engineering.
There are also specialisations within the main disciplines ;
Nuclear Engineers carry out research, design, and develop processes associated with nuclear energy. They operate and manage nuclear plants and some specialise in such areas as power sources for spacecraft. Others specialise in the design of equipment suitable for diagnosing medical problems.
Materials Engineers work with polymers, glasses, ceramics and metals to develop new materials to meet certain engineering requirements. They also experiment with existing materials for new applications. Some of the applications might be heat shields for space vehicles or medical prosthetic devices.
Metallurgical / Ceramic Engineering
Materials Engineers specialising in metals are called Metallurgical Engineers, and those specialising in ceramics are called Ceramic Engineers.
Aeronautical / Aerospace Engineering
Aeronautical / Aerospace Engineers: An aeronautical engineer applies scientific and technological principles to research, design, maintain, test and develop the performance of civil and military aircraft, missiles, weapons systems, satellites and space vehicles.
Marine Engineers explore the oceans for oil and gas and they design ships and other sea-going crafts.
Computer Engineers design computer hardware and software, and they design and develop computers for engineering and scientific use.
Agricultural Engineers design and develop engineering technology and apply it to solve problems in agriculture.
Fire / Safety Engineering
Fire and Safety Engineers ensure that the different legal regulations concerning Fire and Safety are implemented, where necessary. They also design safety-related systems and equipment.
Industrial Engineers study and evaluate the most efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials and energy to produce a product.
Software Engineers provide a systematic approach to the analysis, design, implementation and maintenance of software. It often involves the use of CASE tools. There are various models of the software life-cycle, and many methodologies for the different phases.
Acoustic/Sound/Audio Engineers: The Acoustic/Sound/Audio Engineer works within a team with the responsibility for the Acoustic Design of products. As a typical Acoustic Engineer you may be, for example, working with the Mechanical team to design the Acoustic integration of transducers in addition to verifying the Acoustic performance. Key responsibilities will involve working on developing complete noise-canceling solutions for mobile handset, headphone and earphone applications, including acoustic components and electronic circuits. This will include experimental design work on mobile handsets/headphones/earphones to achieve required noise cancellation performance levels, designing of plastic parts using 3D CAD design tools to create design for prototype, Acoustic measurements, design of small signal audio analogue circuits using op-amps and Schematic Capture. A REAL Acoustic/Sound/Audio Engineer is educated to degree level.
Mining Engineers explore the earth for minerals, coal and metals such as gold and silver. They also design and supervise the construction of mine shafts and tunnels.
It can be seen from the above that Engineers impact on every aspect of life.