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What I wished I knew about engineering... before I got started

Engineering is not a single field. Engineering can be characterized as a group of applied sciences focusing on practical applications of physical sciences. It has its roots in physics and mathematics and it’s a great combination of both theoretical and applied science.

Mechanical, chemical, civil, computer engineering are just a few of the fields of engineering that are widely known. As a mechanical engineer I had the opportunity to learn and work with the latest technologies such as 3D printing and lasers. But going back in time I wished I knew a couple of things about engineering much earlier.

I will start with the very last thing that I have learned; that you can become an engineer even if your first degree is not in engineering!!! Undergraduate and postgraduate students with degrees in physics, mathematics, chemistry, material and/or computer science are all perfect candidates to continue their studies and/or get training in engineering-related positions. Engineering principles are all closely related to the physical laws, and mathematics are just the tool to express these concepts. So, yes it is possible and achievable to pivot and become an engineer.

And what exactly does an engineer do? There used to be the prejudice that engineering mainly involves industrial equipment. This belief is nowadays crushed as a variety of engineering fields are now better known by the public. To the above-mentioned question there is no single and straightforward answer. Depending on the field of engineering, an engineer may be involved with a range of different tools from industrial manufacturing equipment to developing software programs. The daily tasks of a computer engineer are completely different compared to those of a mechanical or a chemical engineer.

How do I choose?

In order to have an idea which engineering field is the best for you, try to visualise yourself in the environment you would like to work in. What type of applications do you find most interesting? What type of tools/machines you would like to work with? If for example, you enjoy working with computers and programming languages then a computer engineering position may be fitting your expectations. If you are a student enrolled in an engineering program, it’s always a good idea to talk with your professors and previous graduates from your department and ask for their advice and experience in engineering.

Being part of the engineering community is something really wonderful. It is always exciting to see that your work has applications and impact on our society. Though we don’t become engineers in one day - we have to study, practice, push ourselves to keep learning new technologies and skills. Nothing and no one is stopping us from being pioneers in the engineering fields. We are our own limit and we are our own power!

With thanks - this article was written by Stella Manoli.

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