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What is Engineering?

Engineering uses mathematical and scientific principles to solve problems and design and build machines, structures, and engines. Engineering is a broad discipline with its history in the origins of human civilization. While the forefathers of engineering designed towering structures like the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, and the Parthenon, modern engineers are responsible for everything from the International Space Station to the smallest of computer chips. Engineers are involved in every step of creating these structures, from designing and testing to installing and inspecting. 

Types of Engineering

Engineering is a broad discipline which is often broken down into several sub-disciplines. Some examples of these specialty areas are, but are not limited to:

  • Mechanical engineering is the design, manufacturing, inspection and maintenance of machine equipment and related components. Mechanical engineers develop systems such as pumps, fans, turbines, and power plants.
  • Chemical engineering is the production and manufacture of products through chemical processes. Chemical engineers design the equipment, systems, and processes for refining raw materials to produce products like pharmaceuticals, food, fertiliser, cosmetics, plastics and petrol.
  • Electrical engineering is the study, design and application of systems that use electricity. Electrical engineers might work with renewable resources, in a traditional power station, with railway electricity, or in heating and powering buildings.
  • Computer engineering is a mix of electrical engineering and computer science. Computer engineers combine their knowledge of hardware and software design and computer programming to develop new computer hardware, design and implement software applications, and enhance the capabilities of networks and communications systems.
  • Civil engineering is the design, construction, and maintenance of the man-made parts of our environment such as buildings, bridges, roads, railways, dams, tunnels and airports.

Engineers are often trained in one specific discipline, but through their career may be exposed to other branches of engineering and thus become multi-disciplined. To remain up-to-date in the field, almost all engineers are required to complete industry-specific training throughout their careers. 

Engineering Courses and Training

Training in engineering is as diverse as the industry itself. Engineering courses are available in a wide range of topics, whether it be the theoretical understanding of techniques and methods or the engineering in practical application. Within its various fields, engineering courses are available on the subjects of advanced maths, engineering software, the construction of buildings and structures, the development of technology and machinery and much more. 

In the engineering field continuous learning is common and encouraged. For some, this could mean keeping up with the latest technologies, methods and theories and learning how to apply them to their current roles. For others, formal engineering training can lead to opportunities in other areas of the field.

Which engineering course is right for me?

As a diverse discipline with many options for specialization, it can be difficult to choose an engineering track. While all engineers possess maths and science skills, a great engineer is also a curious problem-solver who enjoys a challenge. If you're just starting on your engineering career, choose an engineering track that you feel passionate about innovating and creating change within. 

If you're already an engineering professional who specializes in a track, consider which courses could help you grow within your chosen field. Courses in related topics like ethics or professionalism in engineering are useful in any specialisation. There are also courses for other specialties, like chemical engineering for non-specialists. 

Frequently asked questions

  • To get into engineering, you typically need to have a strong foundation in maths and science, pursue relevant qualifications or degrees, gain practical experience through internships or apprenticeships, and continually update your skills and knowledge.

  • The demand for engineers varies depending on the industry and region. Currently, disciplines such as software engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering are often in demand.

  • Engineer salaries in the UK vary depending on the experience, qualifications, and field of specialisation. Generally, engineers can earn competitive salaries, with average pay ranging from £25,000 to over £60,000 per year, depending on the level of expertise and industry sector.

  • The best engineering field for the future depends on various factors, such as market demand, technological advancements, and societal needs. Fields like artificial intelligence, renewable energy, cybersecurity, and biotechnology are often considered promising for the future of engineering.

  • Completing an engineering course can lead to various career opportunities in industries such as construction, manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, energy, telecommunications, and many more, with roles ranging from design and research to management and consultancy.

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