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Why Study Engineering: Building a Future, Brick by Brick

Updated: Mar 5


An engineer laying bricks to make a wall.

Humans have always had a desire to develop, plan, and address challenges, as evidenced by the earliest flint tools. This innate motivation is what drives engineers, the creators who transform concepts into real-world solutions, shaping our environment from towering skyscrapers to life-saving medical equipment. However, with a vast range of career options and constantly evolving technologies, the question arises: why study engineering?


This article delves into why engineering might be the perfect fit for you, exploring the rewarding opportunities, intellectual challenges, and societal impact this field offers. We'll also touch upon the lucrative career prospects, with specific salary figures backed by credible sources, while addressing your concerns about the workload and required skills.



Why Study Engineering? A World of Opportunities Awaits


Engineering encompasses a vast landscape of specializations catering to diverse interests and talents. Whether you're fascinated by the intricacies of electronics, drawn to the awe-inspiring scale of civil engineering, or captivated by the intricacies of biomedical engineering, there's a branch waiting to ignite your passion. This diversity translates to many career paths, from designing sustainable cities to developing AI-powered robots, ensuring employment opportunities across various industries.


Global Demand, Global Opportunities:


Imagine collaborating on high-speed rail networks in Europe, contributing to cutting-edge robotics in Japan, or developing clean energy solutions in Africa. In the United States alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the engineering field projects to have employment growth of 6 percent from 2020 to 2030. Nearly 146,000 new engineering jobs will be created over the next decade.        

                 

This translates to lucrative opportunities in developed countries like Germany, the USA, and Singapore, where engineers are highly sought-after and enjoy competitive salaries and career growth potential. You can further leverage your expertise in these high-demand markets by specializing in niche areas like renewable energy, automation, or cybersecurity. Engineers are in high demand worldwide, opening doors to international careers and experiences.


More Than Just Numbers: Cultural Immersion and Growth:


While financial aspects are essential, remember that the rewards of engineering extend far beyond salaries. Working on international projects exposes you to diverse cultures, broadens your perspective, and equips you with invaluable skills:


  • Adaptability and communication: Navigating multicultural environments hones your ability to collaborate effectively, overcome cultural nuances, and thrive in new situations.

  • Lifelong learning: The field constantly evolves, demanding continuous learning and innovation, keeping you intellectually stimulated and at the forefront of advancements.

  • Network building: Working with diverse teams fosters camaraderie, collaboration, and friendships, forming a valuable network that transcends borders.

 

Your Impact on the World:


Engineering empowers you to become a global citizen, contributing to solutions that benefit communities worldwide. Imagine creating sustainable infrastructure in developing countries, designing disaster-resilient solutions for vulnerable regions, or developing life-saving technologies that impact lives everywhere.


Remember, studying engineering is an investment in your future, equipping you with valuable skills, opening doors to diverse experiences, and empowering you to make a meaningful impact on the world. Don't limit yourself to local opportunities; unlock your potential and embark on a global journey paved with innovation, fulfillment, and endless possibilities.


The most versatile undergraduate degree


What does Maybank and iFast have in common? They are both financial companies that hire fresh university graduates, especially those with an engineering degree. Engineering degrees are highly preferred in many industries because of their versatility. These degrees open doors to many non-engineering industries. Engineers are highly sought after in various industries due: 


  • Transferable skills: The core skills learned in engineering – problem-solving, critical thinking, analytical thinking, teamwork – are valuable across numerous professions, not just technical ones.

  • Adaptability to changing job markets: With rapid technological advancements, engineers can adjust their skillsets and knowledge to fit emerging industries and roles.

  • Solid foundation for further education: An engineering degree can serve as a strong foundation for pursuing postgraduate studies in various fields, including business, law, or medicine.


Building a Rewarding Future: The Financial Aspect


Let's face it: financial stability plays a crucial role in career choices. Fortunately, engineering boasts some of the most lucrative job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for engineers in the United States was $104,600 in May 2022, significantly higher than the national median annual wage of $46,310. For Singapore the average is around S$123,300 while in the UK this figure is around £41,968.


Specific salaries vary depending on specialization, experience, and location. For instance, the median annual wage for computer hardware engineers in US was $128,840, while petroleum engineers earned a median of $137,040 in May 2022 (BLS). These figures highlight the strong earning potential that awaits qualified engineers.


Beyond the Numbers: The Impact of Engineering


A satisfied engineer looking over a bridge.

Engineering's true reward lies in its tangible impact on society, with financial aspects being important as well. Engineers are vital in addressing global challenges and improving lives, from developing clean energy solutions to safe and efficient transportation systems. Whether building bridges that connect communities or creating prosthetics that restore mobility, every project contributes to a better future for all.


The satisfaction of seeing your work directly benefit others is an intrinsic reward unique to the engineering profession. Imagine contributing to groundbreaking medical technologies that save lives or designing sustainable infrastructure that combats climate change. As an engineer, your creativity and analytical skills can have a real, positive impact on the world around you.


Embracing the Challenge: What Does It Take to Become an Engineer?


Engineering is undeniably demanding, requiring a strong foundation in mathematics, science, and critical thinking. You'll delve into complex theories, tackle challenging problem-solving scenarios, and engage in hands-on projects that put your knowledge to the test. Be prepared for rigorous coursework, late-night study sessions, and moments where perseverance will be your key ally.


However, don't let the challenges deter you. The sense of accomplishment after overcoming a difficult task, the joy of seeing your design come to life, and the collaborative spirit fostered within engineering communities make the journey worthwhile. Dedication, curiosity, and a willingness to learn are valuable assets in this field.


Engineering: More Than Just Numbers and Formulas


While technical skills are essential, engineering is far from a purely analytical pursuit. It requires creativity and imagination to envision solutions, communication skills to collaborate effectively, and leadership qualities to guide projects to completion. These transferable skills equip you not only for engineering careers but also for success in various other fields.

Furthermore, engineering fosters a problem-solving mindset that extends beyond technical challenges. You'll learn to approach situations logically, analyze data, and devise innovative solutions, skills invaluable in all life aspects.


Is Engineering Right for You?


If you enjoy tinkering, solving puzzles, and building things, possess a strong foundation in math and science, and desire to impact the world, engineering might be the perfect fit. While the path demands dedication and hard work, the rewards – intellectual stimulation, financial security, and the satisfaction of leaving your mark on the world – make it a worthwhile journey.


Exploring the Diverse Landscape of Engineering Specialties:


An engineer working on a device that measures blood pressure and heart rate. The engineer is holding a laptop and a screwdriver, while the device is connected to a monitor

With many specializations under its umbrella, engineering caters to various interests and skill sets. Let's delve into some popular branches to gain a deeper understanding:


  • Electrical & Computer Engineering: Designed and developed hardware and software systems, powering everything from smartphones to smart grids. This field demands strong analytical and problem-solving skills, with excellent prospects in robotics, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.

  • Mechanical Engineering: Create and analyze mechanical systems, from intricate robots to powerful engines. Mechanical engineers require strong mathematical and physics knowledge, coupled with an aptitude for design and innovation. Opportunities abound in automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing industries.

  • Civil Engineering: Design and build infrastructure that forms the backbone of our society, from bridges and buildings to transportation systems. This field emphasizes design, project management, and understanding of materials and forces. Career paths span across construction, urban planning, and environmental engineering.

  • Chemical Engineering: Apply chemical principles to develop processes for producing useful materials and products. This specialization requires a strong knowledge of chemistry and physics, with diverse pharmaceuticals, energy, and food production applications.

  • Biomedical Engineering: Combine engineering principles with life sciences to create innovative medical devices and technologies. This rapidly evolving field demands a blend of technical expertise and biological understanding, offering prosthetics, biomaterials, and tissue engineering opportunities.


Remember, this is just a glimpse into the vast world of engineering. Each specialization offers unique challenges and rewards, so research those that resonate with your interests and skills.


Addressing Common Concerns:


  • Is engineering too rigorous? Yes, it demands dedication and hard work. But with strong study habits, time management skills, and readily available academic support, you can thrive in this challenging environment.

  • What if I don't excel in math and science? While a strong foundation in these subjects is beneficial, engineering programs equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge. Additionally, many universities offer preparatory courses and support programs to help students build their proficiency.

  • Is engineering just for men? Not! The field is becoming increasingly diverse, welcoming individuals from all backgrounds and genders. Numerous organizations actively encourage women and underrepresented groups to pursue engineering careers.


Your Pre-Uni Journey: Building a Strong Foundation


Now, let's explore the essential stepping stones on your pre-uni path toward a rewarding engineering career:


Focus on Core Subjects:


  • Mathematics: This underpins almost all engineering disciplines, so mastering algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics is crucial.

  • Science: Physics, chemistry, and biology provide foundational knowledge applicable to various engineering fields. Understand core concepts and delve deeper into areas that align with your interests.

  • Additional Mathematics: This subject, offered in some countries, further strengthens your mathematical skills and problem-solving abilities.


Beyond the Core:


  • Computer Science: Gain basic coding proficiency and explore programming languages like Python or Java. This skill is increasingly valuable across engineering disciplines.

  • English Language: Strong communication skills are vital for collaboration, report writing, and presentations. Hone your fluency and ability to express complex ideas clearly.

  • CAD (Computer-Aided Design): Master a 3D CAD software like SOLIDWORKS to create digital models of parts, assemblies, and systems. This skill is highly sought-after by employers and allows you to visualize, design, and analyze your engineering ideas with precision and efficiency. SOLIDWORKS, specifically, is a popular choice due to its user-friendly interface, vast library of components, and powerful simulation tools. Participating in online tutorials, workshops, or certification programs can help you build your expertise in this valuable software.

  • Project work: Participate in STEM-related projects or competitions to apply your knowledge practically, develop teamwork skills, and showcase your passion for engineering.


Remember, success in pre-uni isn't just about achieving top grades. Cultivate curiosity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a willingness to learn. Explore different engineering disciplines through resources like online courses, internships, or career talks. This helps you identify your specific interests and choose the right engineering path.


Taking the First Step:


If you're considering a future in engineering, explore your interests, research different specializations, or connect with engineers and mentors through our forum. Or if you are just trying to figure out what's next after IGCSE and SPM, use career counseling resources, visit university engineering departments, and participate in engineering internships or research opportunities.


Remember, the journey to becoming an engineer is rewarding, challenging, and ultimately, one that empowers you to build a better future for yourself and the world around you.



Reference:

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (2023, May 18). Occupational Employment Statistics: Computer Hardware Engineers. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172199.htm


Glassdoor Economic Research Team. (n.d.). Singapore Engineer Salaries: Salaries by Job Title, Experience & Location. Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/singapore-engineer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,9_IM1123_KO10,18.htm


UK.talent. (n.d.). Salary: Engineer. Retrieved from https://uk.talent.com/salary?job=engineer



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