Engineering is a wide ranging term which can apply to many different disciplines. However, common engineering skills are essential to any one of these disciplines. Engineers are often tasked with complex, hard and wide ranging work. As such they therefore need a large skill set to allow them to tackle all aspects of their work efficiently. In this article, we are going to outline 8 essential engineering skills.
Engineers are tasked everyday with solving a variety of problems. Some of these might be fairly trivial, ‘how do we stop this can falling off the production line?’ for example. Other problems might be much more complex, such as ‘how do we minimise waste production in this part of the production process?’. Whatever the problem, a creative mindset is almost always required. Engineers drive technology and industry forward; the ability to challenge present assumptions and find out new ways to solve age old problems is essential.
Along with creativity, curiosity is another integral addition to engineering skills, especially when it comes to problem solving. Solving problems, especially the most complex ones, requires an active and intuitive mind. Only by asking ourselves questions like ‘Why does it work like that? Is there a way to improve this? What if I did this?’ and thinking about the answers can we come up with workable solutions to challenging problems.
3. Technical Knowledge and Aptitude
However important the two previous engineering skills are, they are incomplete without technical knowledge to go with them. With the technical knowledge and aptitude, and engineer can start applying this knowledge in creative ways, and make assumptions about things they do not yet understand. By understanding how things work, the science behind industrial processes and process interaction, we can start to apply this knowledge to solving these problems.
4. Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills
Another key aspect of an engineers problem solving repertoire is analytical and critical thinking skills. To ensure problems can be solved quickly and efficiently, the process of solving them should be undertaken in a particular manner. Analysing every part of the problem, thinking about every aspect in a logical manner can almost always lead to a solution. Another part of this is coming up with multiple solutions to a problem, analysing each solution and logically coming up with a conclusion about which one to take.
From the first year of university right the way through an engineering career to eventual retirement, there is no denying that engineering is hard work. That is why motivation is essential for engineers to push through the hard times and remain undeterred by challenging tasks. Strong motivation leads to an engineer’s desire to learn new skills and techniques, keep on top of industrial developments, and to not stop in the face of demanding work.
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Along with more technical and problem solving skills, there are plenty of soft engineering skills required to make a competent engineer. Some of the most important ones are teamwork and leadership skills. Engineers are always working as part of teams, whether that be in a team of engineers to solve a problem or in a multidisciplinary team working to deliver a project. A single mind cannot achieve the same as a well disciplined team, and it is rare that one engineer works alone. Becoming a team player, one that can interact, work with and compliment other team members is a key engineering skill.
Alongside team working skills is the ability to lead. Engineers will naturally accumulate more experience and given more team responsibility throughout their careers. Engineers often become leaders, both of project teams and higher up in organisations. As an engineer develops, enhancing skills in identifying and utilising team strengths, motivation and discipline will consequently set them up for a future leadership position.
Engineering is a very technical subject, especially when considering some of the scientific concepts behind the work. The key difference in desired skills between scientists and engineers is their ability to effectively communicate the technical work. Engineers often rely on non technical people to complete work. Therefore they must effectively communicate the problem to them in words they will understand. Similarly, engineers will often have to explain the technical problems to senior non-technical figures. As well as this, engineers often need to write reports and other documents. Effective written communication is therefore another key aspect of their work.
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