Take a look around yourself. What do you see? Maybe books, chairs, a
television, or even your clothes. All the day to day things that are man-made, you can be sure that an engineer helped make it. Engineers have shaped our world as we know it. There are many different kinds of engineers from chemical, mechanical, textile, civil, agricultural and structural engineers. Our civilization would be as advanced as the Stone Age without these people. This career demands a wide education of math and science. It is an ever-changing career with new advances in materials and the way products are produced. Engineering careers are very secure with respect to compensation. Regardless of this, it does have it’s disadvantages as well. All and all engineering is demanding, but well worth the work.
The education of an engineer is probably the most demanding as far as the mastery of the material given as any other degree. Usually in their first year, a student will be put into a special program that starts the course load with math and science. These are the basis for every engineer’s education. After the first two years of the program, the student chooses exactly what field of engineering he or she would like and finishes out their degree concentrating on that particular field. Towards the end of their college career, the student will usually be offered a job by recruitment or they are hired after they graduate. Most employers seek out four-year graduates with a degree in a specific area of concentration.
Engineering has many advantages to offer. The best would probably be the salary. A student with an engineering bachelors degree will be offered a higher paying job on average than any other bachelors degree offered. (Basta 12) An average annual salary in a starting Federal Government position was $96,370 in 1994. Along with high wages comes job security. Even when the economy is bad, unemployment of engineers will only rise one or two points on average. (Kirby 64) Other advantages include interesting work, creative work and working with the latest technological advances in the field you choose to go into. Engineering as a whole shows many superior qualities over other jobs, but it also has its disadvantages.
Engineering degrees require the most math and science of any other degrees offered. The study is extremely hard work and only ten percent of all starting students in an engineering program finish their major and graduate with a degree. (Britannica 243) Another disadvantage of being an engineer is the actual status of being one. It is not looked upon as highly as other fields such as doctors and lawyers. Most of the time they are looked upon as nerds. In addition, most engineers are not promoted to high level positions such as presidents or top executives. They do not have the accounting or business education to do that particular job. This means that most engineers never get the opportunity to be their own boss. (Basta 22)
The job of an engineer itself is a creative job. The actual definition of an engineer is “The profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize the materials and forces of nature economically for the benefit of mankind.” (Bastas 24) In having the basic skills and experiences in math and science, an engineer is basically an inventor. They are given a problem and are depended on to come up with a solution. Whether it be a new chemical, a mechanical part, or even a whole new system such as computer operating program, engineers are the problem solvers of our materialistic society. (Basta 45)
Many engineers work in laboratories, industrial plants, or construction sites where they inspect, supervise, or solve onsite problems. (Britannica 244) Engineering itself has a sort of chain of command in the way a project is handled. It follows in the order form of highest to lowest: management, development, research, design, construction, production, and finally operation. (Britannica 245) This chain is necessary because of the amount of time and work that is needed to make sure that the project they are helping to create or resolve is successful in every way asked of it. The time of lone engineers is passing and now most engineers work on teams that are highly experienced in that particular field. (Basta 45) Another reason that a team is now being used more often is because of what is being asked of them. With the fast paced world and the developing of new materials many engineers are no longer wanted to fix small imperfections; they are wanted to come up with whole new systems. (Basta 45) These new ways of developing technology are putting out more user-friendly technology than ever before because of the fact that there are more opinions and ways of thinking being put into a product with team systems.
Engineering itself has always been an ever-changing career that requires you to keep up with new materials and ways of doing things. The history stretches far back to when man was first learning and began to use tools. (Britannica 248) However, the first great engineering feats that are still around today came from Egypt. In the ancient world, Egypt was the premier civilization as far as engineering is concerned. Architectural construction was the primary concern of ancient Egypt . Their most successful projects were the Sphinx and The Great Pyramids. (Kirby 67) These great feats of structural engineering showed Egypt’s supremacy over other cultures and also marked the first exciting feats of engineering in our civilization. (Kirby 68) As time passed and Egypt lost power, Rome and Greece led the way in new technology and engineering. (Kirby 68) One of Rome’s great achievements was the invention of flowing water in populated urban areas. ( Kirby 68) They did this with a system called aqueducts. Now they are called “The Aqueducts of Italy”. (Kirby 69)
In England the Elizabethan period was a time of great advances in science and art. (Kirby72) As time passed engineering branched off into many new categories as science became a new field. Society began to ask questions concerning its existence instead of making assumptions. (Kirby 74) The most rapid development in our civilization has come in our own century. With the rapid advances in the materials we use, the field of engineering has become wide spread.
Our greatest achievement is the invention of the computer. These machines have enhanced our lives in ways never before conceived. These are becoming the future of engineering and the destruction as we look ahead. (Kirby 78)
The future of engineering is computers. (Basta 120) These machines have changed the way the whole industry works. From the way, a blue print may be read, to the way it was produced, computers have made it possible to test the structural integrity of building design so that modifications can be made if it fails to hold up in a simulated earthquake (Basta 125). Computers have made the drawing of plans much simpler than drawings by hand. Instead of having four draftsmen, you can employ one person at a computer doing the same amount of work, only faster. As a result, many engineering jobs are being replaced by computers and putting many engineers out of work (Kirby 78). Many companies wanting to keep their employees are willing to train them to work with computers, but some companies want to lay off hundreds of employees at a time.
: I would have to say the career of engineering has been changed the most by the computer. I remember the first time they started using one. It was incredible! One person could sit at a computer and do the same amount of work that four others were doing by hand.
The education required to become an engineer is quite strenuous. I graduated from N.C. State with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. The amount of science and math required is horrendous. I used to treat my studies like a job. I would go to the library from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, going over notes ten to twenty times. Most employers look for four-year degree graduates in a specific field. When I got out of college, I went to work for Burlington Industries. I designed the air-conditioning systems on new industrial buildings. The environment of my work was great. I liked working with a group of people on a project. I think the best part of being an engineer was the creativity of the job. I loved being handed a problem and actually being able to fix it by creating a new system or device and being able to say that I made that, I invented that. Being an engineer has been one of the most personally satisfying jobs I have ever had. (Steele)
None the less, the career of engineering is one that provides many benefits to the ones who are willing to work for the degree. This field has a variety of areas to excel in. It provides creative work, the chance to work with a team, and the compensation is far from the average. Engineering is also one of the most important careers in our society. Without it, our civilization would be nothing like it is today; and the pleasures that many of us take for granted would not be here to comfort us.
Basta, Nicholas. Engineering Careers Lincohnwood, Illinois: Career Horizons 1996.
Clancy, Tom. Submarine: A guided tour inside a Nuclear Warship. New York,
New York: A Berkley Book, 1993
Kirby, Shelton, Richard. Engineering in History. New York, New York: McGraw Hillbrook, 1956
“Nuclear Engineering”. EXPAN Career Description.
“Engineering”. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Accessed February 23, 1999.
Joe Steele, Personal interview 3, March 1999.
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