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With a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skill shortage in various parts of the world, the need for more engineering graduates is on the rise to fill these gaps.
In recent years, Australia’s demand for engineers has started to outstrip supply, especially in the mining, civil infrastructure and manufacturing industries. While in the US, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 140,000 new engineering jobs will be created by 2026 in the US alone, meaning prospective engineering graduates there will also be in high demand.
So, what does this mean for engineering students and graduates?
Given this growing skills gap, it’s important that aspiring engineers are able to harness their well-rounded and sophisticated skillsets – something which prospective employers will always be on the lookout for – and a bachelor’s degree in engineering can be a great starting point to help you do this.
Being a good leader and taking initiative is essential
Good leadership skills are highly sought after in an any engineering workplace. As an engineer, you need to have the ability to assess risk and take initiative – something which employers will always be on the look-out for.
Engineers also need to be able to deliver projects on time – even in the face of constraints and obstacles. If you are deadline driven and excel under pressure, you’ll go far.
Being able to communicate effectively is key
Another skill that will serve you well in engineering – and honestly in any career path – is communication. Whether you’re working on a construction site or in the office, effective communication is essential to ensure good health and safety procedures, that products are assembled correctly, and that everyone working on the project is on the same page too.
Engineers usually have a more technical and complex understanding of things, but not everyone they work with will have the same technical experience which makes it even more important for them to be able to communicate effectively.
For example, if you decide to work as a mechanical engineer and design a new machine or product, you should have the ability to describe your invention not only to fellow engineers but also to the company who may want to buy your invention and market it to their customers.
There are also other numerous other interpersonal skills that will serve you well in this role…
You should be creative and collaborative
Technical skills are needed to find and fix issues in engineering, but the creativity to find new ways to solve problems is just as valuable.
Thinking up a new and effective way of doing something is what will get you noticed (and that recognition we all crave).
You should also be collaborative. There may be an “I” in engineer, but there’s no “I” in team and engineering definitely takes a collaborative team effort. You should be able to not only work well alone, but also with others.
Beyond soft skills, there are a number of hard skills you’ll need to be an outstanding engineer. (Don’t worry if you aren’t great at all of the below, a willingness to learn and develop the skills below will take you far – not just in university – but beyond).
Excellent project and process management is vital
Project and process management can help you in various aspects of an engineering role, but one of the major ways it can help you is to improve efficiency.
With good project management skills, you’ll be able to visualize and oversee a project from start to finish and manage all steps. A mechanical engineer designing a new product will also need great project management skills so they can lay out the product creation and execute it in a timely manner to meet the deadline.
Structural analysis and programming skills will never go amiss
Whether you’re a computer engineer who needs to program software or a structural engineer who needs to determine the loads on physical structures and their components so that they can build safe structures, you’ll need these hard skills to excel in your particular field of engineering.
Depending on what field of engineering you go into, these specific hard skills will vary.
Being good at math – specifically statistics is important
No matter if you want to be a chemical, mechanical, or other type of engineer, you will need to know statistics – and be pretty good at it too!
Statistic is vital to engineering. In every role and every step of the process, engineers need to know statistics in one form or another from rudimentary statistics to quantum mechanics. If you aced the math section of the quiz bowl, you may have found your calling!
There’s a growing demand for engineer graduates, so if you’re considering a degree in the in-demand field of engineering then here are some key skills that will take you far.