What engineers do

Is there anything engineers DON’T do?

As an engineer, your career can be super flexible to suit your skills and interests. Even if you aren’t sure what type of engineer you want to be, the great thing is many of the skills you learn are transferable across all engineering types. In fact, many universities, including ours, offer the option to choose your specialisation after one or two years.

In a very basic sense, engineers use maths and science and solve world problems. If you think that makes engineering sound overly simplistic, then think again. It’s the clever ways engineers use their knowledge that makes them unique.

The field of engineering is so vast that it is very hard to define exactly what an engineer does. This website alone catalogues 24 different types of engineering. However great engineers possess four traits which can be applied to any engineering career.

Four things engineers do

Engineers are problem solvers.

Engineers study high level maths and science and use those, along with their creativity and imagination, to isolate problems, analyse them, address them and come up with practical ways to change things so they perform better and make things better for us.

Engineers thrive on fixing things.

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Well, not if you’re an engineer. Engineers believe that just because something is working, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be ‘fixed”” with some new features or made to go faster. Engineers won’t settle for ‘that will do’. To them, there is no such thing as ‘best’. They work hard to improve things or make them work more efficiently or less expensively.

Engineers need good communication.

Successful engineers are great at communicating ideas and instructions, both verbally and in writing. Engineering involves being able to negotiate and consult with other professionals to get the best results. They often need to work across whole teams of people from different disciplines. Delivering documentation that is clear and concise is also something an engineer needs to be able to do.

Engineers need to be ‘big picture’ thinkers.

Understanding the entire scope of a project is important for any engineering career. That involves understanding constraints, prioritising tasks, managing project budgets and working to deadlines. An engineer’s designs and plans have to adhere to the highest standards of quality and safety. Engineers then need to manage the people, processes and machinery involved in completing a project.

Some tasks an engineer might perform

If you are wondering about your engineering career and what it might involve day-to-day, then read on. Engineers often work on projects, so one day could be very different from the next, depending on which part of the project it is.

One day you could be designing a structure, the next day writing a report or some documentation. You could often be sending emails with detailed instructions, preparing and presenting a proposal, speaking on the phone to a consulting client, or attending a meeting on site.

What fields do engineers work in?

There are many different areas of engineering. But remember, engineers can usually move from one field to another, or combine their interests. An example is the mining industry which needs a lot of electrical and mechanical engineers. Find out more about the areas of engineering we teach at UNSW Faculty of Engineering below: