To different people, engineering means different things, but in real sense, whatever definition we choose to give to it, it should resonate around creativity, building, repair, assembling and reconstruction of materials and resources into more effective use. Engineering was defined by the Engineers Council for Professional Development, in the United States, as the creative application of “scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behaviour under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property.”
Over years, engineers have been providing solutions to many problems faced in the society, among them is the discovery of solar power as a means of powering household equipment. They apply the principles of scientific research to solving real life issues. There is no limit to the application of engineering especially in recent times when the world is now a global village.
Brief History of Engineering
Engineering concepts and ideas have been existing since ancient times, dating back to when men devised machines used for farm operations such as the pulley, wheel and lever. Before history started, humans have devised means of surviving and making good use of their environments for survival. As civilization set in, people started building and designing tools for remodelling their environments. Every new invention made gave rise to a question and challenge to work upon.
The word engineer dates back to 1325 when an engineer -one who operates an engine was originally referred to a constructor of military engines that is a division of mechanical engineering. Later, other areas of engineering were discovered fully with the construction of bridges and buildings to easy transportation and inhabitation, that is a branch of civil engineering. In the fourth century BC, there was construction and improvement of the aqueduct system that transported water in and around Rome.
However, this was not seen as an engineering work way back. The modern engineering that we know today started in the 1500s when mathematical models were applied in the building of military weapons. The first engineer known by name and achievement is Imhotep, builder of the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, Egypt, around 2550 BCE.
The application of technology to engineering brought more innovations and ideas that made our everyday activities a lot easier. For instance, the discovery of a continuous stitch sewing machine by Isaac Singer in 1851. In the same century, Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone in 1876 while Lewis E Waterman patents a practical fountain pen a few years later in 1884.
In the 19th century, a lot of notable inventions where made which gave a better insight into the role of engineering and the need for more specialization in this field. At this time, the engineering profession began to divide into special disciplines, such as civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering.
During the 20th century, engineering devised better means of communicating even in the simplest way with the introduction of telephones, television and radio. Although at this time, these devices were still in their most primitive form, over time modifications are being done and till date, a lot more is being done to make life ultimately palatable for humans courtesy of engineering.
10 Things You Would Wish You Knew Before Becoming an Engineering Student
- Socializing is as crucial as academics: aside from gathering all the essential skills and knowledge of concepts in engineering, socializing will give you the headway post-graduation. It will go a long way to develop your communication skills and social interactions. Getting along with people is as important as being a brilliant student. Socializing can be a great way to get your work recognized and put yourself on the radar for future employers.
- No one is an island of knowledge: it is very common among fresh students to learn independently. However, it is very important to imbibe the culture of reaching out to others for help bearing in mind that we all have our limits. Communicating your ideas and sharing knowledge not only fosters good relationships but also catapult you towards your set goals.
- You won’t find everything you learnt useful: in the real sense, many of the concepts and ideas learnt in school may never be applicable after school. It is very important to get a quick grasp of useful information from everything learnt while in school rather than focusing on learning everything to the maximum.
- Don’t focus too much on the getting the best institution: this is one of the most frequent misconceptions made young students, although prestigious universities really look good on resumé, it is not the most important factor to consider. In engineering especially, prospective employers will likely be more interested in your own projects and achievements, rather than those of your alma mater.
- Think outside engineering alone: it may be fascinating to know that after graduation you may never apply any of the engineering concepts, it is very essential to gain useful skills especially the IT skills and good knowledge of Microsoft office that are not exactly associated with engineering.
- There is no guaranteed job after graduation: as against the belief of a naïve aspirant, studying engineering does not automatically guarantee a job after graduation, although engineering field just like other science-related field has good job prospect there is no automatic recruitment despite the high demand for graduates in these fields. A lot of recent graduates face reality in the months following their graduation when they fail to get a job for life immediately.
- Find joy and a sense of purpose in what you are studying: although the university is a really challenging place especially for those in STEM field, there is always a work-life balance even as an engineering student. If studying engineering makes life miserable, it wouldn’t hurt to opt-out.
- Get practical skills: it is very important to practice some of the theoretical concepts learnt in school. During the break, find a practical outlet for your theoretical studies. In the end, what matters is what you can offer and your level of experience. While in school, start seeking professional experience.
- No one employs based on CGPA: After graduation, employers are not so interested grades or academic performance, your personal projects and practical skills will mean more than your grades.
- Internet is your greatest resources: with a great wealth of information online, learning has been simplified so much that you do not necessarily have to struggle too much. There are a lot of lecture videos and podcasts to help you learn seamlessly as an engineering student.
Why People Study Engineering
It is one of the commonest things to hear when asked what field of study a young child would love to venture into. For different reasons, many considered a career in engineering, however, there are different routes to becoming an engineer, either as an apprentice, degree or higher education. Here are some of the reasons people resolved to studying engineering:
- It is a prestigious profession: they are one of the most admired people as they work really hard to bring devices and components that make life easy for mankind. Engineers command good respect naturally when you find them around because of their exceptional qualities, for this reason, many consider a career in this profession.
- Achievement of professional success: engineers have logical thinking, critical analysis and decision-making skills that are sought after by many professional careers. The field prepares engineers to be very sound in different areas of life, meaning aside from the formal engineering training, they are also groomed to be professionals.
- Acquisition of problem-solving skill: because of the training, engineering students come out with a degree that fully equips them to be problem-solvers. They are well trained to solve problems.
- Financial stability: on average, engineers are some parts of the well-paid people. There are a lot of opportunities open to them with good financial reward. With a career in engineering, there is a high likelihood of financial breakthrough.
- Meaningful contribution to society: engineers are some of the builders of society. They play useful roles in housing construction, electrification, repair of machines and equipment, construction of good and pliable roads.
- International recognition: due to the professional relevance of this field, its application is found in different parts of the world. To further increase the chances of securing a place outside your home country, adding a good knowledge of other languages also gives higher chances of practicing.
- Practical based field: unlike other professions that keep you glued to one place, engineers are not only theory-oriented, but it also has practical sessions that allow professionals to try their hands on some of the theoretical concepts learnt in the course of their program. For someone who does not fancy working in the office all day, engineering is a good field to look into.
As engineers work assiduously to proffer solutions, they also put into consideration, the cost efficiency, safety and efficiency of the various components manufactured. They employ the use of two types of natural resources namely: materials and energy. Even as resources are limited in supply, engineers work smartly to effectively utilize the available resources while making plans to develop new ones. Engineering is of different types with each performing specific functions; there are five major types of engineering namely: Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Chemical and Industrial engineering.
Engineering is a broad-spectrum field with diverse application in real life. Engineering principles are so diverse and broad that it applies the underlying principles of basic science courses like Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics which is essentially useful for engineering models. Also, extensions of material science, mechanics (solid and fluid), thermodynamics and systems analysis. Today, we do not only see engineers working within their jurisdictions, but also bringing their useful applications to areas of health, urbanisation, security, education and a lot more.