The Sixth Sense - Engineering "Should I keep going on my engineering degree?"

Updated: Mar 15, 2018

Engineering is a subject that requires very specific but varied personality traits: creativity, efficient problem solving skills, good mathematical awareness, a willingness to get your hands dirty and be very hands on with products but most importantly excellent communication (utilising various methods - verbal, listening, email, telephone etc.) skills.

Often engineering courses, in particular Bachelor's Degrees in Engineering, focus on a limited amounts of information and more specifically the academic traits that make up an engineer. Many students are able to thrive in this environment achieving top grades and on the contrary, many students struggle, often to a point where they contemplate dropping out of the course.

My advice to students in this situation is the following:


Now I am going to go into further details as to why I would give this advice to ANY student in such a situation. Engineering is not purely about academic philosophies and equations. It's also not purely about ones ability to design or refurbish a machine. Engineering is all these different skills and experiences molded into one. A highly skilled engineer is someone who has encountered many problems and been able to apply a variety of different scientific, creative, hard working and communication skills and can overcome most situations either on their own or as part of a team.

There comes a point in most engineer's lives where they are able to see the world from a different perspective. This may occur from standing on a street or in a building or even driving down under a tunnel. What I am talking about is what I have dubbed "The Sixth Sense: Engineering". This is where an engineer who has academic knowledge mixed with industry experience can see how things are idealised, designed, constructed and maintained. From this point forward, everything begins to line up and engineering as a philosophical subject begins to make sense in a technical manner. It is as if you have super powers and all your different skill sets come to fruition, to a point where any problem is solvable.

This point may come at varying points in an engineers career and is the reason why I implore students who are struggling to persevere. One of the simplest examples is the fundamental mathematics that make up mechanical science and you are wondering "when will I ever apply the equations of equilibrium to a beam". You may then go on to study material science or manufacturing technologies further down your course and it is then where you realise the application of the stresses applied through a specific component. On the contrary, material science may have been studied first in your engineering course of choice and again you are wondering "when will I ever need to know the stress-strain curve of x alloy" but again you will move onto the fundamental sciences that allow this to be applied in industry. I strongly believe that there is a method of best approach to tackling this issue however this can only work on an individual basis as we all learn at different rates and understand the technologies at different times. Only once, you have spent many hours in the box and applying the problem solving techniques you have learn does the sense become available at will.

I do hope, I am not the only person who encounters these sensations and has thought about the method of approach for creating an engineering course. If you agree, disagree or just wish to contribute please join as a member and leave your comments below. If you have had any similar experiences, please also leave them as you may just be helping someone continue their progression to joining this amazing industry that has the power to change lives and the world we live in.

I do hope in a coming blog post to discuss and create a road map to becoming a successful engineer and you all should know your input is always welcome!

Thanks for reading, "keep calm and carry on!"

Luke T Seal Engineering