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4 skills every modern engineer needs

23/10/2019
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Engineering in all its forms is a complex career path to follow, with numerous specialities requiring different levels of education, experience and ability. But across the board there are certain key skills that will help any engineer succeed.

Recognising a problem and finding a solution is a fundamental requirement for engineers
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Problem solving

A cornerstone of engineering, breaking an issue down into its composite parts, understanding where the problem lies and developing a system to fix it is an essential skill whether you’re working on an offshore oil rig, building a car engine or repairing a telecommunications network. 

Depending on your role, this can be anything from fixing a broken element of an existing technology to developing an entirely new solution to an anticipated goal. In any event you need to be able to think critically about the goal you hope to achieve (whether it’s fixing a problem, anticipating a potential future issue in a new process, improving efficiency or creating something that will help you reach a target) and create a solution.

Despite sounding like a rather abstract skill, it is one that can be honed over time. Effective critical thinking can be learned by practising the following:

  • Asking questions to gather relevant information.
  • Identifying biases and minimising their influence.
  • Evaluating all available data relevant to the situation or problem.
  • Asking for feedback and collaborating with others involved in the situations, including people with different backgrounds, perspectives and knowledge specialities.
  • Generating a variety of possible solutions and determining the optimal implementation to give the desired consequences.

Engineers have to be creative to come up with new solutions for technologies and processes
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Creativity

The rest is creativity. While creative roles are often thought of as ones involving words or graphics, the truth is that engineers are required to think up new ideas for achieving goals or fixing problems. The most successful engineers take the knowledge they have and find new ways to apply it.

Once again, this is something that can be developed through practice. Thinking outside the box is a well known phrase, but for an engineer it’s beneficial to be able to understand the box to begin with. Look at the existing systems, technology or processes and find ways to build on them.

Creativity is the ability to ask “what if?”. If you can come up with an idea to add to an existing process - or even an entirely new idea on its own - then you have the necessary creativity to be a successful engineer.

Adapt your workflow to the needs of the business to be more successful
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Adaptation

Technologies are changing faster than ever and with that businesses and the role engineers play has to change as well.

While part of the job of an engineer is to develop and implement new ideas, another part is constant adaptation to other new processes. Engineers must be able to adapt to change and quickly learn the essentials of the latest developments.

To be successful in engineering, it’s important to stay up to date and well informed in your field.

Working with others is important for all engineering jobs, so work hard on your people skills
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People skills

Communication is a vital, yet often overlooked, element of any workplace. As an engineer you should be putting as much work into developing your people skills as your technical skills.

There are two main benefits to this:

Collaboration - What’s better than a well-informed engineer? Two well-informed engineers.

Being able to bounce ideas off another person, or rely on the specialist knowledge of someone else can ensure that your goal is accomplished to a much higher standard, and much faster.

Most engineering jobs and projects require working in a team, so being able to communicate and work well with others is always going to be important.

Leadership - Those engineers who pay attention to soft skills are the ones who will excel at managing people - opening up opportunities for you to take on leadership or management roles.

In these positions you will often have to work alongside non-technical staff from your own or other organisations, which can present challenges in communicating technical knowledge. Those who can work alongside anyone - not just other engineers - are more likely to succeed.

A successful engineer has mastered all of these vital skills
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Mastered the essential skills for a successful engineer?

Then register with Fircroft to find your next job on a major engineering project.

Tags: Engineering
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