Are you thinking of studying Engineering?
If you have a flair for Maths and Physics, and you’re interested in a degree with practical applications that leads naturally into a good career path, an Engineering degree could be just what you’re looking for.
Thanks to a shortage of engineers, graduates with Engineering degrees are in demand among employers, and this diverse subject presents an extraordinary variety of specialisation and career options.
What kind of things can I expect to study?
There are several branches of engineering, and they’re usually offered as degree subjects in their own right, so we devote this section to a summary of the most common courses. You can expect the majority of your teaching time to be taken up with lab work and lectures, with design projects and group work both important elements of most courses.
This covers the infrastructure that keeps the world operating: roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, pipelines and so on. A degree in Civil Engineering will teach you how to apply physics and mathematics to the design of structures, and you might study such topics as hydraulics, materials and geology. You’ll learn skills such as surveying, as well as how to manage projects and sites.
This branch of engineering deals with the design and manufacture of products: anything from cars to satellites, mobile phones to wind turbines. As well as studying engineering concepts and learning the skills you need to design and test products, you can expect to learn about such things as circuit theory, how materials behave under stress, systems modelling and much more.
As the name suggests, Electrical Engineering deals with electricity supply and the design of electronic systems, such as those used in communications or manufacturing. Among the many subjects you’ll cover, you’ll learn all about electronic circuits, digital electronics, and computers, hardware and software.
Chemical Engineering involves designing, building and operating systems that use raw materials to create products such as medicines, plastics and so on. It involves the study of such topics as materials science, thermodynamics, chemical reactions, petroleum and even cell biology.
Those with a special interest in aviation might be interested in this more niche engineering degree, which deals with all aspects of the designing, constructing, testing and running of aircraft. You can expect to study aerodynamics, avionics (the electrical systems in aircraft), propulsion, and materials, among other things.
What do I need for an Engineering degree?
Mathematics is the essential A-level to have for any Engineering degree, with other subjects determined by which branch of engineering you go for. Further Maths is always going to be useful, and Physics will be essential or highly recommended for most Engineering degrees, in particular Civil Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering. Design and Technology would come in useful for all Engineering degrees as well, and Chemistry will be essential for Chemical Engineering.
What skills will I acquire?
Any kind of Engineering degree will give you technical knowledge and in a particular area of engineering, as well as ‘people skills’ such as the communication and leadership skills needed to manage projects, sites and clients as an engineer in charge of a project. Because engineering as a profession requires working in teams, you can expect plenty of group work at university, which will teach you teamwork skills that could be applied elsewhere if you wanted to.
Will I get to travel as part of my degree?
Placements are an important part of most Engineering degrees, and these could be in the UK or overseas according to your preference.
What careers are possible with an Engineering degree?
An Engineering degree equips you with the knowledge and practical skills you need to become a professional engineer, and many students go on to get jobs with the employers with whom they did their placement while at university. Engineers are in demand across numerous sectors, such as the car, construction, aviation and oil industries, and the diverse roles available could include consultancy, maintenance engineering, power generation, water management, food processing and many, many more. Don’t forget that you’ll need to do a four-year MEng course to qualify as a Chartered Engineer, as well as gaining professional experience; but there are still plenty of options if you only do the three-year undergraduate course.
Teaching and research are, as ever, options with this degree. If, after three or more years studying Engineering, you decide that this isn’t a career you want to pursue, the strong numerical, teamwork and communication skills taught by this degree would allow you to turn your attention to an unrelated career.
If you’re considering studying one of the branches of Engineering, you might also be interested in the following degrees.
- Physics – Engineering is all about the application of physics to real life, but if you’re more interested in the theoretical side, or in other areas of physics such as astrophysics, you might be better off studying it as a subject in its own right.
- Mathematics – Engineers have a strong aptitude for Mathematics, and if you’d rather concentrate wholly on developing your skills as a mathematician, this could be another degree for you to consider.
- Chemistry – if you’re interested in Chemical Engineering, you might also enjoy studying Chemistry on its own.
- Computer Sciences – if the computer aspects of an Electrical Engineering degree appeal to you most, you could investigate Computer Science courses as an alternative that would allow you to focus completely on computers.
A final thought on Engineering
A shortage of qualified engineers means that graduate starting salaries are high, and interestingly, Scotland is a good place to look for jobs thanks to the oil industry (in fact, starting salaries for engineers in Scotland are higher than those in London) – at least for Mechanical Engineers. Whichever branch of Engineering you choose, there’s plenty of scope for specialising in an area or industry that interests you and you’ll know that you’re making a valuable contribution to society in the process.
Do you have a passion for robotics, technology or engineering? If so, then why not join us this summer at our Engineering summer school and gain an insight and understanding of the exciting career opportunities that are open to you.