Every year or so, research reports present the benefits of studying a STEM field. Earning a degree in science, mathematics or engineering equips you with a multitude of analytical skills and great employment opportunities. But beyond the career prospects and obvious practical skills, I believe that being immersed in a technical field provides us with other life skills. In this blog, I will be presenting to you the top 3 life skills I have gained from studying engineering.
As an engineering researcher, design is a daily task. From a technical perspective, design allow us to efficiently capture and share complex ideas. Whether it is an electronic circuit, an intricate structure or even a software diagram, technical design enables us to carefully plan our next steps in order to communicate solutions. Technical design has taught me to be tactful when articulating my ideas and concise when communicating. Precise and clearly formulated arguments are similar to projectiles – despite their small size, it is the concentration of power unto a single point that makes them have a great impact!
Design also helps develop creativity. It allows us to competently express our emotions and create visualisations of ideas which otherwise would have been very difficult to convey. When developing consumer products, for example, it is important to provide an excellent user experience. Indeed sometimes this is as important as the functionality of the product. There is no better example than Apple’s flagship product. The iPhone signalled a new era in smartphones not only due to its hardware capabilities and performance but also due to its aesthetic design and overall appealing user experience. The same principles that apply when choosing colours and materials in developing any product.
The biggest victories and the most celebrated success stories lie on the other side of major obstacles and daunting problems. Most engineering students arrive at University with some problem solving skills and capacity to apply mathematical knowledge in order to develop solutions. However, a common theme of not just engineering but problem-solving fields in general is a continuous encounter with new challenges whose solutions are not formulaic. As the Danish polymath, Piet Hein, said:
“Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by fighting back.”
Nevertheless, these challenges present the opportunity to develop confidence in our ability to conquer difficult tasks. Having worked on various engineering projects which begin as a simple description on a piece of paper, I can honestly tell you that few feelings compare to the inner sense of accomplishment I receive when a design is transformed into reality and the motivation which pushes me to undertake even greater challenges.