• Question: what exactly do engineers do

    Asked by 653heab47 to Billy, Louise, Naomi, Rachel, Urvashi on 8 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Naomi Green

      Naomi Green answered on 8 Mar 2015:

      Hello there, that is a great question which a lot of people don’t know the answer to!

      Engineers do a very broad range of things but I think it boils down to one simple things. We solve problems. We do that using science, maths and creativity. That might be solving a problem by designing a new product or understanding a problem better by analysing it using computer simulation. Professional engineers also have to manage people and projects so they learn a lot of business, organisational and financial skills as well.

      Most of what we do also benefits society and makes the world a better place. For example I have designed safer cars to reduce injuries in crashes and investigated major train crashes so that we learn from our mistakes and stop them happening again. I have also designed baggage handling systems at airports to get your bags to the plane faster and cheaper and make your holidays less stressful! I now design implants to reduce pain and improve quality of life for people with long term illnesses.

      So you can see our designs have a big impact on society but also the money we generate for the country. A fifth of all the money made in the UK is made by engineering companies. That is a LOT of money!! We desperately need more engineers in the UK to meet the needs of those companies. Engineers are in demand right now!

      I hope that helps. Feel free to ask anymore questions you have about engineers!

    • Photo: Louise France

      Louise France answered on 9 Mar 2015:

      That is an excellent question, and I don’t think there is one specific answer as engineering is such a HUGE subject that you couldn’t possibly cover it all even if you tried really hard – that’s why we specialise in medical / automotive/ aeronautical /product design / etc…

      Broadly speaking, engineers bring many scientific principles and skills together to benefit society. It’s all about coming up with solutions to problems that can make life easier or better! Being a medical engineer, its my job to provide solutions that can either make people better, or improve their quality of life.

      ‘Engineering’ isnt a subject on its own, its a combination of maths, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, design and technology, business management, law..the list is huge! This doesn’t mean you need to be really good at all these topics as you learn a lot along the way!

    • Photo: Rachel Pallan

      Rachel Pallan answered on 10 Mar 2015:

      Engineering as a whole is problem solving – finding something that doesn’t work, working out why it doesn’t work and coming up with a solution to make it work. Some engineers are involved in the whole process or for bigger problems engineers can work on one area of this.

      There are also lots of different types of engineers which do different jobs. There are mechanical (engines), civil (structures), electrical, chemical, biological and many more so depending on what type of engineer they are depends on the area you work on.

      For my biomedical engineering I do a lot of dissection (as I work with the body). I look at cells and structures that make up parts of the body under a microscope (the biology side) as well as the strength of parts of the body (the mechanical side).

    • Photo: Billy Hicks

      Billy Hicks answered on 17 Mar 2015:

      I have to agree with the others. Engineers are here to solve problems which ultimately help people! It a great feeling knowing the work you are doing is going to help someone or improve their quality of life.

      As a chemical engineer working in a pharmaceutical company I look at the scale up of the manufacture of drugs. This means trying to find where there might be problems going from a chemical reaction you can do in a chemistry lab to something you do in a much larger manufacturing plant. Often the biggest problem is mixing. (think about stirring some sugar or milk in a cup of tea, it’s fine when it is just the size of a cup but imagine if your cup is as big as a car- you can’t just use a really big spoon!)

      Other chemical engineers also work in the oil and gas industry, so recover oil from underground and purify it through distillation to get oils which can be used in plastics and petrol amongst other things.