Things you probably didn’t know about engineers

By Anthony Johnson

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Engineers solve problems.

Did you know the word “engineer” comes from a Latin word meaning cleverness?

Engineers learn how things work, solve problems, and you use their deep knowledge to create solutions that enhance—and even save—lives.

The field changes rapidly, especially in the Digital Age, providing new opportunities for engineers to grow professionally, be creative, and make a difference in the world. For these and other reasons, many engineers wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.

As Professor John Hennessy, President of Stanford University, notes, “engineers solve problems. They do so through the creation and deployment of new knowledge and technologies to create cost-effective solutions, often to the most demanding problems the world faces.”

Engineers shape our future.

The world is in the middle of an era of unprecedented change. In this world, engineers have some of the highest job security of any profession. And that is both exciting and challenging.

Governments face many pressing issues, from delivering a zero-carbon economy to addressing the issues created by population growth and urbanization.

For many businesses, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is providing new opportunities to develop innovative products that will work for the good of all.

It is important to recognize that there is no cure-all fix that will resolve the problems we face. Rather, it’s many solutions and clever minds working together that’ll enable sustained change. Uncovering practical, realistic solutions requires a firm focus on science-led engineering, hard work and an appreciation of facts.

Engineers make the world happy, healthy and safe.

While some people study engineering who might have been better at something else, many people who could make good engineers miss the opportunity because they don’t know what engineers do.

Engineers love to solve big problems. They get turned on by engineering challenges to world issues, not just technological issues.

Semiconductor processing, for example, is highly populated by electrical engineers, but its basis is in physics and chemistry. Other areas include optics (as applied to communications), aerospace engineering, and even life sciences. Many people don’t realize that a lot of biomedical devices are actually just electrical devices that can be designed by any electrical engineer. Engineers work on everything from drones and theme parks, to running shoes and special effects for movies.

The future of our world, and the solutions that spur happiness, health and safety, depend on the young minds considering technical careers, their teachers and mentors, and the industry leaders who work with the academic community.

Engineers take humanity further.

All over the world, engineering holds the key to human progress. Yet, while recognising the sector’s role in powering innovation and creating today’s technology-based society, the world is also looking to engineers to do more when it comes to solving the planet’s most pressing problems. Engineers could and should lead the way in building a better, more sustainable world of tomorrow in areas like renewable energy, transport infrastructure, healthcare, reducing social inequality, and data security.

The good news is that it can be done. Professor Choon Fong Shih (National University of Singapore) notes, “one of the most encouraging findings of the QEPrize Create the Future Report is its highlighting of the faith the general public place in engineers and engineering to deliver changes which will be of great benefit to society. As engineers we must all be mindful of this responsibility. People are looking to us to solve the world’s problems.”

People are united in their respect for the engineering sector’s positive influence on society in the past. 9 in 10 people believe engineering can provide solutions to the environmental, social and infrastructure challenges of the future, as shown in the table below by World Economic Forum (2018).


Source: Create the Future Report, World Economic Forum (2018)

While the current role of engineering is seen as inspiring new innovations, people are calling for a drastic shift in focus, with “solving the world’s problems” moving from 7th place in roles for engineering in the present, to 1st place for roles for engineering in the future.

There is faith in engineering to solve the world’s problems. And there is particular faith in engineering in solving environmental and infrastructure challenges. Professor Juergen Maier, Chief Executive of Siemens Pic writes, “I passionately believe that engineering holds the key to a better tomorrow. To see people’s faith in innovation and engineering as the future number one driver to solving the world’s problems is inspiring and also challenging.”

Within the next 20 years, people want to see engineering improve energy and healthcare. Bob Dudley, Chief Executive Officer at BP, highlights this critical need: “More energy is required to lift millions from poverty. Yet we need energy to have less environmental impact. Resolving that paradox is one of the great missions of this century.”

Globally, people are optimistic about what engineering can achieve in the next 20 years. 75 percent beleive engineering will improve renewable energy and advance computer technology. More than half think engineering will improve issues ranging from infrastructure challenges to healthcare to making agriculture more sustainable to addressing climate change.

It’s time to #ThinkLikeAnEngineer.

If you knew the things listed in this post already, good for you. Now go share them with people you know considering engineering as a profession.

And if you didn’t know, no need to worry. We’ve got you covered.

Discover how free Solid Edge software can help prepare future engineers.


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at