4 things to consider when studying engineering at university
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4 things to consider when studying engineering at university

From designing aerospace vehicles to testing explosives and propellants, engineering is a field that is as broad as it is exciting. As technology develops, so too do our expectations: we want to travel faster; communicate more efficiently; take bigger risks; all the while being more environmentally conscious and in tune with increasingly important sustainability issues.  For this reason, despite functions in different economies and employment rates, engineers will always be needed.

Being trained in a specialty field also helps to ensure higher paid jobs – the average Australian income in 2014 was $76,700 AUD per year according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, whereas the average income for an engineer was $129,786 AUD.  Graduate salaries are high, too with the average mechanical engineering graduate on $62,000 AUD, 18% higher than other graduates under 25.  These figures are reflected all over the world – engineers are highly sought after, well-respected members of the professional community. However before venturing into an engineering pathway you should consider the following areas:

1. Choosing the right engineering degree: First, students have to have a fairly clear idea as to what field of engineering they want to pursue. It is no good enrolling in a civil engineering degree, only to decide later on that your passion actually lies in nuclear or nano-engineering. A good university should help you decide what branch of engineering suits you best, so it is important to speak to as many universities and advisers as possible before making your decision.

Traditionally, the most popular engineering branches have been civil (jobs include: designing, constructing and maintaining structures like roads, dams, bridges and buildings), mechanical (jobs include: aerospace, biomedical, and robotic mechanics), electrical (jobs include: working in various power stations, working with medical equipment like MRIs, create products for cars, robots, mobile, phones etc.) and chemical engineering (jobs include: research and development into new processes and designs). Recently, other fields, like environmental, mechatronic and nuclear engineering have also become quite popular as our wants, needs and technologies evolve. These interdisciplinary branches of engineering will require students to study basic elements of more traditional engineering fields, too.

Sustainable infrastructure is one of the most important emerging fields of engineering. Bringing together several aspects of engineering specialisms, the study of sustainability in infrastructure gives students a range of skills across the board and helps prepare graduates to tackle environmental and rising population issues. Infrastructure affects access to clean water, sanitation, energy and transportation, and the provision of this is an urgent and ongoing global requirement. This ultimately means that by studying sustainability and infrastructure students can not only help ensure a future for others, but also help ensure their success in their careers as indespensible experts in an increasingly important field.

2. Be prepared to work hard: With so many advantages to studying engineering, the task of choosing a good university, especially away from home, can be a daunting one. Engineering is a notoriously difficult and labor-intensive degree: it is not uncommon for students to spend 30 – 40 hours a week in classes alone, not including studying and researching outside class hours. So before throwing yourself into the deep end, there are a few things you should consider.

3. Think about where to start looking for work after graduating: Studying engineering overseas, as an international student, can be quite beneficial, too. Many students are naturally exposed to the very best in numerous fields of engineering, in their day-to-day lives back home. South America has for some time now been working to deal with a rising population, with increasing needs for transport links, demands for responsible energy usage and environmental concerns. For this reason engineers with specialisms in sustainability and infrastructure are becoming more and more in demand, and these professionals are seeing many opportunities to choose where they work between a number of different countries in South America that are involved in exploring solutions to these demands.

4. Enjoy your degree: When deciding on a university, students should also consider what kind of extra-curricular societies and opportunities the university offers. Engineering is a very hands-on field, and while there will be practical class work, joining clubs or organizations are excellent ways to network and hone your skills. Be it designing and building a race car or traveling to developing nations to make solar-powered ovens and bike-wheel water wells, engineering students should always keep an eye out for how their university can help them have fun while becoming a better engineer.

Although it is an intimidating degree, a Bachelor of Engineering is a pathway that is well worthwhile. Engineering is an industry that touches people in more ways than they could imagine: it is the silent but powerful force that pushes people, industries and technologies into the future more than any other.

Read on for more information on some of the world’s top universities, offering leading engineering courses:

The University of Western Sydney (UWS) is ranked in the top 2 per cent of universities worldwide and is one of the world’s top 60 young universities.  The University’s place is at the leading edge of knowledge, providing a contemporary education that builds successful lives and careers for students and graduates.  Conducting research in areas of national excellence, UWS provides a rich and stimulating research environment for both academics and students. UWS School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics (SCEM) is known for its transdisciplinary learning and research environment, fusing the core drivers of technological innovation and entrepreneurship – interdisciplinary engineering, computing, industrial design, mathematics and built environment. Read the full profile…

Curtin University is place of inspiration and innovation. Located in Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, it is home to curious minds, staff and students alike, who work together to make tomorrow better. As Western Australia’s largest university, and with campuses in Sydney, Singapore and Malaysia, Curtin is providing world-standard education to more than 50,000 students, 16,000 of whom are international. Curtin’s Faculty of Science and Engineering offers a range of science and engineering programs, providing the knowledge and practical, real-world skills that are needed to engineer a better future. The engineering courses cover a range of specialities, including civil, mechanical, chemical, petroleum, electrical and mining engineering, and are offered at undergraduate, certificate, diploma, master and doctorate level. Read the full profile…

The University of Dundee has an international reputation which attracts top-class students and academics from all over the world – more than 100 countries are represented in the student community. Innovative – and often world-leading – research into a wide range of disciplines takes place at the University, with pioneering post-graduate programmes enabling graduates to move to the next level. The School of Engineering, Physics and Mathematics (EPM) is dedicated to promoting academic excellence and preparing students for rewarding and successful careers. Graduates from the School are highly sought-after by leading employers; alumni have gone on to work for industry leaders across the globe. Engineering at EPM opens the door to a wide range of careers by mixing traditional core engineering principles with emerging technology.

Oxford Brookes University was founded in Oxford, England in 1865, and it has grown into one of the UK’s leading modern universities. Innovation is the cornerstone of the educational process here, and students are encouraged to expand their academic curiosity, experiment and take risks. The Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment at Oxford Brookes University has an international reputation for excellence, innovation and an ambitious desire to be recognised as one of the most exciting places to study in the world.

Charles Darwin University (CDU) is a dynamic and youthful university, located in the most northerly region of Australia, one of the oldest and most biologically diverse landscapes on the planet. With a student population of 22,000, including 1,500 international students, CDU has campuses throughout the Northern Territory of Australia, combining friendly neighbourhoods with vibrant multicultural city experiences. CDU is a research intensive university, ranked in the top 2% of the world’s universities and in the top 100 universities in the world under 50 years old (Times Higher Education 2014). Students are thoroughly encouraged to be involved in CDU’s world-class research, with honours courses within the Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science and the Environment providing students with opportunities to carry out in-depth research into a topic of their choice.