Professional Engineering Activities
As a professional engineer, you are a designer, a manager, an investigator, an innovator and a scientist all rolled into one. Every day, every project will be different. You have the ability to develop your own approach to projects and see the success of your labours. Being a professional engineer is certainly diverse and intellectually rewarding.
- The engineer as a designer: When an engineering product is to be created it is first designed so as to be represented as information in the form of: drawings of its geometrical properties, material specifications, mathematical models to predict behaviour, etc.
- The engineer as a manager: Management is not just about directing other people in their work, it involves defining and controlling of processes. Professional engineers often move into roles that are dominated by management issues, leading teams, controlling projects.
- The engineer as an investigator: Investigation involves consideration of the condition of existing things. For example a bridge designer must know what the condition of the ground will be for the foundations. Without good information of this type the success of any project is compromised.
- The engineer as an innovator. An engineer has an idea or is given a brief by a client to achieve something that has never been done before. The outcome is uncertain; there are risks, especially financial risks. But the risks are weighed; decisions are taken in the face of deficient information. The hallmark of the successful professional engineer is the ability to consistently make good decisions in such contexts.
- The engineer as an applied scientist. An important activity in engineering design is the application of science to predict the behaviour of the products being designed. Professional engineers need to be able to take science to the limits of its usefulness.
Professional engineers operate in two types of context:
- Technical contexts where known science and rules can be applied to achieve results in which the confidence of success is high.
- Uncertain contexts where, because precedents are lacking, outcomes are not guaranteed.
Intellectual ability of the highest order is required to continually make good decisions in contexts which combine these features. The work of a professional engineer is therefore diverse and intellectually challenging.