Top 10 traits of a successful engineer

Preparing for engineering? You should be capable of tackling complex technical challenges by inculcating certain key skills and qualities. Even today, engineering is still a highly sought-after career. Vast and dynamic, this field needs experts who have the ability to adapt to new challenges persistently. Listed below are the top 10 traits of a successful engineer:

1. Strong Analytical Skills: A successful engineer should have outstanding analytical skills to collect the right information and then assemble, visualise and investigate the information in details with the help of strategic thinking skills. Analytical skills also call for basic mathematical skills for comprehending and evaluating numerical data for making right decisions. Analytical skills not only enable engineers to consider a problem from different perspectives but also enable them to solve complicated problems in the most effective way. As an engineer, you should be naturally inquisitive and must have an inclination towards examining things persistently to find out improved technical methods.

2. Excellent Communication Skills: Besides technical proficiency, as a 21st century engineer, you should be able to write, speak, and communicate your ideas effectively for communicating your technical concepts clearly and efficiently to culturally and globally diverse teams consisting of engineers and the non-technical audience. Moreover, strong communication skills enable global engineers to eliminate all barriers arising out of cultural, linguistic, and technical differences.

3. Logical Reasoning and Creativity in Balance: One of the primary tasks of engineers is to identify and solve complex problems; therefore, engineers should be adept in logical reasoning skills such as hypothesising, inductive/ deductive reasoning, comparing, forecasting, classifying, critiquing, and so on. Additionally, engineers should be creative enough to come up with ground-breaking technical ideas. A balance in logic and creativity enables engineers to materialise their innovative ideas by linking knowledge from diverse areas for solving problems.

4. Problem-solving Skills: Problem-solving is one of the most important attributes of an engineer. The complexity of technical problems is increasing with time which requires engineers to apply logical thinking for problem-solving; thus, engineers need to be creative problem solvers. An engineer should approach each and every task at hand with an analytical mind so as to develop solutions that can meet all the requirements. Hence, problem-solving skills should be an integral part of engineering education.

5. Leadership and Teamwork in Balance: Since engineers have to work with diverse teams for the accomplishment of different complex projects, they need to have the ability to lead, follow and working collaboratively with their team. Efficient teamwork and leadership skills are the foundations of all technical operations, be it a maintenance team, project team, manufacturing cell, or product development team. Thus, a successful engineer needs to be a good team player and an effective leader for directing and influencing his fellow team members for a positive outcome.

Leadership qualities of a successful engineer include the ability to take initiatives, assessing risks, decision-making, the ability to relate to others, and willingness to deliver on time and focusing on the projects with discipline, and passion. It is the responsibility of engineering institutes to inculcate team spirit and leadership qualities in young engineers when assigning course projects to them.

6. Multi-disciplinary exposure: An engineer can become successful in his field only if he/she gets a multidisciplinary exposure. The challenges of the modern global marketplace make it imperative for engineers to work with an inter-disciplinary team of experts on technical projects involving multidisciplinary skills for creating sustainable solutions for the masses. For example, to accomplish a project pertaining to mobile technology, an electronics engineer needs to work collectively with user interface designers, project managers, computer engineers, etc. Having basic knowledge of these diverse divisions makes the work of engineers much easier. This is why engineering institutions are now embracing a multi-disciplinary approach to engineering education.

7. Passion for Learning: Successful engineers never presume that they know everything and have a constant passion for learning. Despite being proficient in their field, successful engineers always consider themselves as lifelong learners. Being good listeners, they have a propensity to learn from what is being said to them and apply the information at work.

We are living in a complex world with ever-increasing complicated engineering issues; consequently, technical knowledge is doubling-up at lightning speed. This requires engineers to adapt themselves to an environment of ever-changing trends and challenges. Lifelong learning is therefore, crucial for engineers as it keeps them aware of the latest developments in the field of engineering.

8. Enthusiasm and Motivation: A successful engineer is always enthusiastic and self-motivated to solve complex problems and make things work more efficiently. It is their relentless enthusiasm that motivates them to keep abreast of new research and ideas. It also motivates them to discover innovative concepts and work on them to upgrade the conventional technical processes. Self-motivated engineers take all possible measures to keep even the slightest error at bay and pay meticulous attention to detail for accomplishing each and every project assigned to them without a glitch.

9. Exposure to hands-on learning and practical knowledge: Being a practical discipline, an engineering curriculum is incomplete without practical knowledge and hands-on training. In order to create successful engineers, the key objective of engineering institutions should be to impart education both inside and outside the classroom so that the future engineers can build their practical knowledge. For example, internships during vacations, doing mini-projects that come under your preferred subject, doing your own experiments in your college lab, and participating in workshops can go a long way in getting you first-hand practical knowledge.

10. Accessibility to Research & Development (R&D): R&D refers to the experimental activities conducted by faculty members of engineering institutions for developing innovative procedures or products. In order to be a successful engineer, you should have accessibility to R&D from the very first day of your engineering education.

Engineering institutions should encourage students to actively participate in R&D as it is a great way of sharing knowledge and expertise. R&D allows budding engineers to apply their knowledge and proficiency for sparking incredible innovation in their respective fields of study. Moreover, exposure to R&D can prove very stimulating for potential engineers as it helps them receive practical knowledge from experienced engineers and veteran scientists.

These are the key characteristics that can make you a successful engineer. Inculcating these traits will no doubt, take considerable time. Nevertheless, you should aim at obtaining each one of these desirable attributes and imbibe them with utmost dedication and sincerity. Engineering institutions should also gear up to cultivate these traits in engineering students so that they can stand out and succeed as global engineers of tomorrow.

“The author isDr. M.B. Srinivas , dean – School of Engineering and Technology, BML Munjal University”.

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