Why engineering matters

Engineering underpins human progress. Engineering is about the practical delivery of scientifically informed solutions for the great challenges and opportunities in a rapidly evolving world.

Engineers take scientific discoveries and apply them practically. Their work literally creates the fabric of society, whether the buildings we live and work in, the energy that powers our world or the transport networks that we use every day.

Engineering is so diverse, it is sometimes hard for the public to see a common thread between its feats. At one end of the scale, engineers are responsible the massive scale design and build of the Large Hadron Collider and, at the other, to the many applications of nano-technology. Engineering creates the breathtaking yet sustainable new buildings on the skylines of the worlds great cities as well as bringing clean water and sanitation to remote, impoverished villages. Then there is the communications revolution, creating a growing sense of world community, enabling billions of people to access information and services and forging new business opportunities.

So what must an engineer know and do in order to be effective and successful? The bedrock of engineering is the application of mathematical and physical theory. But engineering is far more than just about knowledge: an engineers core business is to turn theory into practice. As with medicine, engineering expertise only comes with practice, by means of exposure to real-world dilemmas and techniques for addressing them.

It is practice that enables an engineer to learn another crucial core skill – to think strategically about the whole picture while keeping an eye on the detail. This whole systems thinking is what allows an engineer to juggle the competing demands of a project, managing risks, controlling costs and keeping to time.