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What skills do I need to develop to become an effective engineer?

There are many qualities and skills an individual needs to become an effective engineer and to have a successful career.  Engineering is dynamic so it needs people who can work across disciplines, with others, and continually adapt to new challenges. 

Good technical skills are of course also essential. In preparation for an engineering career you should focus on developing a variety of skills, including:

Technical Competence:  The focus is on having the necessary technical skills and ability to carry out your job.  While an engineering education will provide the foundation of this knowledge, as technology is constantly advancing you will be expected continue to learn throughout your career. 

Communications Skills:  To be in effective engineer you must have the ability to communicate, both in writing and orally.  Focus on your writing skills, consider  developing a competency in a second language and also develop your public speaking skills. A good communicator has influence and most importantly, gets noticed. 

Leadership Skills:  Leadership is more than just the position you’re in, it’s about action.  An example where you will need leadership skills is during project management where you will need to plan, set priorities, delegate, make decisions and to influence people. To help you develop these skills get involved in a civic, school, professional or church group as a volunteer. 

Teamwork: To be an effective engineer you will need the ability to work in a team environment. Volunteer activities will also allow you to gain experience of team working.  Problem solving: As an engineer your job will be to come up with the answers and to do that you need the ability to think, to look at the issues and come up with a solution.  Good engineers are therefore to be able to think critically, analyze options and to create great solutions to problems that they have not encountered before.

Summary: To be an effective engineer you don’t need to master each of these qualities and skills.  The successful engineer is well-rounded, with knowledge of the key skills and an ability to apply them when needed.  It will take effort on your part, but the fun is in the learning and the reward is accomplishing your tasks and seeing the impact your work will have on society.  

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