In this issue I will present to you an overview of the requirements and work that a person interested in following a career in Mechanical Engineering could follow.
Missed part 1? Catch it here: Engineering Disciplines
It’s important to firstly understand that there are typically three types of engineering qualifications, namely a fully-fledged degree (BSc or BEng) a post diploma degree (BTech) and a National Diploma (ND). Once a person with either of these qualifications enters the job market, they will be referred to as an engineer, a technologist or a technician respectively.
For the sake of this article I will refer to all of the qualifications as mechanical engineers but bear in mind that in reality, work load and remunerations for each of the qualifications differs drastically. An engineer may end up directing or managing mechanical projects, while the technologist might be on site managing a system of machinery and actually “swings the spanners.”
Let me define or present you with a universally accepted and publicised description of what a career in mechanical engineering looks like. Mechanical engineers design, implement, construct, install and maintain machines, machine components, and mechanical systems in various sectors of the economy. They apply principles of natural science and mechanics to advance mankind and improve and guard the safety of all.
Competencies of a Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical engineers must have the skill to see and interpret a drawing in 3D and have the skill to make difficult calculations. They should also have perseverance and patience. Engineers need to work at their projects with diligence as solutions do not always emerge after the first attempt. Projects can take years before they are finished.
A keenness for and an interest in experimenting, problem solving, designing and planning is crucial. Mechanical engineers must be prepared to take responsibility for their work and that of others as projects often involve large sums of money, as well as the safety of people. They must be persons who are very honest. In order to be promoted to management level the engineer must develop good leadership and co-ordinating skills. Engineers with good management skills can progress to the top positions in the company.
Qualifications to obtain
• B.Sc. Mechanical Engineering or B.Eng (Mechanical Engineering)
After obtaining a degree a period of two years practical training is required before a person may register as a professional engineer with the Engineering council of South Africa (ECSA)
• National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering degree in collaboration with Universities
During your term at university you should investigate the various engineering fields and discover one that you feel may suit your interests so that upon qualifying you know which field you should be pursuing. A newly qualified engineer that knows where he or she wants to go in terms of field of expertise is so much easier to work with and find employment for.
In the next instalment, we will discuss the various fields that you as a budding engineer can investigate while studying and what bodies an engineer can be affiliated with.