Choosing the right field, specialization for a promising career in engineering

IF there’s a career that has remained enduring through the years, it’s engineering.

Engineers are relied upon by industries to develop innovations, systems, and products, so they’re always in demand—especially with the march of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The collaborative research of the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies even forecasts that the country will need 1.8 million engineers by 2025.

Dr. Francis Aldrine A. Uy, Mapúa University’s dean of the School of Civil, Environmental and Geological Engineering, said that engineers are in demand because they create innovations crucial for industries to survive.

“Due to continuing development and change, the engineers’ work will never end, as it is part of humans’ journey to the future,” Dr. Uy stated.

Its longevity as well as financial and professional rewards have made engineering a popular college degree. The question is, which engineering field should one choose?

President and CEO Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea of Mapúa, an engineer himself, emphasized that students should pick an engineering track aligned with their interests and pursuits. This strategy ensures their thirst for knowledge and endurance will help them surmount hurdles during their studies and career.

“If one is interested, he is motivated. He will feel satisfied, fulfilled, and perhaps even happy as he takes the courses in engineering, which are considered very challenging,” explained Dr. Vea. 

Of course, the first step toward arriving at a decision would be to acquaint oneself with its different branches. Most popular are Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. Other fields are offshoots or subbranches of core specializations, or blends of engineering and non-engineering fields, such as Biological Engineering.

Course offerings

ONE that has a very wide scope is Mechanical Engineering, which focuses on all stages of product development: from research and design, to manufacturing and testing. Most mechanical engineers work in just about any industry worldwide: energy and power, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, automotive, manufacturing, construction, robotics, nanotechnology, and biomechanics. Students who take up this course learn about statics and dynamics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, stress analysis, technical drawing, and mechanical design.

Civil Engineering, meanwhile, involves designing and creating infrastructures like buildings, bridges, roads and public-transport systems, commercial structures, and other projects. Aspirants should have a knack for designing and building things, and be interested in mechanics, materials science, hydraulics, and geotechnics.

Budding engineers keen with electricity, circuitry, and power generation have a plus in Electrical Engineering. It oversees the production, delivery, and energy sustainability. Electronics engineers also play a key role in industries, as their exciting nature of work involves the whole pipeline of developing integrated circuits and systems, telecommunication technologies, and other communication and network systems.

Computer Engineering is also a promising degree to pursue for the career opportunities it offers. Computer engineers devise and maintain system hardware such as computer components, create applications for software programs, and all other related technical and creative attributes using machine-level and high-level modern computer systems, equipment, and languages.

Those inclined on systems and process efficiencies will likely thrive in Industrial Engineering. It deals with production efficiency and systems optimization of enterprises, production floors, financial processes, and management.

Would-be engineers with analytical mindsets and a bent toward chemistry and life sciences should consider enrolling in Chemical Engineering. Its practitioners use physical, chemical, and biological basics; physics; mathematics and economics to develop and optimize processes for the production of fuels, petrochemicals, chemicals , food, pharmaceuticals, and other commodities needed in everyday life.

Attitude and motivation

ON top of matching their interests and strengths to various engineering fields, incoming students should talk to people in the industry to gain insights if the degree and career they are eyeing are meant for them. 

Dr. Uy asserted that: “Academic records are a good basis, but they are not everything. I assess students more based on their attitude and motivation. I believe everyone has the capacity to learn, but not at the same time and in the same way.”

He furthered: “As long as a person believes in himself [or herself], and has great motivation, he [or she] can become an engineer. Engineering practice is determined more by a person’s attitude, as much as…academic records.”

Mapúa is first in Southeast Asia to receive accreditation for its engineering programs from the United States-based Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. (ABET). Its accreditation provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates (www.abet.org).

To date, ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission recognize 11 of Mapúa’s engineering courses: Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Environmental and Sanitary Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.