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Engineering is a professional field that deals with the application of mathematical knowledge and sciences in development of various types of items that maximize the utility of available economic resources as well as other forces of nature. There are numerous changes in technology in our society that calls for major reforms in engineering education. Is our education system producing professionals in consistence to these reforms? This article focuses on the challenges facing engineering as a profession, how to produce good engineers in institutions and the knowledge they should be equipped with.

In the last two decades, there have been numerous changes in the field of engineering. These changes have led to the need of reforming the engineering education in our institutions. This led to the creation of Olin College by the F.W. Olin Foundation. The practice of engineering dates back before the cold war. However, since the end of the cold war, there has been advancement and numerous changes in the field of engineering. During the cold war, defense departments were basically, using engineering practices only. Contrary to today’s engineering, engineering firms at the period of the cold war marketed their products to the federal government (Beakley & Leach 612). The firms, unlike today, were not concerned about other potential consumers of the products. Many engineering students focused on high technology innovations. However, these innovations were limited in scope and thus many were unsuccessful. For instance, the focus on high technology led to engineers trying to land on the moon. This was an act of showing prowess in technological advancement between the Americans and the Russians.  This act of sending a man to the moon was not grounded to any beneficial returns. During the period, ideas were highly confidential and thus students and engineering professions could not exchange ideas and lacked good business relationship with foreigners. This was due to much focus on security at the time (Nayler 56).

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After the end of cold war, the world has experienced dramatic changes in the field of engineering. For instance, the Boeing 777 aircraft was developed after the cold war. This was a great success, which did not only lead to interaction among nations but also changed the focus from defense to the production of commercial aircrafts. The innovation of Boeing 777 led to much research in order to beat competition in designing and building a jetliner. Much investment was put in computer simulation technology, which was not only capable of designing but also simulating the behavior of a jetliner. This advancement in technology had a potential benefit such as reducing the cost of making a prototype. Partnership of foreign firms was also enhanced. For instance, Boeing 777 developers collaborated with Asian and European firms where they exchanged their daily progress over the internet. This enabled them to work throughout the day for 24 hours without rest. By so doing, the design of 777 was done within a short period. The design was also much cheaper than that of their competitors (Hoover & Fish 287).

Reflecting on the success of Boeing, many lessons can be drawn from partnership and sharing of ideas. There is a need of changing the engineering education system in the world today. Students from different parts of the world should be allowed to interact and share ideas among themselves. Engineering calls for teamwork among those seeking to innovate or develop an idea. Also, good communication skills are also essential in order to exchange ideas much more easily. In addition, an engineer should be well competent with basic business principles in order to focus in innovations, which could be commercialized.

Diversity in engineering is also crucial. Many engineers are well competent in there line of specialization only but lack knowledge in other areas such as the nature of business and in communication. In addition, many engineers lack the knowledge in design processes and manufacturing processes (Kemper 102).

According to Accreditation Board for engineering and Technology (ABET), a graduate engineer should be able to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering in the field. In addition, he/she should be able to conduct experiments, perform data analysis and interpret the data, be able to formulate and solve engineering problems, understand the engineering profession ethical responsibility, be able to communicate effectively and be eager to learn through experience due to changes in technological advancement (Hill 74).

In conclusion, engineering graduates needs to be well prepared and informed about todays engineering workplaces. Although many institution do provide a good education on technical aspect of engineering, they do not focus on other areas such as communication competence, ethics and professionalism. In addition, many engineers are not informed on the importance of sustainable development and teamwork. Many do not focus on quality and the customers need because of insufficient knowledge in non-technological areas. In this century, institutions should help academia understand the escalating changes in industries and their relationship to sustainable business practice. Industries should support research in technology together with their environmental implication. We should focus on developing engineering programs that would bring a balanced perspectives in engineering via the eco-efficiency paradigm, environmentally smart, life-cycle design for competitive advantage.

Engineering professions should be able to employ creative and critical thinking skills while on the field. The 21st century is characterized by an increasingly global marketplace and thus engineering graduates are expected to work on multinational teams, have a global perspective, and be culturally and linguistically literate. They must possess communication skills to interact effectively in the community and within their professional. Ethical issues are also an area of much focus in engineering. Thus, engineers must have the strong ethical foundation since they will need to deal with issues involving equitable distribution of resources, sustainable development, and environmental conservation (Solberg 98). In addition, they need to be familiar with business aspects of engineering solutions and their social impact and have a foundation in best business practices and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.

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