5 Skills That Engineering School Doesn’t Teach But You Need to Learn

Disclaimer: This is rehashed from an article I wrote in July 2017 for GineersNow. Some parts are added or edited for clarity.

If you think graduating in engineering school is enough in order to be successful in your field, think again.

There are equally important things never taught in college that you need to learn in order to become a good engineer, to say the least. To become successful is another thing when you eventually mastered all the skills.

The primary goal of your engineering school is to provide you with technical knowledge and skills. All the necessary theories and practices in your field are studied so you could apply them in the real world later.

But more often than not, engineering schools fall short in molding the engineer to become a well-rounded employee. It takes more than just learning engineering to become an efficient and effective engineer. Relevant skills that need to be learned are almost never taught in college, like the following:

“Sales talking” or your ability to get people to listen to you

Having a billion-dollar idea that will significantly change the world but unable to convey it properly to others will just go down the drain or end up stolen by others without the credit. Look what happened to Nikola Tesla, taken advantage by Thomas Edison.

Engineers should know how to sales talk to properly exchange information and explain an important idea. This is a skill that is most valued when engineers have clients to attend to. It’s also not just about being able to talk but to communicate.

“Graphic design” or your ability to make stuff look nice

Sometimes, the talk just won’t do – engineers have to show and tell.

Imagine having a presentation with only you talking over the microphone with no visual aids at all, say a Powerpoint, to discuss how a system or design works. Of course, the tendency of your audience is to get bored. This is where visual communication comes in: it enables presentation of ideas to be more engaging. It is a discipline that captures human attention through the eyes, and engineers are bound to learn that. You don’t have to know advanced graphic design, the basic would do.

“Business training” or your ability to negotiate and resolve oppositional situations

Engineers may know everything technical about a certain project, but others will take a look at it and suggest something else for a bargain. It is the job of the engineer to explain, moreover negotiate, and find common ground. You should identify which areas are okay to compromise and not so both sides can settle. The lack of this skill will cost you so much if not the entire project.

“Art class” or your ability to draw

It’s a universal perception that all engineers must be good at drawing. This cannot be true, because I suck at drawing myself – but engineers are inclined to have a certain level of skill in drawing. Being an artist (of your own right) can be learned like writing, so engineers only need to practice.

This skill allows you to properly convey immediate information through illustrating, like when you are asked to elaborate a diagram or system on paper. A messy drawing will only yield more confusion so better brush up on your drawing skills.

“Finance” or your ability to know money matters

Every engineering project involves cost. Which is why engineers are required to be knowledgeable about this.

There are courses that teach this in college but not in detail. You are bound to learn about money matters yourself, starting on salary income, taxes, loans, insurance, credits, and others.

If only institutions have courses designed to cater to these five skills, engineers would not have a rough first year with their career. But that’s how it works for now. We all have to live with it.

Source: Engineer Blogs

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