Why I love engineering: whether it's designing electric cars in the US, measuring ice melt in the arctic, or developing missile defence systems in the Middle East, I don't want to be anything other than an engineer.
By Rhys Bowley, applications engineering intern, National Instruments UK and Ireland.
I chose to study electronic engineering at Cardiff University and haven't looked back since. I would recommend engineering to anyone because of the immense number of opportunities that it makes available to them both during and after education. Engineers have the ability to work in any industry, alone in their sheds or as part of a global company with tens of thousands of employees, in any location worldwide. Technology is absolutely everywhere in our modern world and to be able to understand, create, fix or sell it is an extremely powerful skill.
Engineering is behind everything we do each day of our lives. From the alarm clock that wakes us, the bowl we ate breakfast from, the clean water we drank, the chair we sat on, the car or train (or even shoe) that got us to where we are now, to the computer or phone we have already used several times today. Because of this, being skilled in engineering allows me to go and find employment working in any industry I choose.
The greatest benefit of studying engineering at university was not, in fact, the technical know-how or equations, but learning how to approach, pull apart and solve a problem. After all, engineering is defined by many as the application of science and maths to solve problems in the real world. These problem solving skills open up all kinds of opportunities for engineering students. For example, several of my friends who studied engineering at university have gone on to become graphic designers, bankers, lawyers and one is even in training to be a surgeon!
I am now an applications engineer intern at National Instruments (NI), a world leader in computer based measurement and automation. This flexibility to go into any area of work after university was extremely important to me because I was wary of becoming too specialised and doing the exact same thing for the rest of my life. Working for a measurement and control company like NI means that no two weeks at work are ever the same.
Absolutely every engineer needs to measure real world phenomena in order to interact with the real world, and that means NI has worked on everything from measuring the noise of Boeing aircraft to controlling the particle beams at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
It's very exciting to be part of a new or growing industry, like communications or green engineering, and to see the break neck speed at which things develop and change. At NI I have recently been working with academics at Cambridge University who are writing a case study about their solar-panelled car, which they have raced 3,000km across Australia.
In communications engineering, the mobile phone revolutionised the way in which we communicate, use the Internet, take photographs and even shop. I cannot wait to find out what I will be able to do with my mobile phone next. Just as the technology in these areas develops each year, so do the job opportunities. Having qualifications in engineering means that you're very unlikely to struggle finding jobs, and more importantly, jobs that you'll enjoy.
In hindsight, technology just happened to be one of my many interests when I was younger. Even when deciding which subjects to carry forward at school, I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do for a career. I find this quite scary, and count myself very lucky that I took forward science and maths, and then chose engineering at university.
Now thankfully, whether it's designing electric sports cars in America, measuring ice melt in the arctic, or developing missile defence systems in the Middle East, I don't think I will ever want to work as anything other than an engineer for the rest of my life.