More and more people are choosing to study engineering—and with good reason. Engineering not only provides graduates with important life skills, but it also opens doors to a long-term, lucrative career. On a personal level, engineers have in-depth analytical and practical knowledge, and on a professional level, they can earn competitive salaries and greater job security when compared to other industries.
Engineers will always be in demand too, especially in the current digital transformation era where the world needs more people to invent, design, and service machines, data systems, and other structures. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 140,000 engineering jobs will be created between 2016 and 2026.
In a time where economic uncertainty and mass layoffs have become commonplace, studying engineering is a smart investment as the world shifts toward value-driven work. Below, with the help of two Sphero engineers, Kaushik Ramini and Brian Selle, we break down the benefits of entering the engineering space, and why starting from a young age can provide a positive impact.
The Benefits of Studying Engineering
There are plenty of reasons to study engineering. Perhaps the most attractive reason to study engineering, however, is the salary. Engineers have the highest average starting salary in the United States and a median annual wage of $100,0640. Considering engineering employment is set to grow, engineers have more positions to choose from, as well as longer-term work security.
Engineering is also one of the most intellectually-stimulating subjects—whether electrical, mechanical, chemical, or civil engineering, engineering students learn how to identify problems, build creative solutions, and contribute to real-world infrastructure that improves people’s lives.
This type of engagement prepares engineering students for the future because they have the ability to be proactive in the face of obstacles. They constantly look to find resolutions that serve the most people and do so by thinking outside of the box. Additionally, people tend to trust engineers and their recommendations because they are trained to work in an ethical and safe manner.
The high standards and agility of engineers also mean that they can enjoy a wide range of career opportunities. For example, depending on what type of engineering they study, an engineer could choose to program machines, construct skyscrapers, oversee public works, or develop life-saving vaccines. The scope of projects and outcomes is huge, and very few other fields of study have the same diversity of positions available.
Sphero’s Senior Software Developer Brian Selle agrees, “In my experience, my fellow students that all graduated with the same degree (Aerospace Engineering) got jobs doing vastly different jobs!”
Likewise, because engineers are needed all over the world, engineers can seize opportunities to train and work abroad, tapping into new cultures, tools, and some of the most cutting-edge innovations.
Why Engineering is a Great Career Path for Kids
“An engineer” may not be kids’ initial response to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, but it’s very valuable to start studying engineering from a young age.
Kids are natural experimenters and engineering allows them to explore while learning. And, through both project-based and hands-on activities, engineering acts as the bridge between school and the world around them. It teaches kids to think critically and encourages them to realize that they have the potential to make positive changes in their environments.
Engineering equally fosters collaboration. Kids adapt to completing tasks with their peers, listening to others’ suggestions, and realizing that the most effective solutions come from a team. At the same time, they individually cultivate skills that can apply to other subjects like science and math.
Another great characteristic of engineering is that it’s constantly evolving. For children who need variety, engineering as a vertical naturally integrates new technology. The likes of artificial intelligence, drones, remote sensors, 3D printing, IoT, and big data are already in the sector, and kids who show an interest in engineering will have the advantage of being familiar with these complex practices early on.
Engineering is an internationally-recognized profession, so kids who grow up and want the chance to study or work overseas can easily do so as an engineer. Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan, and India are just some of the top destinations for engineers. Not only does engineering push kids to expand how they think and apply information, but it also enables them to have multicultural experiences. Even those who choose not to leave the States are very likely to have coworkers from around the world.
More than ever, young workers say that they want to pursue careers with a higher purpose—engineering can offer just that. The Covid-19 pandemic was a clear example, as engineers rallied to design PPE, vaccines, medical equipment, and technology to report and track the spread of the virus. Engineers played an essential role in saving lives and supporting the general public through the global crisis. Looking forward, engineers will be at the forefront of emerging tech that will help our planet and society.
Kaushik Ramini a mechanical engineer at Sphero—who says he became an engineer because of a lifelong obsession with the question “How?”—admits the journey won’t always be easy but it will always be rewarding. “The worst part of studying engineering is the journey to the ‘aha’ moment, where nothing makes sense until everything does all at once. The journey never becomes easy, but it definitely becomes less painful over time (kind of like a crossword).”
How to Encourage Kids to Pursue Engineering
Engineering isn’t all equations and measurements, it can be a fun, interactive subject that kids may naturally want to pursue. The best way to get kids involved in engineering is to expose them to concepts as soon as possible. Engineering camps are ideal as they’re a place for kids to socialize and get sucked into STEM programs. Here, they can also get to grips with engineering devices and associate engineering tasks through play.
If there aren’t engineering camps available, after-school programs with an engineering focus are worthwhile—the main idea is to enroll kids in regular activities that nurture their engineering skills. Science fairs, coding clubs, and green initiatives are all good routes.
Along the way, bring real-world examples of engineering into interactions with kids. For instance, talk about a new roller coaster that has been built, read the news for stories about engineering experiments, or find an interactive lab where engineers work.
Kids also need hands-on experience with engineering. If local school programs don’t exist, try advocating for your community to start one. Brian, who is a “huge believer” in robotics programs suggests to, “get your parents or crazy uncle to help start one.”
Aspiring engineers should be encouraged to take part in activities at home and in the classroom like building simple machines with modular parts or brainstorming the design of the next major skyscraper. There’s literally no limit to what the context for the activity can be—the more creative, the better—but the focus should be on kids using physical materials to visualize their plan and explaining why they’ve made certain decisions.
Whatever paths children take to discover engineering, they should be able to build freely and without judgment. There’s no right or wrong approach for kids when they’re starting to explore engineering. Kids should be asked questions like “why have you put that there?”, “what happens if X changes”, and “what will you need to build this?” to keep them curious and conscious of their engineering decisions.
If possible, an engineering mentor should support children on their engineering journey. This could be someone who is a qualified engineer and can offer advice about what to specialize in or someone who can provide feedback on kids’ projects.
Engineering a New Future
Kaushik sums up nicely the benefits of becoming an engineer, “On the surface, an excellent engineer can develop ingenious solutions to technical and non-technical problems, but that’s just a byproduct of what great engineers are actually good at — learning. Being able to constantly absorb information, ask the right questions, and think critically leads to becoming a great engineer.”
To be succinct, engineering helps society advance. It lets humans overcome challenges and realize improved ways of living and working. The people behind engineering, therefore, drive progress and are held in high regard, which translates into well-paid jobs, the flexibility to join novel projects, and the world’s most innovative tech put at engineers’ fingertips.
Sounds cool? It is. And kids who hop on the engineering train from a young age are bound to have a number of adventures in their careers and life.
Start your kids’ journey today. Browse Sphero Blueprint, the all new modular engineering education system for kids and teens.