The lesson that every engineering graduate quickly learns after graduating college is that despite being educated for years on engineering theories and practices, they are ill prepared for the real world. In order to smoothly transition into the practical, here are a few tips every engineering student should ponder.
Tip #1 - At a Minimum, Learn Python
We live in a digital world controlled by software. Software drives everything in our modern world and every engineer whether your expertise is electrical, industrial, mechanical, or sanitary should understand programming language fundamentals. There are times when something needs to be automated or test data needs to be analyzed where knowing how to write a few lines of code can make the job orders of magnitude easier. A great cross platform and easy-to-learn language is Python and a great language for those engineers looking to round out their skills in the pragmatic.
Tip #2 - Take a Business Course
Once an engineer, not always an engineer. We often start our careers on the front lines; developing, designing, programming, testing, and so on. For many engineers, their careers quickly take a turn into project management, marketing, and sometimes even running a business. The problem is that engineers aren't taught these skills in the standard engineering curriculum. Taking a course on business or marketing can give engineers insights into how their employers businesses operate and provide the skills they need further into their careers.
Tip #3 - Get Hands-On
Hands-on, practical experience will trump theory any day. Understanding the theory for how a UART works and actually making it communicate are two totally different animals. Engineering students need to get hands-on by experimenting, developing, and playing with the technologies that they will one day be using in industry. Embedded developers can easily purchase a low-cost development kit and write code. Electrical engineers can design circuits and PCBs using freely available software and practice soldering surface mount components. Mechanical engineers can use freely available CAD software and then use a 3D printer to test their design. The possibilities are endless and make great examples to show and tell during interviews.
Firmware for Embedded Systems. Jacob Beningo will be leading sessions on HAL design for MCUs, real-time software using Micro Python, and how to create an IoT device in 45 minutes — all happening at the Embedded Systems Conference , Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News ’ parent company, UBM.
Tip #4 - Speak, Write, and Get Comfortable
Engineers don't need speaking, writing, or presentation skills. Wrong! Just because engineers are designing and building things doesn't mean they will never have to give a presentation or speech. It doesn't mean they won't have to write an engineering report or analysis. Speaking, writing, and presenting are all skills engineers must have to be successful so get comfortable with the idea and take a class or two if needed.
Tip #5 - Diversify Internships
The sooner an engineering student can get involved in internships, the better. Internships provide real-world experience and also allow