Wikipedia lists 30 different engineering jobs under its fields of engineering entry. It’s an
undeniable fact that much of our quality of life is the direct result of the men and women, past and present,
of the discipline of engineering. Nowadays, there are very few exceptions where an individual can go through an
entire day without using something that was designed by some sort of engineer.
If we take the word engineering to its very basic meaning and examine its ancient, now
obsolete, concept, it would become even more difficult to find any individual on Earth whose life isn’t
impacted by this fantastic profession.
The word was originated from the Latin word ingenium, which also originated the word
ingenious. In fact, in ancient times, the word engine referred to something that ingeniously made to solve a
problem or serve a purpose. In those days, the word was used mainly in connection with military
A lot of the inventions that the Ancients considered ingenious are considered simple and
taken for granted in today’s world. For example, think about the ratchet, the screw or the water wheel, there
are not very impressive by today’s standards.
But at the same time, the Egyptian, Mayan, Incan, and Aztec pyramids are easily argued to be
marvels of engineering. The Romans built paved roads to easily access distant parts of their empire and
aqueducts to distribute water. These concepts, though much improved by modern engineers, are still used in our
contemporary societies. But it was the invention of the steam engine that eventually led to the modern meaning
of the word engineer. It now applies to jobs that use a systematic approach to solving practical problems, and
science and maths are employed to achieve the ingenious.
The military connotation of the word was never lost, but the field of civil engineering
emerged as things like building and bridges started becoming more complex. As time went by and mankind’s rate
of technological advance increased, more fields were added to the discipline.
With such a long, rich history, and with such a tremendous impact on human existence,
there’s little doubt that engineering jobs will continue be an integral part of our society. But there has been
a problem in the UK in recent years: enrolment in university engineering courses dropped prior to 2007, but has
been increasing somewhat since then. And there is a skill shortage in the profession.
According to a report on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s website, the problem is mostly
with lower level courses that train engineering technicians. The academy’s report also points out the
engineering departments at some universities are under threat of closure or merger.
Higher educational institutions continue to face tight budget restraints, and many of them
seek to reduce costs by pulling resources away from degrees with higher overheads, such as engineering. The
report explained the UK is doing fine with its supply of degree, Masters Degree and PhD level engineers. But
about 71 percent of the current skills shortage is accounted for by vacancies in the engineering technician
The introduction to the RAEng’s document, which is in collaboration with seven other
engineering organizations, states the 21st century re-industrialisation and the hi-technology economy of the
future “will need government to provide incentives and support of a kind not seen in modern policymaking to
unlock investment from business and industry.”
It calls for new models of cooperation between industry, government and educators to
transform the politics of production. It identified five key priorities for government policy as well as
emphasized the need to recruit more women into engineering jobs.
Currently, only 12 percent of engineering graduates 2 percent of technician are women. But
as the UK’s economy recovers from the global recession and heads into the second decade of the 21st century,
the demand for technical and engineering jobs is forecast to increase considerably.
The full report can be found on the Royal Academy of Engineering website can be found at: http://www.raeng.org.uk/societygov/public_affairs/pdf/Manifesto.pdf