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 Tips for up and coming engineers

Let me start by saying that being an engineer is an incredibly rewarding yet demanding career choice.

As ‘corny’ as it sounds, you will make a real difference in people’s lives, and as cliché as this sounds, ‘engineers really do make ‘it’ happen’.

Unfortunately when you’re first starting out, it can be an incredibly daunting and frustrating time for a young engineer, so here are five tips for my ‘brethren’ beginning their engineering journey.

  1. For A Short Period of Time It’s Going To Hurt

Graduating with a degree in engineering is an accomplishment in and of itself. Unfortunately the reality is that your degree is essentially a piece of paper that verifies you know how to use a calculator and chew gum at the same time.

Of course I am being facetious, but the end of your degree is actually the first step on a very long road ahead. You need to accept that for the first three to five years you will be confused and shrouded in self-doubt, constantly second guessing yourself as you struggle to make sense of the monumental amount of information you will be asked to absorb and comprehend.

Fight through that self-doubt. You’re going to be fine.

Grit your teeth, keep your eyes and ears open, commit to your growth, focus on your development and absorb as much as you can as quickly as you can, and before you know it you will have set the foundations of your career.

  1. Site Experience, Site Experience, Site Experience

In case it wasn’t emphasised enough, you’ve got to get site experience. It is unbelievable how important working in the field can be. Get on site and get dirty. For the first six months to a year, work as a labourer if you must, it doesn’t matter, just get out there. Site work will give you incredible insight that an office environment simply can’t, plus it will enable you to think beyond the numbers and formulas and expose you to factors and parameters you won’t learn from a text book.

  1. A Strong Work Ethic Is Mandatory

As an engineer, you will encounter countless variations of never ending problems from demanding clients that set ‘yesterday’ deadlines in an industry where competition grows exponentially, thanks to the wonders of ever changing technology.

There is simply too much information to process, and of course there never is enough time, so believe me when I tell you that 9-5 won’t cut it. Success requires early starts and late finishes, so forget about looking at your watch and repeat this mantra over and over:

  1. Modern Tech is A Double Edge Sword So Measure Twice Cut Once

One of the great things about modern engineering is the vast number of advanced tools we have at our disposal. Computers and modern technology have allowed us to tackle complex problems, communicate big ideas and share results faster and more efficiently than ever before.

In fact this piece was typed on a laptop connected to the internet via my Australian mobile phone connected to the Chinese network whilst sitting in a bullet train travelling at 305km/hr heading to Shenzhen to meet with Chinese engineering colleagues to discuss new concrete and steel technology.

Unfortunately, surrounded by all the modern tools, an engineer can become lazy and too trusting of the solution on the screen. Whether it’s a complex FEM program or a simple spreadsheet, you must develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the input ‘language’ to properly interpret the output results.

Do not rush to the keyboard before first developing your understanding of engineering philosophy and a ‘feel’ for the numbers.

My advice is simple, respect technology, don’t be afraid to use it, but apply a healthy dose of scepticism when reviewing the output file, and if it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, then check it with a hand calculation. Then check it again.

  1. Money Money Money Money Money

Do not let money be the main factor which determines the course of your career, because when you’re starting out, you will not be impressed by your pay cheque.

Don’t worry about money during the early stages.

First choose the branch/sector of your engineering discipline which most interests you, then focus on developing your skills and technical abilities.

It’s no secret or special advice, love your job and it won’t feel like work, and before you know it your knowledge base and ‘abilities’ will start expanding exponentially and you will become more ‘valuable’ to an organisation.

That’s when you start seeing the bigger numbers and that’s when other options start to appear.

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Anglesey: UK’s first “plastic-free” county

Anglesey, an island off Wales’ northwest coast, has become the UK’s first “plastic-free” county.

Plastic Free Community status was awarded by Surfers Against Sewage after the island met the five objectives set by the marine conservation group.

The movement forms part of the organization’s wider effort to combat plastics in the ocean, which also includes asking individuals to reduce their plastic consumption and lobbying government for new legislation.

“It’s not about removing all plastic from our lives,” Surfers Against Sewage says. “It’s about kicking our addiction to avoidable single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it.”

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The world’s highest bridge

The Duge Beipanjiang Bridge (also called the Beipanjiang Bridge or the Duge Bridge) is a concrete cable-stayed bridge that carries four lanes across the Beipan River. Connecting Xuanwei in the Yunnan Province and Liupanshui in Guizhou, the bridge reduces travel times between the two cities from four hours to just over an hour.

It was a massive construction project, and the designers kept having to move the final location of the bridge higher and higher to avoid caves and cracking in the karst mountains at either side of the valley.

The eastern tower of the bridge is 883 feet tall, which is up there among the tallest bridges in the world. Even more impressive, however, is the huge expanse between the road deck and the river below. The deck is 1,854 feet—or over a third of a mile—above the average water level of the river. For perspective, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has a clearance of about 220 feet. Chicago’s Sears Tower would fit under the Beipanjiang Bridge with 400 feet to spare, while London’s 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) would fit under the bridge three times over.

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Ethiopia burns waste to produce energy

This innovative power plant in Ethiopia burns waste to produce enough energy for up to a quarter of homes in the capital city, Addis Ababa.

The plant also produces water, eco-friendly bricks and creates hundreds of local jobs.

In the film, Global Managing Director, Samuel Alemayehu, talks us through how the project works and the impact and benefits it has for Ethiopia.

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Ireland to plant more trees to combat climate change

It’s already known as the ‘Emerald Isle’, but the Irish government wants to make the country even greener, by planting trees to tackle climate change.

Policymakers set a planting target of 440 million trees by 2040 – or around 22 million trees per year, a government spokeswoman told The Irish Times.

Of these, 70% are set to be conifers and will be 30% broad leaves.

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“E-Ferry Ellen”, the world’s largest all-electric ferry makes its maiden voyage

“E-Ferry Ellen”, the world’s largest all-electric ferry, has made its maiden voyage connecting the island of Aerø, population 6,000, to the rest of Denmark. The route is 22 nautical miles long.

The ferry, which now connects the Danish ports of Søby and Fynshav, was built at the shipyard on the island of Als through a partnership between Aerø Municipality and the European Union. The project is part of Danish Natura, which aims to provide environmentally friendly transport for local residents. It was initiated in 2015 and was funded by the EU through the Horizon 2020 and Innovation Program.

The ship, capable of carrying 30 vehicles and 200 passengers, is powered by a battery system with an unprecedented capacity of 4.3MWh provided by Leclanché SA (SIX: LECN), one of the world’s leading energy storage companies. The operators estimate the electric ferry will save over 2,000 tons of CO2 per year in its operation.

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