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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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Newly built mall collapses due to structural failures

A newly opened shopping mall on Mexico City’s south side partly collapsed due to structural problems. A video captures the moment the cantilevered, multi-story section of the mall collapses in a cloud of dust, smashed glass and twisted metal.

The Artz Pedregal mall opened in March, though parts remain under construction. It had drawn the ire of neighbors worried about the loss of open space, congestion and other issues. Built on the edge of the city’s main expressway, the mall had suffered previous subsoil slides.

The city also has notoriously bad subsoil conditions, and developers often build on unstable land.

In 2016, while foundation work was still being done on the mall, a retaining wall next to the expressway partly collapsed.

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First family to move into a 3D-printed house

The Ramdanis have become the first family in the world to move into a 3D-printed house.  The four-bedroom property is a prototype for bigger projects aiming to make housebuilding quicker and cheaper.

This new prototype of a 3D printed home have digital controls for the convenience of disabled individuals and the curved-wall designs that substantially alleviate the effects of humidity on the house.

The 95m (1022ft) square house – built for a family of five with four bedrooms and a big central space in Nantes – is a collaboration between the city council, a housing association and University of Nantes.

The construction of the entire house cost around £176,000. This means that the cost of construction done by 3D printing is 20% cheaper than using conventional construction techniques.

This house was made as a result of the collaboration between the University of Nantes, the city council, and a housing association. The 1022 square feet house can comfortably house a family of five.

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Sky Habitat in Singapore

The Sky Habitat in Singapore combines residential architecture with nature. The 39-storey structure is linked by three landscape sky bridges. There’s a swimming pool on top of the highest bridge. The staircase shape allows natural ventilation and daylight to pour deep into the structure. Each of the 509 apartments has its own balcony and garden. Residents have access to the gardens, tennis court and walking paths. The Sky Habitat was designed by Safdie Architects. It opened in April 2015.

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The future of farming is in skyscrapers – not fields

Mashambas is a movable educational center, which emerges in the poorest areas of the continent. It provides education, training on agricultural techniques, cheap fertilizers, and modern tools; it also creates a local trading area, which maximizes profits from harvest sales. Agriculture around the building flourishes and the knowledge spreads towards the horizon. The structure is growing as long as the number of participants is rising. When the local community becomes self-sufficient it is transported to other places.

The structure is made with simple modular elements, it makes it easy to construct, deconstruct and transport. Modules placed one on the other create the high-rise, which is a form that takes the smallest as possible amount of space from local farmers.

The main objective of the project is to bring this green revolution to the poorest people. Giving training, fertilizer, and seeds to the small farmers can give them an opportunity to produce as much produce per acre as huge modern farms. When farmers improve their harvests, they pull themselves out of poverty. They also start producing surplus food for their neighbors. When farmers prosper, they eradicate poverty and hunger in their communities.

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Scotland Tidal Power Project

This large-scale tidal power project is revolutionizing renewable energy. It is the world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm. And it’s now under construction in Scotland. Fpur 1.5 MW turbines will be installed underwater. The project will eventually have 269 turbines, enabling the farm to produce up to 398 MW of power, enough for 175,000 homes. Scotland’s tidal energy project will be completed in 2020.

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