Every day, we interact with man-made structures and vehicles and use modern-day devices to get about our day. Our lives are made easier all thanks to the ingenuity of engineering.
If you’re fascinated with designing and building things to help improve the lives of people, then you may be thinking of pursuing a career in engineering. Here are some of the top questions students ask about studying an engineering programme.
#1. Can I still study engineering if I am bad at mathematics?
Yes, you certainly can! All you need is to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements. Specifically for entry into an engineering degree programme at universities in Malaysia, you’ll need at least a C in mathematics at
Having said that, you should know that there is plenty of calculation involved in the study of engineering, including algebra, calculus, statistics and trigonometry. So while you don’t have to be a genius in maths to study engineering, you should at least be comfortable with numbers and do not have an irrational fear of them.
#2. Which field of engineering should I study?
There are plenty of engineering fields out there and it can be hard to decide on one. Some may advise you to go for the more traditional fields such as civil engineering and mechanical engineering while others may encourage you to look towards newer disciplines such as mechatronics and biomedical engineering.
The truth is that almost all engineering fields are in-demand in Malaysia, so you’ll be in good stead whichever you choose. In the end, it all comes down to personal interest and what you imagine yourself doing in the future. Do your research and understand what the various fields are all about and figure out if it’s something that interests you.
#3. Is engineering just about machines?
If you think engineering is just about big, bulky inventions like cars, aeroplanes and industrial machinery, you’re wrong. There are actually plenty of other cool applications of engineering!
For starters, genetic engineering will bring you to microscopic levels where you’ll be manipulating an organism’s genes directly. There’s also instrumentation and control engineering that deals with things like sensors (e.g. motion-activated night lights). And did you know that there’s also acoustic engineering that specialises in sound and vibration? This branch of engineering covers aspects such as noise control, using ultrasound in medical equipment and enhancing the quality of music in a concert hall or recording studio.
As you can see, engineering covers a wide range of fields and isn’t just limited to machines.
#4. Which engineering is best for girls?
Even though girls are equally as bright in mathematics and science as boys, it’s no secret that a large number of engineering disciplines are male-dominated.
But are there certain engineering disciplines that are more suitable for girls?
The truth is that women can pursue all fields of engineering. However, data does show that there are certain engineering disciplines that attract more females, particularly chemical engineering. The reasons for this vary, but it seems that chemical engineering is perceived to be more flexible and offers more career opportunities. Other engineering fields that have a higher percentage of females include environmental and biomedical engineering.
Nonetheless, remember that women, just like men, can succeed in engineering too. So, don’t let gender stereotypes discourage you from pursuing your desired field of engineering.
#5. Do engineers need to know how to code?
Most engineering degrees will require you to do some form of programming. Depending on your university and your engineering discipline, you may be working with Matlab, C++ and Fortran, with some institutions introducing newer languages such as Python or Java.
Whether or not you need to be proficient in programming highly depends on which engineering discipline you’re pursuing. Electrical and electronic engineering, for instance, generally requires more programming knowledge than mechanical engineering.
#6. Is engineering hard?
Engineering has a reputation for being a tough and challenging programme. And we won’t deny it — studying engineering can be hard for some.
For starters, an engineering student’s workload is often overwhelming; think lectures, tutorials and countless laboratory and practical sessions. In particular, if what you’re building in the labs isn’t working out, you’ll be expected to spend extra hours trying to figure it out. Additionally, the course material is often complex and builds upon what you’ve learnt a lot quicker than you’d expect, which means there’s no room for slacking off.
Nonetheless, all of the above can be resolved with the right time management skills, proper learning strategies, good critical thinking skills and most importantly, lots of hard work. So if you’re passionate about engineering, don’t let the notion of “engineering is hard” deter you.
#7. Which engineering jobs are in demand?
Based on the latest TalentCorp’s Critical Occupations List, engineers from all fields are in demand in Malaysia. Some of the top hard-to-fill jobs include:
- Civil engineering: Structural civil engineer, construction civil engineer (building / tower / road), site engineer, safety engineer
- Mechanical engineering: General mechanical engineer, instrumentation engineer, equipment engineer, computer-aided design (CAD) engineer, mechatronic engineer
- Electrical / electronic engineering: Electrical systems engineer, electrical testing engineer, integrated circuit (IC) design engineer, test engineer, research and development (R&D) electronic engineer, electronic component design engineer
- Chemical engineering: Process engineer, project engineer, quality engineer, materials engineer, mining engineer, production engineer
#8. Can I work in fields outside of my engineering degree?
If you think that mechanical engineering limits you to manufacturing and chemical engineering is only good for industrial plants, we’ve got some surprising news for you.
The reality is that your engineering education is useful everywhere! A degree in engineering often equips you with useful and transferable skills, particularly problem-solving, logical thinking and strong numeracy. These skills are highly desirable in a number of industries such as finance, banking, consulting, business and IT.
#9. What skills should an engineer have?
In general, engineers should have solid technical skills as well as soft skills. Depending on what field of engineering you pursue, some of the key skills include:
Technical skills (varies depending on discipline):
- Computer science and programming skills
- Modeling and computer-aided design (CAD) skills
- Design, fabrication and prototyping skills
- Advanced skills in statistics, mathematics and physics
- Critical thinking skills to solve complex problems
- Creative and innovative thinking
- Organisational and project management skills
- Communication skills
- Good time management skills
Don’t worry if you do not have these skills yet. Pursuing an engineering degree will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a successful engineering career.
#10. Is engineering the right course for me?
If you’re struggling to decide whether engineering is a good fit for you, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Do you find the process of solving problems fun?
- Are you good with hands-on and practical work?
- Do you like building LEGO structures or assembling IKEA furniture?
- Do you enjoy tinkering with machines and electronic devices?
- Can you think logically and solve complex math problems?
- Are you able to work independently with little supervision?
- Do you have good grades in maths and physics?
If you’re nodding your head in agreement to most of these questions, then engineering is a good choice for you!