7 Misconceptions About Engineering That Are Simply Not True
Engineers are often perceived as antisocial and dull. Is it true? Find out as we debunk some of the biggest myths of engineering!
Updated 23 May 2022
“Can you fix my phone for me?”
“The Big Bang Theory must be your favourite TV sitcom, right?”
“Do you really want to work as an engineer? It’s such a boring job!”
Do the statements above sound familiar to you? If yes, then you’re either (1) an engineering student or (2) an engineer.
Either way, it’s second nature for people to have stereotypical ideas about every occupation in the world, including the field of engineering. But are any of them true? In this article, we aim to bust some of the most common myths about engineering!
#1. Engineers are weird
Thanks to popular sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory, many perceive engineers as weird and socially awkward people, preferring to stay home staring at their computers instead of mingling at social gatherings.
However, just like every profession, there are both introverts and extroverts in the field. And just because an engineer doesn’t engage in lively conversations, it doesn’t mean that they dislike people. Some people just take a while to warm up to others.
Moreover, if you think being an engineer means you can skip socialising, you’re wrong! Engineers often work on projects that require dealing with a range of people, including other engineers, clients, contractors and technicians. To succeed as an engineer, you must have good communications skills to ensure all parties are on the same page.
#2. Engineers are often stuck in a cubicle
Think engineering isn’t for you because you prefer a job that doesn’t confine you physically? Well, you might think twice after this.
While there are engineering jobs that are mainly desk-bound, most engineers will be required to spend some time outside their cubicles, such as on construction sites, in the labs and in plants and factories.
Depending on the specific field of engineering, you might also be able to travel around the world. For instance, a petroleum engineer has to visit and oversee drilling sites, which could be anywhere in the world with valuable resources.
#3. Engineers have dull jobs
This particular perception towards engineers can be biased, given that any job can be boring if you have no interest or passion in your choice of profession.
For those who find joy in coming up with different solutions to solve problems, the field of engineering can be an exciting place. With every new project comes a fresh challenge, and engineers have to constantly think both logically and creatively to solve new puzzles. Moreover, it often involves working in multi-disciplinary teams, which can be incredibly satisfying once the final product is built.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at these unusual engineering inventions and see if you think that they’re developed by “boring” engineers.
#4. Engineering isn’t for women
It’s true that engineering is a male-dominated profession. But your choice of career shouldn’t be restricted based on your gender. Given the right education, both men and women can take up the same occupation — it has nothing to do with your appearance or sex chromosomes.
If you think women aren’t suited for the testosterone-laden world of engineering, be inspired by Sarah Guppy, an English engineer who patented a method of making safe piling for bridges. Or how about Edith Clarke, an American electrical engineer who invented a graphical calculator that could solve line equations 10 times faster than previous methods.
So, don’t let gender stereotypes discourage you from pursuing engineering.
#5. Engineers can fix everything
Another frustrating myth that constantly gets out of hand is the impression that engineers can magically fix all kinds of devices and equipment — the lights, phones, even the air-conditioning!
We’re sorry to disappoint but engineers aren’t magicians. They’re not packed with an all-in-one diagnosis bible for every technical failure you face in life.
Just because an engineer designs circuits at their workplace doesn’t mean they’re able to fix your lights. Think about it this way — a mechanic repairs cars while a mechanical engineer improves the design of the car. Both are trained to focus on different aspects of the same thing. So, stop asking your engineering friends to fix your laptop!
#6. Engineers are not creative
The smartphone? 3D printing? Sophia the Robot?
Engineers are often portrayed as boring, nerdy individuals with thick glasses and checkered shirts, spending copious amounts of time crunching numbers on computers. As such, they’re unlikely to be viewed as a creative bunch.
However, if engineers aren’t creative, we don’t know who is!
Engineers have to find ways to think outside the box to enhance people’s lives. Think about how smartphones have become thinner and lighter or how self-driving cars will soon be ubiquitous. These are the work of skillful and creative engineers, throwing away conventional thinking and imagining a world that could be. Engineers, in essence, are the ones who shape the future!
#7. Engineers will have to be engineers forever
“If you study engineering, you’re going to be stuck in the same job all your life.”
Guess what? That’s not true!
You’ll be surprised at how many companies are willing to accept engineers and engineering graduates for non-engineering positions. This is because they are often equipped with highly sought-after skills and abilities, such as logical thinking, problem-solving and numeracy skills.
So, don’t be surprised to find engineering graduates in fields such as business, finance, management consulting and logistics.
With all these myths busted, we hope to provide you a clearer view of what engineering truly entails. Remember, there are always pros and cons in every field. So, make sure you do your due diligence by doing ample research on a field before you commit to anything. Don’t let unsavoury advice and rumours cloud your mind — and ultimately, affect your decision.