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What kind of skills do you have to have to be an engineer?

To see if this job best fits me #engineer

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Amy’s Answer

Engineering is such a large topic, there's no one kind of engineer. I would say "yes and" to Vern's answer: the key characteristic of an engineer is a detailed curiosity of the subject and commitment to finish. There's two categories I can think of: 1) well-known problems that have well-known solutions, and 2) loosely-defined or unknown problems and you bring a bag of mental tools to the party.

If you train yourself to recognize a problem and can apply a well-known solution then you're the kind of engineer that probably likes to just grab a bunch of work from the in-box and power through it. Another word I would use is "technician". You see a problem, you solve it. Broken circuit? Grab the right meter and the right bit of solder to fix it. Broken engine? Get the diagnostic code and replace the part. Missing web page? Get your favorite library and use the common coding patterns.

Then there's the other kind of engineer that verges on being an inventor or an artist. The jet engine not fuel efficient? You measure the baseline, you take apart some known machine, you invent new parts, you create software to manage the system, and you repeatedly experiment until you get the desired result. Can you make the smartphone smaller? Maybe you remove 10 chips from the motherboard and replace with 1 beefier CPU and you do all chips' old functions in software. Are the fabrics in clothes breaking down too fast in washing machines? Either design a better fabric fiber or maybe change the way agitation in washing machines works so there's less friction.

In either case you're going to have to be supremely persistent and careful with your data. Attributes of engineers that are successful: fast, decisive, good communicators, notice small details, organization, repeatable procedures.
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Vern’s Answer

First, let me change your question! What kind of PERSONALITY ATTRIBUTES do you have to have to be an SUCCESSFULL engineer? A below average engineer needs very few skills other than being able to complete the required coursework in mathematics, chemistry, physics, thermal dynamics, statics, etc.. None of these subjects are rocket science. A successful engineer however needs to have a certain personality attributes including: intellectually inquisitive; humble; self-confident; highly ethical; and internally driven.

Now that we have that out of the way, the best engineers tend to share certain traits. First, they tend to be very comfortable with math and science concepts. Second, almost always they are capable of being able to work effectively with others and can show empathy for the society they serve. Third, they often are able to strike a balance between self-confidence and humbleness. Forth, they are able to effectively communicate by being an great at listening and reasonably good at speaking and writing.

Engineers commonly are intensely fixated on problem solving almost to the point of an obsessive compulsive disorder.

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