Bill Price answered on 13 Mar 2012:
Hi, it’s true that engineering is a very broad field but in many ways that is the main appeal of it. There are lots of areas and opportunities to aim for before you pick a specialism. In my case I work on the structural design of buildings – in particular high rise skyscrapers. As structural engineers we make sure the building can stand up in the wind and can carry the weight of lots of floors. It’s a great field to work in as we work closely with architects to create the built environment we live and of no two buildings are alike so it’s always new and exciting!
Andrew Hearn answered on 13 Mar 2012:
We find software in all sorts of things nowadays, in fact there are very few stuff that doesn’t have any software running on microchips! Think about mobile phones, cars, washing machines, railway signalling, aircrafts, and the huge list goes on and on including loads of stuff hidden from public view.
That’s what makes software engineering fascinating, that we get to learn new things for the next project, not a dull moment here! So the skills can only grow over time, with different languages used to write software. I guess my expertise at making things run faster, knowing what and where to look for when something doesn’t run right, and figuring out how to ‘break’ other people’s code (to catch bugs as early as possible) improves as I go along.
Rain Irshad answered on 13 Mar 2012:
I’m really lucky – as an engineer in a small group I get to work in lots of different areas. I work on lab experiments, detectors, cameras, aerosols, gases, asteroids, planets allsorts. I’ve done a lot of optics – which is working with mirrors and lenses for space instruments – and a fair bit of modelling – which is where you write computer programs to approximate a real-life situation. I’ve also worked in seismology (Earthquakes), Atmospheric Chemistry, Mechanical design (designing the physical and/or moving parts of instruments). In my job I tend to have to know a little bit about everything and then learn to specialise depending on the mission we’re working towards at that moment. That’s one of the things that makes it interesting – it’s not just the same thing day in day out.
Kayleigh Messer answered on 18 Mar 2012:
As I am only at the beginning of my career I wouldn’t say I have an area of expertise just yet, but the main area I work in at the moment is data analysis and simulation.
I use computer programs to test different aspects of the F1 car virtually. I then pass this information onto the race engineers who decide which parts they want to fit for a race. I also look at data from the car running at a track and compare it to the simulations to check that the virtual results match reality.
Even within F1 there is a broad range of engineering skills used. Other engineers design the parts of the car using computer aided design (CAD) programs, some focus on mechanical parts, others on the body work and the aerodynamics of the cars. Then there are more hands on jobs like research and development engineers who have to physically test the parts before they go onto the car, to check they can withstand all the forces that go through the car when it is running.
Grant Cairnie answered on 19 Mar 2012:
I would describe my area of expertise as Powertrain Calibration. There are many more specific areas within this but I have to have a good knowledge of all of it.