Becoming an engineer: What one needs to know and do

 InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland

The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, built inside a formerly abandoned quarry, about 32 kilometres southwest of Shanghai, China. Engineering requires creativity.

Photo credit: AFP

A career is not a destination but a journey towards success.

Real success demands education, passion, commitment, persistence, hunger and patience.

Career growth needs a blend of academic, technical and employability skills like critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

Careers are dynamic and skills need to be adaptable. One must learn from failures and challenges in order to succeed.

The ever-changing career needs demand that we be lifelong learners.

The day we stop learning is the day we cease to be relevant, especially in engineering. Engineering is dynamic as it changes with emerging aspects.

Engineering is the creative application of scientific principles to design, develop, maintain structures, machines, apparatus, manufacturing processes and works utilising them singly or in combination.

Engineering transforms lives by providing solutions for better shelter, energy, communication, manufacturing, water supply, extraction and use of resources and disposal of waste.

From the development of robots and programming software to manufacturing giant aircraft and constructing humongous buildings, engineers are required in every sector.

It is a discipline with excellent employment and career opportunities.

Although traditional engineering degrees like civil, electrical, mechanical, chemical and agricultural are common in Kenya, other disciplines are emerging.

These include aerospace, metallurgical, architectural, nanoscience, biotechnology, petroleum, engineering management, environmental, geotechnical, industrial, biomedical, biomechanical, automotive, structural, mechatronics, geomatics, robotics, microelectronic, materials science, paper, geological, marine, photonics, space science, mining, ceramics and railway.

The engineering fields are being pursued by many students locally and abroad.

Engineers Rules (2019) prescribe the minimum direct entry for admission to an engineering degree course.

A student must have attained the following qualifications in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations: a minimum aggregate grade of C+ (plus) and at least a C+ in English or Kiswahili and a minimum C+ in mathematics, physics and chemistry.

The Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK), however, allows bridging from recognised institutions in case of deficiencies in any of the subject requirements.

Once students graduate from accredited institutions of higher learning, the board expects them to apply for registration as graduate engineers.

This is the entry-level category of an engineer.

It requires one to prove that he or she graduated from an engineering programme accredited by the board.

It is important for graduate engineers to register as that helps them progress towards building their careers.

Being members of a professional body means the engineers subscribe to certain standards of knowledge and ethics as they make valuable contacts as well as get access to a wealth of information for career growth and networking for jobs.

A graduate engineer status gives you the opportunity to be enrolled under the Graduate Internship Programme.

This is a structured three-year scheme in which graduate engineers are given the opportunity to work and gain professional competence under close supervision of mentors while the board ensures they get monthly stipends.

Once the programme is complete, the board gives the graduate engineer an assessment to establish competence gained before they transition to professional engineering.

Professional engineers oversee project development from initiation to closure. Becoming a professional is a career ambition of any engineering student.

This is where the engineer provides solutions to improve lives.

At this stage, knowledge and experience applied lead to innovative ways of doing things better, simpler, more effectively and efficiently.

As one grows their career, they transition to becoming consulting engineers, who are experts in a particular discipline of engineering.

This is an exciting stage of engineering.

It is where one manages engineering teams to accomplish tasks that are highly complex.

A consulting engineer is allowed to run engineering consulting firms or even become accredited checkers.

An accredited checker is a registered peer review consulting engineer who has the powers to evaluate, analyse and review the engineering designs and perform such original calculations with a view to determining the adequacy of the design and compliance with safety requirements.

Professional engineering is among the most in-demand jobs on the planet.

It should be noted that the engineering industry is struggling against widespread skill and staff shortages.

The liberalisation of the international market, including engineering services and processes, requires highly competent engineers to meet the demand.

Kenya has a shortage of more than 7,000 professional engineers across various disciplines, based on the recommended Unesco ratio of professional engineers to a middle-income country’s population (1:5,000) persons.

The EBK has more than 3,000 professional and consulting and at least 20,000 graduate engineers in its register.

These individuals are employed in various sectors

The Engineers Board of Kenya is a statutory body created by an Act of Parliament, the Engineers Act, 2011.

The core mandate of the board is to register and regulate engineers.

The Act gives the board the mandate to regulate the entire value chain of engineering education, training and professional practice.

The EBK is therefore a critical institution to your career development and your growth towards engineering professionalism.

The Engineers Board of Kenya is responsible for recognition of engineering programmes, collaboration on training for student engineers and review of local and foreign programmes.

Recognition of undergraduate engineering programmes is done for quality assurance during training.

This guarantees the country that the graduate coming to the job market has the desired qualities to become a competent engineer.

Margaret N Ogai is the registrar/chief executive officer at the Engineers Board of Kenya.