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Wider reading for potential engineering student
47

thatsnotmymask · 14/10/2020 22:01

DS is in year 12 doing maths, further maths, physics and economics. One of his potential future degree choices is general engineering so I'd like to buy him a couple of inspiring, readable books related to that field. What would you recommend? Is there a "popular engineering" genre?

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Guymere · 14/10/2020 22:53

Why general? Does he actually went to be an engineer? Lots that do general engineering go encourage do city jobs!

If he does want to be an engineer, actually thinking about which Branch and researching it is a good start for reading. If he can get his hands on the magazines of the various institutions that’s a start and they all have loads of info and case studies on their web sites. So he could get lots of info from them. Ditto large consistencies in the various fields of engineering too. Books? Look on Amazon? Mostly big prestigious projects get written about.

Does he want to do anything practical to support his application? Is any work experience possible? Or on line courses? Try Ted Talks too. Engineers are often doers, not readers.

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Guymere · 14/10/2020 22:54

Correction: go on to do city jobs.

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Guymere · 14/10/2020 23:00

Oh and look at the Engineering Council for details about the huge array of engineering available. Most engineers choose a specific branch of engineering and some universities have great strengths in various disciplines. General can be less good prep because it’s general. It suits some though if they cannot decide.

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PostItJoyWeek · 14/10/2020 23:03

I would also go TED talk not books for inspiration.

If you really want books then maybe something by Randall Monroe like Thing Explainer or What If.

Fiction - The Martian is a good one that was written as a series of engineering essays to begin with imagining the various problems one might face if stuck on Mars.

A nerdy young person (as I once was) may benefit from the books How to Talk to Anyone and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 before going off to uni.

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PantTwizzler · 15/10/2020 23:58

“ Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing” by Henry Petroski

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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 00:01

@PantTwizzler

“ Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing” by Henry Petroski

I think that's one of the ones my DD had too.
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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 00:06

Engineers are often doers, not readers.

True enough... some sort of 'doing', be it robotics or rocketry or whatever he's into is definitely good.

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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 00:09

Lots that do general engineering go encourage do city jobs!

Lots that do general engineering go onto engineering jobs too, if they choose a course which allows for 'generalise then specialise', and proper accreditation.

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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 00:14

Sorry for the disjointed thoughts... but also some general engineering degrees have a 'manufacturing engineering' track which maybe is what a student doing economics alongside the physics and maths might be interested in?

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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 00:27

Some of this list are available as free downloads so he could see if any of these take his fancy.


www.admissions.eng.cam.ac.uk/information/reading

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MrsEricBana · 16/10/2020 08:49

A family member is doing general and finding it excellent because he wasn't sure which branch to do and areas he didn't think he'd necessarily like are proving amazing (e.g. electronics) so it has definitely informed his choice of which branch to specialise in AND it turns out that at his uni the first year is common to all the branches anyway but he's not locked into his branch yet but those that chose mechanical, civil etc up front are.
I agree with others re TED talks, the Martian (Andy Weir) plus so many fab engineering programmes on TV (a Richard Hammond series, can't remember the name). A good problem solving book is Professor Povey's Perplexing Problems by Thomas Povey.
You probably know this, sorry if yes!, but the most highly regarded general engineering course is called Design Engineering (Bristol) and the Oxford course is called Engineering Science ie not called General Engineering so don't appear on some searches. Whatever their brochures say, neither of these will look at him without the Further Maths so he does need to keep that on. Good luck to him - great course!

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Chemenger · 16/10/2020 08:55

I recommend that all engineering students read The Martian by Andy Weir. I think it epitomises the pragmatic problem solving nature of engineering. It also gives a flavour of the importance of working in teams, working across disciplines and communication when the ground staff are considered. The book is much better than the film, but I do like both. In the book the protagonist is en engineer first rather than a botanist. Some of the science is dubious in both the book and the film, but the book is better.

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MrsEricBana · 16/10/2020 09:02

Totally agree with this, it's really good.

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PlanDeRaccordement · 16/10/2020 09:02

Playing SimCity is a good game that makes urban planning/public engineering realistic. From power to water to transport to shops to residential to schools to fire/police coverage.
I wish all those developers throwing up these new housing estates and not adjust the roads or schools would have played it so they’d have a clue.

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Chemenger · 16/10/2020 09:39

I just want to say that what many engineering students don’t realise is that engineers work in teams, we’re not boffins hidden away making genius inventions. Also, that being able to communicate, on paper and orally is vital in engineering. Expect to do presentations and write reports, not just do hard sums. If you want to shun human contact and do things by yourself do mathsSmile.

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MrsEricBana · 16/10/2020 10:10

Excellent point te interpersonal skills, which makes it surprising that they don't interview.

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MrsEricBana · 16/10/2020 10:10

Re

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Guymere · 16/10/2020 10:14

I quite agree about working collaboratively. General Engineering keeps options open but it’s also true that most engineers do know what branch they want. That’s why way more courses offer 4 years doing the precise subject. If you look at the syllabus of any 4 year course you will see why. They are all enormous. Lots of engineering, such as Civils and structural is taught on the same course. So it’s always worth looking at the individual institutions and seeing if any fit your likes.

Most students will also try and do something practical to follow their interests before applying. Whether that’s work experience, joining a robotics club or even doing a tour of a building site! How is that bridge built? What makes that skyscraper stand up? Something must make an engineer tick and as DH employs lots of them, I can say it’s rarely reading. Nor are they boffins. One thing that’s often overlooked is working with clients. Explaining what needs doing, why and how the engineers will go about it.

DHs company works with most big house builders. The road designs are down to the requirements set by the Highways Authority. They are probably employ engineers but follow local policies. So winding narrow estate roads to calm traffic, large splays at the entrance to an estate and reduced parking are all local safety and “green” requirements. Local amenity provision has nothing to do with engineers. That’s all agreed at the planning stage. DH spends quite a lot of time trying to improve road layout as decreed by Highways Authorities because they are impractical in real life.

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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 10:14

Excellent point te interpersonal skills, which makes it surprising that they don't interview.

All 5 of my DDs UCAS choices interviewed - Cambridge gen eng, the others were all Electrical&Electronic. (oxbridge of course interview for everything)

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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 10:24

I don't know if Headstart courses will be running this year or if they've got some virtual alternative set up - that's definitely something that is useful for yr12s deciding their options in the science and engineering domain.

I've got a recommendation for anyone interested in 'popular engineering' - not cheap but we all found these very enjoyable, lectures from the Great Courses company by a military engineer.

www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/stephen-ressler

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Guymere · 16/10/2020 10:25

On courses desperate for students, interviewing would not be useful. Just time consuming. They take virtually all applicants as universities want bums on seats.

They possibly don’t care enough about the quality of the engineer they churn out. As DH finds when many fail their selection tests due to basic errors and a lack of understanding of basic principles. His view is lack of problem solving on courses. Too much design info is being given to students when they design something. In real life you are required to think about the problem and come up with a solution. The relevant thinking is not supplied by a lecturer when you are working.

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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 10:48

On courses desperate for students, interviewing would not be useful. Just time consuming. They take virtually all applicants as universities want bums on seats.

Sure - the ones I was thinking of have high offers and high applicant to place ratios so not the 'take everyone' sort. Though perhaps their interviews are more 'recruiting' than 'selection' mode, for the stronger candidates they really want.

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Needmoresleep · 16/10/2020 11:05

Guymere,

Some of what you are saying sounds odd. Did your DC apply recently?

Imperial seem to interview everyone (and certainly used to give varying grade offers, influenced presumably on interview performance). This is direct contrast to say LSE who don't interview anyone.

DD looked closely at engineering before finally opting for medicine. My tip would be to look at the options offered by Imperial (because they probably offer the widest range) and perhaps get a sense of the range of opportunity. What excites him most? Robotics, Structural, Mechanical, Manufacturing, Biomedical, Automative, even say, things with an environmental impact like engineering solutions for coastal erosion. Is there anything that makes him think "wow". Or there allied courses like materials science, that he was not previously aware of.

Two advantages.

  1. At interview he will have more to say about why he wants to study engineering and why the course is a good fit.

  2. He might look at applying for a mix of specialist and general degrees. A friend of DS' too the same approach as Errol's DD. He did not get into Cambridge but recognised the real silver lining of being able to specialise in EEE from the getgo.

    The more maths the better. Keeping up economics if he can is good, not least because it involves essays.
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ErrolTheDragon · 16/10/2020 11:08

The more maths the better. Keeping up economics if he can is good, not least because it involves essays.

Also, good engineering courses are likely to have economics and other financial type options.

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Guymere · 16/10/2020 11:44

High ranking universities do interview. I know that. There are huge numbers that do not. Most ex polys for a start. MN is besotted with high ranking universities (most students of engineering DO NOT go to Imperial or Cambridge) and seems to think every engineer should go to one. That is simply ludicrous.

DH has engineers from every type of university, RG incljuding Cambridge, ex Poly, and post 1992. It is rarely the university or course that makes a potential emplyee stand out. It is whether they have the underlying engineering principles to hand and can deploy them effectively and are in a position to learn further and be part of the team. Problem solving is aboslutely key. You can get that skill from many universities and you do not have to go to a top 5.

If posters do not employ engineers, they simply do not understand the full breadth of courses available or that even DC with CCC can actually be very good engineers. They just do not go to Cambridge or Imperial. The UK is full of engineers who did not go to Cambridge or Imperial and it is a big mistake to think these are the only worthwhile institutions. If they were, our consultants, engineering firms, car manufacturers, aircraft makers and giant construction firms would have virtually no highly qualified and brilliant engineers. So please understand the profession is not limited to a few high achieving students at A level heading to Cambridge and imperial. Other people can achieve highly too because they can also do the job very well and are also potential leaders. They just might have gone to Portsmouth or Oxford Brooks.

End of sermon!

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