WALK through any of the world’s great cities, and you’ll be surrounded by feats of engineering.
From the Egyptian pyramids to the Burj Khalifa, the Suez Canal to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, engineers have been designing structures, solving problems, and helping to drive social progress since the dawn of human civilisation.
But hidden amongst the skyscrapers and bridges are the many less obvious – but no less important – ways that engineers work to improve our daily lives. You may not realise it, but any time you use your smartphone, drive on a road, walk into a building, catch a train, flick a light switch or turn on a tap, you are interacting with the work of an engineer.
According to Dr Selvan Pather, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at USC, it’s this breadth of opportunity that makes engineering one of the fastest growing – and most exciting – professional skills of the future.
Dr Pather and his team have recently re-designed USC’s engineering degrees to help students take advantage of this growth.
This includes brand-new degrees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mechatronic Engineering, an emerging field that combines the best of mechanical, electrical and electronics and computer engineering to create new technologies and constantly improve the systems around us.
“Traditionally, people have tended to view engineering as quite a siloed career – that civil engineers worked on large-scale infrastructure like bridges, highways or major construction projects, while mechanical engineers worked with machines and in manufacturing industries,” he says.
“But in fact, engineers are now required in a wide range of fields including medical device manufacturing, innovative product design, health rehabilitation therapies, electronic data communications, automation, robotics and more.”
Help build the future
In the digital age, engineers increasingly work alongside computer scientists, urban designers and town planners to develop environmentally friendly technologies, optimise smart infrastructure, and design and build the cities and public spaces of the future.
It’s also a global profession, with rapid growth in areas like humanitarian engineering – particularly in the developing world or areas vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
With this in mind, USC’s engineering degrees have been designed to meet the needs of an evolving profession, with a focus on producing creative, adaptive engineers who are able to easily move between industries and take advantage of emerging opportunities – some of which haven’t even been imagined yet.
Students also gain practical experience in USC’s state-of-the-art facilities, including what will be Australia’s newest engineering study labs at USC Moreton Bay, with specialist areas for robotics, advanced manufacturing, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, geomechanics and civil construction.
Dr Pather says students will also have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge with courses from another engineering degree, or from a complementary field like management, entrepreneurship or environmental studies.
Again, it’s a recognition of the fact that the engineers of the future won’t only work in one industry –they’ll continue to build and shape the world around us, but they’ll do so in countless new and inventive ways.
“At its core, engineering is about designing solutions and bringing complex ideas to life,” Dr Pather says.
“As technology continues to re-shape the world around us, we’ll see more and more opportunities to do this, and we want our graduates to be prepared to take advantage of them.”