What do Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google co-founder Larry Page have in common?
Apart from heading the tech titans of today, all three possess an engineering degree – be it at the undergraduate or postgraduate level.
What this means in today’s world is that an engineering degree is the first step to success. As these Silicon Valley bigwigs show, a foundation centred around problem-solving skills is one that serves you well in both career and life.
In engineering, students get to explore the intersection between creativity and scientific principles in pursuit of designing or developing structures, machines, apparatus or manufacturing processes that are made useful to people.
As co-founder of Infosys N. R. Narayana Murthy said: “Engineering or technology is all about using the power of science to make life better for people, to reduce cost, to improve comfort, to improve productivity, etc.”
From robotics to biomedicine, computer science to sustainable energies, and mining to aeronautics – specialisations for this noble profession span far and wide.
Technical aspects form the bulk of this discipline, but they aren’t everything. One misconception the field of study suffers from is the appearance of only teaching hard technical skills and ignoring soft skills, like complex problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and people management skills.
Indeed, many top engineering schools in India and elsewhere are facing criticism for the inability of the millions of engineers the country produces every year to do even basic coding. They are in major need of enhanced training in soft skills and lessons in big-data analytics and the Internet of Things as well.
These aren’t just skills that will be necessary in the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution, but just as highly relevant in today’s increasingly competitive workplace. Pichai’s success at Google is traced to his ability to empathise and be introspective, helping the multinational overcome political and business fights, more than his technical counterparts.
Similarly, Nadella is steering Microsoft towards a more moral direction, emerging as one of the most outspoken advocates for more user privacy and ethical guidelines in artificial intelligence.
In light of these new workplace challenges, many engineering graduates feel the need to take on advanced degrees in the humanities. While these are great additions to their CVs, they are forgoing the benefits of earning an advanced or postgraduate qualification in engineering itself.
Data from online lender Social Finance also found that there could be a financial disadvantage for those who receive a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and then pursues a graduate degree in fine arts, humanities, or social sciences. Their median lifetime earnings drop by 17 percent after earning a Master’s in fine arts.
Conversely, those who went to engineering graduate school saw a 12.2 percent increase in their median lifetime earnings.
The benefits are not just financial. A significant number of job postings are now requiring higher levels of expertise as high-tech jobs become more globally-competitive.
A Master’s in engineering – which lets you specialise in engineering while fine-tuning your management skills – is vital for you to remain competitive in the market, gain the necessary soft skills to thrive and earn more.
Here are the top three engineering grad schools if you’re interested in this triple whammy of benefits for your career:
This university ranks in the top 1.5 percent in the world, consistently producing engineering graduates of the highest calibre.
Real-word experience and regular contact with industry leaders is integrated into every student’s curriculum, at all levels of study.
Its Master’s programs – Master of Electronic Engineering, Master of Engineering (Civil), Master of Engineering (Electronics), Master of Engineering (Manufacturing), Master of Engineering Management, Master of Telecommunication and Network Engineering – are designed to address the growing complexity of the engineering profession.
The new suite of Master of Engineering (Civil), Master of Engineering (Electronics) and Master of Engineering (Manufacturing) offers Work Integrated Learning or Advanced Research Integrated Learning as part of the course.
Susnigdha Abburi, who graduated with a Master of Telecommunications and Network Engineering in 2012, said: “The course at La Trobe University has definitely helped to shape my career and has fine-tuned my time management skills, people skills and decision-making skills.”
The department’s aim for two-year programs is to ensure every graduate leaves the Melbourne campus ready to manage people and projects in a diverse range of sectors.
At WelTec & Whitireia, engineering comes with a practical focus. Its four postgraduate diplomas in engineering – Mechatronics, Water and Waste, Building Services, Structures – let professionals refine their skills and get straight out to the workforce in just one full year of study.
At the heart of its education philosophy is a focus on learning what the industry needs. This ensures students are able to try their hands on real projects and applications that develop the problem-solving skills the sector demands.
Najif, an engineering tutor said: “We do theoretical and practical work, including projects around structural design of existing and new buildings, lab projects, design buildings and learn from case studies of buildings that haven’t performed well.”
New, upgraded US$3 million engineering facilities with new spaces for collaborative project work and computer-based training equipment represents another great asset.
Hong Kong may be one of the most futuristic cities in the world but at Hong Kong Polytechnic’s (PolyU) Faculty of Engineering, the tradition of engineering excellence started over seven decades ago.
From its Master of Science in several specialistations to its Postgraduate Diplomas, this school’s ambition is to arm graduates with the professional competence needed to become specialists/management leaders in the field, in addition to enhanced strategic thinking and lifelong learning competencies.
The school’s performance in global rankings says it all. The faculty is ranked 56th and 67th in the broad subject area of “Engineering and Technology” in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018 and Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject 2018.
Many of its engineering research projects have resulted in the development of innovative products and advanced technological designs, and even won awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
It’s a faculty that thinks ahead to cater to the needs of today, be it in the flexibility it offers in its programme schedules or in its emphasis on the soft skills vital to future engineering leaders.
Asia’s centre of innovation, South Korea, is no stranger in delivering engineering solutions, as it has done for the last few decades. Crucial to this technological progress are its universities, including Seoul National University’s College of Engineering.
Founded only in 1946, the university has come a long way since its humble beginnings. CoE’s notable alumni include CEOs of multinational corporations, entrepreneurs and world-class engineers, all of whom are involved in different levels of society, standing as the driving force behind national development.
SNU’s postgraduate provisions are reputed across the globe, boasting dedicated faculty, state-of-the-art research facilities and outstanding scholarship opportunities for students to enjoy.
QS ranks the CoE 16th in the world and the university as a whole is 36th globally – a well-deserved recognition.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International