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Studying to be an engineer? Here’s how to stand out from the crowd

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Top Dyson engineers shared what makes a good engineer. Source: James Dyson Award 2018

Do you think it is essential to have loads of industry experience, many prestigious internships and top-of-the-class grades to become a leading engineer after graduation? Think again.

Passion. Passion is the one thing all the engineers and students taking part in this year’s James Dyson Awards – an engineering and innovation competition for students – had in common.

While relevant experience and a proactive attitude never hurt, engineers and students involved in the award said passion and self-belief were crucial to their success.

“There were times during my studies when I didn’t know if I was studying the right course for me. It wasn’t until my third year when I decided to take a risk and study Computer Engineering that I truly found my passion,” John Khoo, who studied engineering at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus, told Study International.

“Although this course had the highest failure rate in the whole department, I just thought ‘why not?’ and studied it anyway. I saw the challenging content as an opportunity to grow as a person, and really found enjoyment in the subject.”

When applying for university, or thinking about your future career, it’s easy to question whether you are on the right path, Khoo explained. There are so many opportunities available to you, and it can be crippling to decide which field to choose.

Khoo would like to tell you that, although there may be days you doubt if you’re on the right path, commitment and perseverance will drive you to success. Although he once wasn’t sure if engineering was for him, and even faced rejection to internships during his studies, Dyson hired him as an intern after graduation, and now he his a full-time Dyson engineer.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as being naturally good at something. I don’t think there is a gene that makes you good at public speaking, for example. But endurance and practice will help you overcome anything,” he said.

All the Dyson engineers who are now working for one of the world’s leading organisations were all once students who were uncertain about their future but passionate to make a change.

Azalea Badrulshah told Study International how at every point of her studies and career she has had to fight to be respected, and by treating challenges as opportunities to improve professionally and personally she has become a better engineer.

After studying for her A Levels in Ireland aged only 14, Badrulshah learned hard work and self-belief are the main factors to achieving your goals

“During my A Levels, I had to fight to be heard as equal because I was younger than the other students. During my degree, I had to fight to be heard because my mind worked differently to the male students. During working at Dyson, I had to fight to be heard alongside my male colleagues,” she said.

Azalea Badrulshah went from young student to Dyson engineer. Source: James Dyson Award 2018

“I never gave up. I kept working hard because I knew my age and gender would not hold me back. There were times I wanted to quit but I made myself carry on because I knew I could succeed.”

It’s not always the most intelligent student that makes the best engineer. Engineering, especially Dyson’s approach to engineering, is all about identifying a problem and developing an innovative solution.

The James Dyson Award winners for Malaysia told Study International that hard work, identifying strengths and weakness, and believing in your own ability are crucial to making ideas a reality.

“The most important thing is never to give up when you have an idea,” said Faris Mazida, an engineering student at International Islamic University Malaysia and creator of award-winning Pumeca Pump.

“You don’t have to have the highest IQ or the best mind. I am good at creative thinking and problem solving and my teammate is good at presenting and talking.

“We use each other’s strengths to raise each other. This kind of thinking is what makes a good engineer.”

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