Good engineers need a good understanding of mathematics, physics and computers. But these are basic skills, pretty much like reading and writing. HR does not bother asking. HR takes them for granted. They look for something else.
What really turns an engineer into a superhero is emotional intelligence.
Good engineering professionals need additional capabilities.
- Good communication skills
- Teamwork abilities
- Learning desire
Good Communication Skills
Good communications skills go further than having the gift of the gab. It’s writing clear memos that accomplish results. It’s being able to encapsulate work results in a nutshell for presentations. It’s active listening – the forgotten skill – by seeking to understand first before taking any action. And finally, good communication skills are having an excellent command of a foreign language – English, preferably. Fluency in two or more languages is key for the global market of 21st century engineering (1).
Engineering is a collaborative effort. Self-centered, individualistic and ego-driven people won’t do the job. Engineering firms need team players. Team players support the group’s decision. They value – and seek – the opinions of others. They treat others with fairness, courtesy and respect. They help others. They encourage them to speak up. Team players engage and honor their commitments towards the group’s final goal.
We live in a rapid and constantly changing world. New products and ideas are popping up everywhere everyday. Commitment to continuous improvement and learning is the only way not to lag behind. Good engineers continuously try news methods, apply new technologies and learn new skills. New ideas are acquired by either going back to school, attending seminars or reading at home. Good engineers are open-minded.
Good engineers hold paramount safety, health and welfare. Full application of engineering codes is not negotiable. In professional matters, they act in a truthful and faithful manner before employers, clients and the community. Finally, they adopt a zero-tolerance policy for bribery, fraud and corruption.
There are of course other very helpful abilities and knowledge: cross-cultural awareness, business economics, project management, leadership, critical thinking, flexibility, multi-parametric thinking…and more.
All this good stuff makes good engineers. That’s what engineering firms want. But what really turns an engineer into a superhero is emotional intelligence. If you find one endowed with it, please refer immediately to the Smithsonian Museum authorities.
(1) For those who are already English natives; don’t you dare to think you can get away without mastering a foreign language. For example, it is almost impossible to sell consultancy services in Spanish speaking countries of Latin America when you only speak English.