3 Important Takeaways From An Evening With Engineers

By Kamesh Balasubramanian
November 12, 2015

I was recently invited to represent Wirecog at CSUN’s Evening with Engineers. This event provided me the opportunity to interact with fellow professional engineers and also allowed me to provide real-world, career advice to engineering students.

I was impressed with the variety and breadth of engineering talent that was present at the event. Here’s a list of engineers who participated.

While listening to the professional stories/experiences from other engineers and reflecting on my own past experiences, I observed 3 common abilities, that I feel are necessary for any successful engineering career:

1. Love to Learn

Learning doesn’t stop once you get your degree. In fact, that’s when the real learning begins. Textbooks from certain courses, can provide you with starting points to some domain-specific problems. You will quickly find out, early in your career, that you will have to learn how to do research on your own and pick up new concepts and technologies.

The one thing that is guaranteed in a technology career is change. You will have to learn new skills, which can include new programming languages, methodologies, and industry best practices. This requires that one must be able to learn and adapt quickly. Essentially, learning how to learn in an effective manner that is time efficient to meet the objectives at hand. This also requires a love of learning, and the drive one must have to pursue new knowledge to solve new types of problems discovered in the field.

2. Have A Sense Of Direction

As an engineer you must have a sense of direction to know what you're building. You have to know what the end game is. This includes all the items that are required for you to deliver a successful solution. The nightmare scenario for any engineer is the same as for any tech startup: you end up building something that nobody wants. So it’s important to get the requirements down correctly. This entails working closely with your customers to find out what their needs are and making sure that their requirements are met from your proposed solutions. A sense of direction is necessary to know where you currently are and where you need to be.

3. Communicate Effectively

You must have the ability to translate tech speak to plain speak. You cannot assume that everyone you interact with will be technical enough to understand what you’re saying. In fact, more likely the case is that your customers will be people that are non-technical or unaware of your particular domain of expertise. It is imperative that you develop your ability to break down highly complex concepts into smaller, simpler ones so that they can be conveyed in a manner that a non-technical audience can understand. More importantly so, is when your audience consists of the people who hold the purse strings that fund your project. In that particular case, you must have the ability to communicate effectively with your audience so that you may justify the projected costs necessary for going down a particular implementation path.