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Best route for a career in engineering? Watch

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    Hi Folks

    My son had just finished sitting his GCSE exams and thinking of taking up engineering as a career.
    He is thinking of whether to study a BTec course in engineering or perhaps an apprenticship and then eventually going to university in both cases.

    Could someone be kind enough to advice us the best route to take - either BTec or apprenticeship, or are there other routes which could be better?

    Finally,he doesn't know what type of engineer he wants to be. What things does he need to take in to consideration when deciding this?

    Thanks in advance for your responses
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    The best route into engineering would be to do 3 A-levels including maths and physics and applying to an engineering course at uni. There are some courses which offer general engineering degrees where you specialize in later years.
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    (Original post by geek84)
    Hi Folks

    My son had just finished sitting his GCSE exams and thinking of taking up engineering as a career.
    He is thinking of whether to study a BTec course in engineering or perhaps an apprenticship and then eventually going to university in both cases.

    Could someone be kind enough to advice us the best route to take - either BTec or apprenticeship, or are there other routes which could be better?

    Finally,he doesn't know what type of engineer he wants to be. What things does he need to take in to consideration when deciding this?

    Thanks in advance for your responses
    I don't know much about BTECs since we don't have them in Scotland, but I would be inclined to advise an apprenticeship as with an apprenticeship you will gain real world experience and training, as well as being paid. The company may even help support him through university afterwards.

    Regarding what type of engineer to become, what are his interests?

    (Original post by black1blade)
    The best route into engineering would be to do 3 A-levels including maths and physics and applying to an engineering course at uni. There are some courses which offer general engineering degrees where you specialize in later years.
    This isn't the best route for everyone, though.
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    The main route to certified engineer status (CEng) is by following a typical academic curriculum as descibred above and pursuing an accredited degree. Some universities will accept the BTEC if A-level Maths is taken alongside it however. Also at least one student on the Exeter Engineering course previously was undertaking an apprenticeship in engineering - after taking A-level Maths he was accepted onto the course (actually into second year, although he decided it was best to begin alongside the rest in first year to ensure he had the necessary academic background).

    However that is not the only way to work in the engineering and technology sector. An apprenticeship could lead in itself quite far into the area, potentially earning a degree in the process (which is the first step to CEng status). It can also be used in an intermediary fashion as described in the case above.

    Many engineering courses allow specialization later in the course however. In fact both Cambridge and Oxford only allow this later specialisation by design, so it's not necessarily a sign of academic quality to have it specialise from the beginning. It's also often possible to transfer between similar engineering courses once they've been started if a slight change of direction is undertaken.

    Broadly speaking though, the academic study of engineering necessitates continuing mathematics education, both in 6th form and beyond. More practical routes will undoubtedly develop some further mathematical skills however, as it is necessarily a quantitative field. However depending on the specific position and area, there may be less higher mathematics used.

    For the different areas of engineering specifically, they're often quite broad in of themselves. Elecronic and Electrical Engineering can span from computer hardware, to power and energy engineering, to telecomms engineering, to avionics and control systems in aerospace engineering. Civil engineering ranges from the usual structural engineering, including bridge design and engineering, to transport engineering and logistics, to environmental and geotechnical engineering, or even architectural engineering (i.e. building management systems, HVAC and lighting, etc). Mechanical engineering can range from automotive, to aerospace, structural engineering, product design and manufacturing engineering, materials and surface engineering, mechatronics/robotics...it often interfaces with other branches of engineering, in civil, aerospace, EE, materials, chemical etc etc. chemical engineering is often associated with petrochemical engineering but also includes aspects of biological/biochemical engineering, formulation engineering (relating to e.g. the food industry) and commonly serves as a first step to nuclear engineering (which is fairly rare as an undergraduate subject, and requires many of the same broad areas such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, reaction engineering and so on). Aerospace is fairly obvious but there are many specialised areas within it as described above, and beyond those. There are also various areas of biological engineering, including biomedical engineering (which can range from instrumentation to prosthetic manufacture and design) and agricultural engineering.
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    (Original post by geek84)
    Hi Folks

    My son had just finished sitting his GCSE exams and thinking of taking up engineering as a career.
    He is thinking of whether to study a BTec course in engineering or perhaps an apprenticship and then eventually going to university in both cases.

    Could someone be kind enough to advice us the best route to take - either BTec or apprenticeship, or are there other routes which could be better?

    Finally,he doesn't know what type of engineer he wants to be. What things does he need to take in to consideration when deciding this?

    Thanks in advance for your responses
    Please ignore anyone who tells you A-Levels as they are most likely A-Level snobs who have next to zero understanding of any industry. Apprenticeship is the first choice as he gets qualifications and experience which is preferred over any A-Level exam grades. I'd recommend A-Levels as a last resort if he doesn't get onto the BTEC.
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    Depends if he is an academic, theory based person or practical. Tbh, he needs a good balance of both.

    My cousin did a BTEC actually and is at John Moore's doing civil engineering although he initially did mechanical engineering but found it too difficult (the maths was too hard for him).

    Recently, the government has been funding degree apprenticeships: where you work and study for upto 5-6 years (I think) and at the end you get a full bachelor's.

    I'd also suggest just looking at companies offering apprenticeships. just a few companies: Intel, BAe, Range Rover, Siemens, Apple, British Telecoms, IBM... Apprenticeships are great because your son will gain exceptional experience whilst earning possibly securing a permanent job.

    To determine what sector he is interested in, he needs to read and research about current innovations, projects and products being developed in the engineering. He should also look at current engineering challenges as engineers usually have a thirst for challenges.

    Why am I interested in electrical and electronics engineering? Well I could write 10 pages on this but basically Elon Musk is my inspiration because he wants to make the human civilisation sustainable. I hope to follow a similar path by going into power engineering to develop renewable methods of generating and transmitting electricity without the emission of greenhouse gases.

    The alevel route is not for everyone as great engineers are creative, original and innovative although it is the most popular option along with gaining a full BEng or MEng.
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    Hi Folks

    Many thanks for you're replies.

    However, I don't think my son has done too well in his GCSE exams, i.e. I don't think he will get the required 5 passes between A-C. That means he may not be able to go down the A level route. On top of that, he doesn't enjoy science, particularly physics !!

    So therefore, do you think it would still be a good idea for him to consider a career in engineering?

    Thanks
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    Engineering has a lot of maths and physics in it I'm afraid but I'm sure an engineering btec will teach the required concepts of physics in a less abstract way. You will still need maths skills however he might well learn these on the job. My 40 year old uncle who never excelled in school and has always said he has found maths hard to understand, got a job at jodrell bank to work on steering and repairing the telescope. I was surprised the other day when he asked me if I could help with some maths and I said sure but then he posted me questions to do with complex numbers which I haven't covered yet since I've only done maths a-level, not further maths. From the sounds of it he's been doing maths training as part of the job I imagine so that he can progress in his job and sorta fill that engineering role .
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    (Original post by geek84)
    Hi Folks

    Many thanks for you're replies.

    However, I don't think my son has done too well in his GCSE exams, i.e. I don't think he will get the required 5 passes between A-C. That means he may not be able to go down the A level route. On top of that, he doesn't enjoy science, particularly physics !!

    So therefore, do you think it would still be a good idea for him to consider a career in engineering?

    Thanks
    What does he enjoy? Engineering involves design and use of software as well as the theoretical side. If he doesn;t want to take Physics A level then an Apprenticeship at the right level would give him a taster of 'real-life' engineering.
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    (Original post by geek84)
    Hi Folks

    Many thanks for you're replies.

    However, I don't think my son has done too well in his GCSE exams, i.e. I don't think he will get the required 5 passes between A-C. That means he may not be able to go down the A level route. On top of that, he doesn't enjoy science, particularly physics !!

    So therefore, do you think it would still be a good idea for him to consider a career in engineering?

    Thanks
    I wouldn't necessarily rule it out, however engineering is necessarily mathematical and scientific. That said, school science often tends to be rather...mixed...in teaching quality. I never particularly excelled at physics, but did well enough (ironically doing better in the more physics based aspects than others) in my stint in engineering at uni (before life got in the way ).

    Since school science tends to be presented in a fairly prescriptive way rather than in the true spirit of scientific endeavour of understanding fundamental aspects of the world around you through experimentation and mathematical modelling, not doing well isn't necessarily an indication he can't do well in such a course. However, it is undoubtedly an intellectually demanding route - careful critical thought and academic discipline are necessary to build up the requisite knowledge base, regardless of route.

    It's certainly not an "easy" option, although it's a rewarding one and dedication to the area will pay off. You should see if your sons school has any advice on the topic, or if there are any e.g. outreach/shadowing/mentoring programmes within the area he can engage in - this might help him decide if he wishes to pursue the area. Regardless, he certainly can pursue it, if he so desires, without going through an explicitly academic pathway.
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    Hi Folks

    Once again, many thanks indeed for your responses.
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    (Original post by geek84)
    Hi Folks

    Many thanks for you're replies.

    However, I don't think my son has done too well in his GCSE exams, i.e. I don't think he will get the required 5 passes between A-C. That means he may not be able to go down the A level route. On top of that, he doesn't enjoy science, particularly physics !!

    So therefore, do you think it would still be a good idea for him to consider a career in engineering?

    Thanks
    Sometimes i wish i would have taken the apprentice route! There's some really good apprenticeship schemes with big companies such as GE, Cummins, Jaguar Land Rover all which pay for you to go to uni and get a good engineering foundation whilst paying you a wage at the same time. Only reason i didn't do this is because i physically couldn't commute to any and didn't fancy leaving home before the age of 18 just for work.

    Engineering covers many aspects such as automotive, manufacturing, civil, aeronautical, marine, mechanical etc etc. I personally found it best to be general and then specialise later on when i had a better idea of things.

    A few years ago i had to use a local college's workshop for a project and was speaking to one of the Btec students who had just started their 2nd year and already had a job lined up with Kellogs on their manufacturing engineering scheme. Good vocationally taught students are in high demand, especially with the apprentice levy coming in. There's many routes into the sector and university definitely isn't the be all and end all. It would be useful if your son looked at local colleges to see what courses are available and go along to an open day if possible so he can get an idea of the different options available to him, the topics covered and the methods of assessment.

    Good Luck to your son
 
 
 
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