From a kid to an engineer (By Building Services Division)

Throughout the years, there have been numerous professional engineers who contributed themselves to the continuous development of our community. Engineers see themselves as bright, articulate, honest, responsible, conscientious and capable.1 However, the general public do not view engineers in the same way as we do: Engineering is often portrayed as a dull, unsociable subject, male-dominated and without any human touch.2

Still there are kids who dream to be an engineer and are willing to put-in efforts to make their dreams come true. Although the reasons why they would like to join the engineering industry diverse, most of them bear a belief that they would make Hong Kong a better place and improve our living standards.

Here are some advice to the teenagers who are planning to join the engineering industry:

  1. Be technically competent:

    Although it has been commented that "An engineer is hired for her or his technical skills, fired for poor people skills, and promoted for leadership and management skills"3, technical skills remain the key competence for a professional engineer.

    Technical knowledge can be obtained by various methods. The fundamental knowledge are being covered in secondary curriculum in the subjects physics, chemistry, design & technology, etc., while advanced knowledge can be sought through workshops, seminars, literatures and journals of professional institutions.

    The earlier the youngster are in reach of professional knowledge, the better they can prepare for their study in university and for their careers.

  2. Develop an engineering mindset:

    Besides technical competence, engineering mindset is also important for a professional engineer. As someone who bear the responsibility to plan, execute and monitor a project, a professional engineer is expected to acquire certain personal qualities which contribute to the development of one's engineering mindset - innovative thinking, interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, time management skills, continuous improvement, to name but a few.

    Almost all engineers would agree that engineering judgment is indispensable to the successful practice of engineering.4 Although an engineering judgment may be the result after several consultations, calculations and analyses, most of the early judgments were based on experience and precedents – the core value of engineering mindset.

    Benefited from the promotion of STEM Education by the Education Bureau and their "Business-School Partnership Programme", lots of opportunities are provided to primary and secondary students nowadays. Engineering related activities, including competitions, training camps, site visits or even overseas tours are organised by the HKIE and various organisations every year, which greatly enhanced students' exposure and experience. In some programmes, students can also shadow practicing engineers and observe how they actually perform their duties in a professional and ethical manner.

  3. Willingness for lifelong learning and upholding of professional status:

    Facing this ever changing world, professional engineers are expected to put lifelong learning into action. It is expected that they should at all-time continue their professional development throughout their careers and should keep current in their specialty fields by engaging in professional practice, participating in continuing education courses, reading technical literature, and attending professional meetings and seminars.

    Furthermore, it is necessary for engineers to uphold their dignity, to polish their technical skills from time to time and to advance themselves in technical knowledge in order to lead the industry forward. According to the US National Society of Professional Engineers, engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest, and, engineers are encouraged to participate in civic affairs; career guidance for youths; and work for the advancement of the safety, health, and well-being of their community.5 It is particularly important that engineers place service before profit, the honor and standing of the professional before personal advantage, and the public welfare above all other considerations.

    Illustrating the pathway and the qualities required for a professional engineer, Past President of The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Ir Prof K K CHOY once said, "…like many other professionals, engineers are expected to engage in lifelong learning as technological changes are happening rapidly around them.… When we study something we are truly interested in, definitely we are keen to spend our time on it, plus we enjoy the learning process as well. Finally, our passion will extend to be our motivation for work naturally".6

    Welcome on-board if you are passionate to join the engineering industry. Stay cautious, stay curious and bright careers shall be ahead.

Written by Mr Kevin Chow from the Building Services Division of the HKIE

  1. Yurtseven, H. O. (2002). How does the image of engineering affect student recruitment and retention? A perspective from the USA. Global J. of Engng. Educ6(1), 17-23.
  2. Chan, T. (2017). Presidential Address 2017/2018. Hong Kong EngineerVol. 45, pp 26-32.
  3. Russell, J. et al., 1996. Consensus! Students Need More Management Education. Journal of Management in Engineering, 12(6), pp.17–29.
  4. Kulhawy, F. H., & Phoon, K. K. (1996). Engineering judgment in the evolution from deterministic to reliability-based foundation design. In Proceedings of Uncertainty (Vol. 96, pp. 29-48).
  5. NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers. from
  6. Choy, K.K. (2012). A lifelong passion in engineering. IVE Newsletter, Issue #11, pp4-5
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