“Mechanical engineers design, maintain, repair and operate everything we need in our daily lives now, and in the future they will deliver the solutions to sustain and protect human society’s existence.” – Institute of Mechanical Engineers
In the first part of the Spotlight Careers series we took a look into the world of dentistry. The next profession to feature in the series is engineering. I had the opportunity to speak with Aimen Al-Diwani, a mechanical engineer at KBR.
KBR are one of the leading engineering, construction and services company, supporting the energy, petrochemicals, government services, and civil infrastructure globally.
The discipline of engineering is extremely broad; it encompasses a range of specialized fields each with a specific focus. There are four major recognised branches in engineering; chemical, electrical, mechanical, and civil. Beyond these four there are numerous inter-disciplinary branches. Modern fields include, but are not limited to, aeronautical, biomechanical, mechatronics, and nano-engineering.
Aimen works in the energy sector; which deals with one of the largest global problems in the twenty-first century. As a mechanical engineer, Aimen was interested in working on large scale problems, such as the energy crisis. His current job offers him just that, allowing him to work in the oil and gas sector, and be part of running a large scale project. As an individual, Aimen says he is interested in the wide level effects of his actions.
Mechanical engineers provide efficient solutions to the development of processes and products, ranging from small component designs to extremely large plant, machinery or vehicles. They can work on all stages of a product, from research and development to design and manufacture, through to installation and final commissioning.
There are no typical projects for mechanical engineers; their work varies significantly depending upon the company they work for. The motivation for working on large-scale projects is what lead Aimen to KBR. With the knowledge that KBR are a global company in the field, that runs successful large-scale projects; ; Aimen was attracted to working with them.
Mechanical engineering is seen as being the most diverse of all the engineering disciplines. As such, the employment opportunities in this sector are wide ranging. Mechanical engineers can be involved in the management of people and resources, as well as the development and use of new materials and technologies.
The entry requirements for engineering vary according to each institution; however, all universities will expect those applying for mechanical engineering degrees to have a strong academic background in mathematics and physics. , Other sciences, such as chemistry, are also beneficial. Some universities offer the option to take a foundation year if you do no match the entry requirements.
The estimated starting salaries for engineers and for those on graduate training schemes are in the range of £22,000 to £28,000. Engineers who have practical experience can expect to see that increase to between £26,000 and £35,000. The salaries for mid-level lead or principle engineers are around £35,000 to £50,000. At a senior level, such as chief engineer, one can expect to achieve anywhere between £45,000 and £60,000+.
Of course salaries vary from company to company and some sectors attract higher salaries, according to demand, but in the field there is a very high level of career progression. Self-employment and freelance work are possible for qualified engineers with a good track record and experience.
Mechanical engineering can be a very tough and stressful job, it is important to leave work at the office. Outside of his career, Aimen is a very active volunteer in the community and within IUS. He finds volunteering interesting and fulfilling. In any job which has higher than average stress levels it’s important to be doing other activities outside of work. This is a good habit, which can, and should be, developed whilst at university and seamlessly transferred over into working life.
Mr Al-Diwani said “I’m definitely prepared to sleep a few hours less to contribute to areas where I feel great responsibility towards, which is volunteering, because there seems to be less people who volunteer than people who would compete for a job vacancy for example.”
“Having said that after university and marriage I realised about the other areas of my life, like family, that equally also require time and so as with most things, it’s a juggling act, but as long as I get a few tasks done per day within reason, I try to fairly allocate time where needed.”
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Written by Hameed Mozaffari