Engineering has been with us since the beginning of civilisation. From the ancient Egyptian pyramids built in 26th Century BC to modern day nanotechnology, engineering has shaped and continues to shape the world we live in.

The Concise Oxford dictionary describes an engineer as ‘a person qualified in a branch of engineering’ and engineering as ‘the application of science to the design, building and use of machines, constructions, etc.’

These descriptions however are rather anaemic and may, in part at least, be responsible for the negative view we have of engineers – men, doing manual work, and wearing overalls.

In countries such as Germany and France, engineering is associated with ingenuity - a far better interpretation.

Engineers are actually involved in a wide spectrum of activities extending from the conception, design, development and formulation of new systems and products through the implementation, production and operation of engineering systems. A career in engineering is not only interesting, well paid and rewarding, but, also brings happiness!

According to the City & Guilds Happiness Index, the highest levels of happiness amongst professionals were found among chartered engineers (18 per cent) and in a recent Daily Telegraph report, it was stated that those graduates least bored with their jobs are in the engineering and healthcare professions.

Shahana Mirza will speak at the BA Festival of Science on Wednesday September 8, 2004 about what it really means to be an engineer and throw new light on the world of engineering as one that is vibrant and challenging.

Shahana says,

‘For me, job satisfaction comes in the form of a multitude of responsibilities, variety of tasks and travelling a fair bit. Through my work as an engineer, I have had the pleasure of working in America and visiting Italy, Germany, Singapore and Egypt. I have covered an array of engineering aspects from conceptual design, detailed design, to plant operation and maintenance, and I have held previous positions in the fibres, medical and chemical manufacturing industry.

‘A career in engineering is a well paid, diverse profession that can offer responsibility, an interesting working environment and job satisfaction. At the age of 16 I had aspirations to be an engineer, and since then I have never looked back.

‘Unfortunately, negative perceptions of engineers are reinforced by the invisibility of positive aspects of engineering to society and the less than glamorous portrayal of engineers by the media. Perhaps one day, teenagers will be influenced by an ‘Engineering Idol’ rather than a ‘Pop Idol’.’

Supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the whole day promises to be a treat for all those attending with six presentations in total, a panel session and press conference.

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, the Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The BA is the UK’s nationwide, open membership organisation dedicated to connecting science with people, so that science and its applications become accessible to all. The BA aims to promote openness about science in society and to engage and inspire people directly with science and technology and their implications.
  3. The BA Festival of Science is one of the UK’s biggest science festivals. It attracts 400 of the best scientists and science communicators from home and abroad who reveal the latest developments in research to a general audience.
  4. The BA Festival of Science 2004 will take place at the University of Exeter from 6 - 10 September 2004, and throughout the city from 4 - 11 September. The engineering session, Where have all the Engineers Gone? takes place on Wednesday 8 September, 09.30 – 17.00, Queen’s Building LT2.

For more information please contact

Dr Claire McLoughlin at the Royal Academy of Engineering