noun: a person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines, or in any of various branches of engineering
It is indisputable that engineering built and fuels every modern-day metropolis. Major cities worldwide house the tallest skyscrapers, a complex system of throbbing highways, subways, skyways as well as state-of-the-art airports and seaports. Full head transplants are now possible, cars drive themselves, and drones take wedding pictures. From the mega infrastructures that shape landscapes to the mobiles apps at our fingertips, we have engineers and other men of science to thank.
May 13 is Global Engineering Day. Today, we pay tribute to the profession and field of study that has always pushed mankind’s known limitations a little bit further. It is also to underscore the need for a stronger mandate among governments to promote science and technology, as well as different branches of engineering as competitive and fulfilling career tracks.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc. (IEEE), the world’s largest organization of technical professionals with over 350,000 members in 160 countries, stresses the need to encourage more students and young professionals to pursue a career in this track in the face of a global decrease of students entering the engineering, computing and technology fields.
Many reasons to be an engineer
Recent studies show that engineering jobs are the most financially promising. The Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce listed petroleum, oil and mining, and metallurgical engineers as the most highly paid globally while chemical, electrical, and aerospace engineers closely follow.
Moreover, Forbes America writes that the demand for engineers has continuously grown in double digits from 2010-2014, especially for the following positions: petroleum engineers (30%), mining and geological engineers (12%), biomedical engineers (10%), and industrial engineers (10%). Overall, the number of available engineering jobs grew an average of 7%.
In the Philippine setting, an article by broadsheet columnist Wilson Lee Flores argues that engineering also provides an excellent foundation for future business pursuits due to its technical and systematic approach to problem solving. In fact, Flores notes that some of the wealthiest Filipino tycoons have engineering degrees under their belts like chemical engineer Lucio Tan, civil engineer David Consunji, and mechanical engineer Ramon Ang.
Many Filipino engineers have successfully gained international distinctions, promoting the Filipino brand of innovation and excellence abroad. Some of the most respected Filipino engineers in contemporary times are Diosdado Banatao, Leon Chua, and Edward Caro. Banatao is credited for the first single-chip, 16-bit microprocessor-based calculator. Meanwhile, Chua’s circuit was after its Filipino inventor Leon Chua. Finally, Caro served as space engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States for 42 years.
Studying engineering in PH
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) recently recorded that the enrollment rate in the field of engineering has continuously grown since 2005 to 2014. In fact, there are currently almost half a million college students enrolled in engineering and technology courses all over the country, making it the 3rd most popular next to business and education degrees.
Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) recorded that engineering positions are also the hardest to fill despite the number of graduates. Some of the cited reasons are the applicants’ lack of the required competency, skill and the required license. Many graduates also choose to pursue engineering careers abroad, among other reasons.
The top Philippine universities based on their passing rates in different engineering licensure exams are the University of the Philippines – Los Banos (UPLB), University of the Philippines – Diliman (UPD), Central Mindanao University (CMU), Mindanao State University (MSU-Iligan), and Mapua Institute of Technology.
Government initiatives show support to engineers
The Government, through its agencies and departments, has introduced projects to assist and encourage Filipino engineers.
Take for example the Cadet Engineering Program (CED) of the Department of Public Works and Highways. CED is an innovative program introduced at by DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson in 2013 as part of the Department’s investment in human resources development to set new entry standards for civil engineers in the bureaucracy.
Interested graduates of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering course aged 21 to 25 years old with above average general weighted scholastic performance and board rating in the Civil Engineering licensure examination given by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) may apply and vie for the 40 positions open for each batch of cadets.
In the field of information and communications technology (ICT), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) ICT Office has partnered with the country’s largest association of software companies, the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) in putting together the first annual software engineering conference of its kind in the country- SOFTECH.PH. Last year’s SOFTECH.PH was attended by more than 500 software engineers, developers and programmers in a whole day conference conducted by the different experts in today’s most relevant and important ICT and software industry topics.
Ultimately, the goal of SOFTECH.PH is to elevate the overall quality brand of Filipino software professionals through continuous knowledge-sharing and training.