The grid below shows the main skills that will enable you to make a success of a university engineering course. You will pick up some of them at school and you can supplement your problem solving using this web site.
An interest in engineering
Motivation is vital to successfully complete a degree. At school it is often clear what work needs to be done. At university there is more freedom and it is up to you to take advantage of the various educational opportunities that are on offer. Highly motivated students thus get the most out of university.
Knowledge and understanding of maths and physics
You need to have the right background knowledge to start the course. Don’t confine your knowledge rigidly to the syllabus defined by your exam board. University study involves considering subjects more broadly.
Relate your studies to the real world
At interview it will probably count in your favour if you demonstrate that you understand the practical consequences of the material that you have been taught in maths and science.
Problem solving skills
Professional work in engineering often involves solving problems. It is good to get experience with problem solving, either in practice or in theory. This web site provides a source of problems for you to try.
Communication and inter-personal skills
A lot of engineering involves communication and teamwork. Engineers often have to win contracts by convincing the client that they are the best candidate to do the work. They then have to manage their team to ensure that the work is completed in time and on budget.
An ability to work independently and efficiently
Elite engineering courses involve a lot of work. You need to be able to get through your work efficiently and still leave time for relaxation and a balanced lifestyle. This requires an organised approach, self-discipline and time management skills.
A good opportunity to gain further relevant skills can come from a job, either in your school holidays, or during a gap-year between school and university. The Engineering Development Trust organise the Year in Industry Scheme to help gap-students get jobs. They also run Headstart courses for 16 and 17 year old students. Other opportunities are provided by the Smallpiece Trust and the Sutton Trust.