1) Learn fundamentals and engineering principles. Figure out how you may apply them in real-life. I knew a lot of young engineers who are good in solving engineering problems that requires equations and formulas but does not have an idea on how it may apply to real-world problems.
Engineering economy is a good example. Try to use what you have learned at school in real life. Your basic duty is to 'learn as much as you could and use what you have learned.'
Study hard and learn as much as you could. Being a student provides you an excellent avenue to learn more because you are full-time working with it.
Nowadays, a lot of working professionals do not have much liberty to learn new things because of ‘time’ and by being ‘busy at work’. We are currently in the ‘era of technology’ and every few years it progresses ‘very’ rapidly; thus, engineers should embrace change and be adaptive to this technological progress.
2) Try to expand your ‘learnings’ on every subject, especially on professional subjects. If for example, the subject covers only chapters 1-25 of the reference book in the syllabus, but the book, however, has still more than 30 chapters.
Do your best to learn from the material as much as you could. Self-study the material and try to learn anything from it. You can ask mentors for some help. Do not just read the book, do learn from it. This is the real purpose of authors.5
Great Engineers like O. Heaviside, M. Faraday, and N. Tesla have no formal education, they are purely ‘self-taught’ engineers coupled with focus, commitment, and sheer-will. They are often dubbed as an ‘Engineer’s Engineer.’
In a real-world, engineers in the field are often best-learned through ‘learning-by-doing or self-studying.’ Self-study is something that does not come easy but lasts longer. Isaac Newton did most of his work through ‘self-study’; thus, his monumental book ‘principia’ was born. Albert Einstein did also the same thing while working with the theory of relativity, and so Erwin Schrodinger as well.
3) Learn 'by-heart' the fundamentals. Fundamental theories are important for engineers. Wiring designs, skin effect, short circuit analysis, transfer function, algorithms, among others. Remember 'when the mind forgets, the heart cannot.' So, learn ‘by-heart.’
4) The real purpose of education is ‘to enhance or to improve a version of you'. A good education ‘alters a version of you’. Just like a chess player, he can improve his chess skills through practicing, mentoring, studying, etc. Do remember that ‘the only best education you can get is the education that you can give to yourself.’
5) If you are good on a particular subject and someone (a classmate for example) asks for your help; Aid him and teach him properly, not by lending answers to the problem but through teaching him on how you arrived with your answers. Help him understand the topic and he will be grateful to you. As the saying goes 'give a man fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.'
There are some unexpected cases where the person whom you help way back in college, turns out to be a manager of a certain company and a client of your project. You will never know how things may ‘turn tides’ in the future.
6) Practice your communication skills. They are often ignored but these skill sets are the most important for engineers. I knew a lot of engineers who are good in solving engineering problems but are oftentimes cannot expressed their ideas properly.
7) Enhance your interpersonal skills and learn to work as a team; be a responsible and mature individual. In a real-world project, engineers do not work in isolation, they work as a team.Just like in a basketball or in a football game, members need to work as a team to win a championship.
Professionalism is also an important factor for engineers. Show up, be on time, and dress properly. When you are given a task, commit with the task, and finish it properly. Do not abandon ship. Outstanding engineers deliver their work with quality and in time.
8) Success is really nothing but a ‘summation’ of constant practice, working sleepless nights, facing your own doubts and criticisms of others, fixed tenacity, and kept on trying after so many times of failures. It is indeed through failures that we succeed because we learned from it. Best lessons in life usually come through failures.
For young engineers, I advise to ‘take a risk’ or lose your chance. I still remember when I watched a movie entitled ‘Bar Boys’ where a Law professor once said, ‘the purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.’
9) Being engineer, a field or industry experience are of utmost importance, a practical experience is something that book can never teach you, it is through experience that an engineer is highly valuable.
For an engineering professor aspirant, I suggest gaining some years of field or industry experience before teaching in academe. Learn also to network with other engineers.
10) Pursuing graduate studies in engineering is a good investment to rebuild your relevant skills.
11) As an engineer, 'safety engineering' is one of the most important subjects. Always practice ‘safety’ whether at work or at home. It is an important duty of every engineer, whether you are a civil, electronics, architect, mechanical, electrical, chemical, sanitary, industrial, metallurgical, plumber, computer, etc.
In every work and projects, ‘safety’ should be a top concern. Many lives and properties have been damaged and lost due to negligence of safety.
12) Have an advocacy to help our environment by doing simple things like disposing your garbage properly, plant trees or backyard gardening, maintain cleanliness to our rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans, etc. Environmental degradation, global warming, climate change, among others are eminent problems nowadays.
What’s the use of being a ‘success’ if the environment around you is destroyed? There are a lot of simple things we can do to take care our environment. Have an advocacy to volunteer, there are organizations from different sectors that needs our help.
13) Teach younger generations on what you know and how to do things correctly and properly. They may keep these things in mind as they grow older and pass it to next generations. This is your legacy as an engineer.
14) Do not hurry with your dreams in life, all will take place on its proper time. In GOD’s own time. We all have our own timelines and our own crosses to carry; hence, be patient and stay calm.
Just do what you need to do and finish what you need to finish, one step at a time. Remember patience and perseverance are priceless.
15) Be humble and keep practicing humility. Humble people earn more respect. Personally, I admire people who are down-to-earth, low profile, and who works in silence. So as the saying goes ‘stay humble, work hard, and be kind.’
16) And lastly, whether you succeed or fail in life, always acknowledge the Lord. Be thankful always and ask for guidance, wisdom, and strength. You will never know how the future may ‘turn tides’ to you. Remember the story of Job in the Old Testament.