Top 5 Things Aspiring Engineers Should Know About

Contrary to popular belief, engineering is about more than just hammers and nails. As any aspiring engineer can tell you, there is a whole world of untapped possibilities for engineers who know how to use any and all of the tools at their disposal, whether that means staying traditional or getting a little out of their comfort zones.

Don’t listen to the marketing teams. When it comes to engineering, there is no one tool that does all. To be the best engineer that you can be, you’ll need to have a firm grasp on a wide variety of tools, tech, and information. The five things listed in this article can help aspiring engineers prepare for a lifetime of solving complex problems, mechanical or otherwise.

Aspiring Engineers


Do not underestimate the oscilloscope. Oscilloscopes have been around for more than 100 years, dating back to the late 19th century, yet they are still widely used in pretty much all fields of engineering today. In fact, you might even say that oscilloscopes are one of the most important tools in any engineering lab.

But what do they do? As Mark Gordon, CEO of Circuit Specialists, says, “A standard oscilloscope provides engineers with a visual monitor for the voltage of a circuit, but that’s only the standard. There’s much more to a modern oscilloscope than just that.”

The original oscilloscopes were simply a screen that would light up when subjected to electrical activity. However, modern oscilloscopes provide a range of functions ranging from demonstrating wave-function harmonics to visually monitoring the health of a human heart.

When it comes to circuitry and electrical engineering, you’re going to need an oscilloscope.

Generation IV Nuclear Reactors

If you plan on going into the world of nuclear engineering, chances are you’ve at least heard the phrase “next gen nuclear reactor.” If you follow politics, you might even be familiar with the phrase. 2020 Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has spoken loudly and proudly about the benefits of thorium reactors.

To put it simply, generation IV nuclear reactors are the future of nuclear power. Whereas generation III reactors are known for their production of hazardous waste, generation IV reactors are theorized to be capable of producing only a fraction of that waste while also generating far more energy with fewer materials.

These reactors currently come in six possible configurations, each with its own costs and benefits. Unfortunately, neither of the six configurations has yet been able to reach the large-scale demonstration phase. Molten-salt reactors in particular have been lagging behind the others by quite a bit.

Nanotransfer Printing

The run to the hardware store has become a symbol of just about any form of amatuer engineering, regardless of the field. But what if you didn’t have to leave your workshop in order to obtain high-quality parts? That’s the goal of research into nanotransfer printing.

Nanotransfer printing is a form of 3d printing pertaining specifically to the printing of metal components and hardware. Through the use of highly detailed adhesive layering, researchers have discovered a method of printing metal components that are accurate down to the last nanometer.

Great news! This technology is already reaching commercial viability, meaning that it could be within your price range in the next few years. That would enable you to custom-make your project’s components without ever having to beg the owner of the local hardware store to place a custom order every couple hours once you notice you need something else.

Microsoft Excel

If you’re like most people, you probably dread the sight of an Excel spreadsheet. It’s no secret that Microsoft Excel has quite a steep learning curve, but there’s also a reason that almost all professionals in any walk of life have at least a basic familiarity with the software.

When it comes to engineering, things are no different. Microsoft Excel can be a powerful tool for engineers because of all of the functions that it brings to the table. Regardless of your chosen specialty, whether you want to be an electrical engineer or a software engineer, you’re going to have to make use of data.

Considering that Microsoft Excel was literally designed to enable professionals to make use of data, you might be able to see the utility of this tool. When an engineer needs to have quick access to details about thousands of programs, clients, or even tools, Excel can make that happen in a matter of seconds.

Software Engineering

Although software engineering is a field of its own, it’s also a great skill for any engineer to have. In today’s economy, more and more companies are turning to software for use in their day-to-day operations. In fact, in 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the job growth for software developers was 21%, or “much faster than average.”

Whether you wind up in a lab, in a workshop, or somewhere less traditional, chances are pretty high that you’re going to be relying on some kind of software to accomplish your goals. So what do you do when the software doesn’t quite cut it and there’s no suitable substitute on the market? You create your own programs.

With a firm knowledge of code, you can tweak your company’s software and computer systems to produce whatever effects that you desire. With the help of your newfound mastery of Microsoft Excel, this can render data processing as fast as the click of a button, rather than a dreaded end-of-week engineering assignment.


These five tools are among the most important and most widely used tools in the world of engineering, regardless of the specialty that you intend to go into. Even if you’re not at all interested in becoming a nuclear engineer, for instance, you can still make use of the knowledge of fourth generation nuclear reactors.

At the end of the day, knowledge is power. With the knowledge of these five items under your belt, your cover letter will be one of the most powerful on the hiring manager’s desk!

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Hunter Amato
He is a graduate of Florida State University with multiple degrees spanning a wide variety of subjects. He aims to bring his diverse knowledge to bear in his professional pursuits in a way that helps further his blossoming career as a writer. He is currently living New York City and aspires to create and run his own software company.