Essential qualities of an engineer

Qualities of an engineerAre you busy filling out forms for various engineering entrance exams? Have you considered if you have the right temperament to be an engineer? Certain characteristics of an engineer can be helpful for doing well in the field. Find out if you might have the typical qualities of an engineer:

Critical thinking

Engineers are problem solvers. For your laptop to work faster, an electrical engineer must find out how to redesign existing electrical components. Once the concept is constructed, manufacturing engineers must discover how to produce the new components on a large scale for the consumer market. These new iterations of products and procedures require engineers to solve problems and work through possible solutions.

Open mind & positive attitude

If engineers are to solve challenging technical problems, they should be imaginative and optimistic. It is this attitude that can enable them to be successful.


Engineers should be practical and resourceful. They need to rely on concepts and know when to refer to books and engineering guides to solve a problem. their practical knowledge should come handy when needed.

Implementing ideas

A researcher brainstorms ideas and experiments to explore its potential. Whereas an engineer develops a practical solution under time & budget constraints and implements it in a real-world environment.


Teamwork among engineers is almost always required to complete a job, as most jobs require several engineers to complete. A carton of milk might require several engineers to design the package, test its performance and then produce the end product. Something more complex such as an engine may need hundreds of engineers during development. An engineer should be comfortable working in teams and communicating effectively, negotiating, creating relationships with colleagues, giving feedback and motivating colleagues.

Strategic designer

Innovative products are the result of strategic and planned thinking, which is an important characteristic of engineers. This attribute clearly identifies a specific aim to solve the problem, the ability to tap into collective knowledge, link unrelated concepts to construct new thoughts and experiment to create technical leaps forward.

Ethics practitioner

The engineer should apply laborious thinking and make ethical and morally sound decisions. Engineering societies have developed a code of engineering ethics to enable engineers to speak up if they predict and anticipate faults or snags with a solution.


Engineers are intrigued by how things work and the science behind it. Many take apart their toys at a young age in order to discover how to put them back together. This attribute is important because engineers need to understand a product before implementing changes.


Engineers might sense an opportunity where others perceive a problem. They are realistic and practical. This ability stimulates the questioning minds of engineers and helps them use scientific knowledge and create technical and methodological solutions.

Desire to continuously learn

Technology and scientific knowledge are expanding at a rapid rate. Engineers should be able to keep themselves up to date in their skills and knowledge in their area of expertise and in general.

Other skills that make a good engineer include:

1. Proficiency in maths and science, computer literacy (Also read: Importance of Mathematics and Science in Engineering)
2. Identifying and defining problems

Assess and see if you have the aptitude to be an engineer:

Answer the following questions with a yes or no to assess your engineering aptitude. Every ‘yes’ carries 1 point. The more you score, the lesser is your engineering aptitude.  

  1. Math and Science are boring subjects.
  2. You are not curious about how things work.
  3. You do not look for doing things in a new way.
  4. A gift says “assembly required”, you put it aside.
  5. You don’t enjoy working on computers and playing video games.
  6. You hate solving mazes and jigsaw puzzles.
  7. People around avoid your decision and opinion.
  8. It’s always difficult for you to express yourself clearly in a precise fashion.
  9. You hate doing things in an independent way.
  10. You avoid reasoning out problems.

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