Control Engineering: Graduate Area of Work
Control engineering is an emerging discipline within the engineering sector that explores the different ways in which control systems can be successfully incorporated into a system’s operations to increase its efficiency and output.
Complex and sophisticated control systems have since become an important component in the manufacturing and electrical industry, mainly for efficiency and cost-saving reasons. Control engineering helps manufacturing companies cut down on operating costs through automating more processes, and reducing margin for error.
This consequently increases the company’s competitive edge, giving it a more consistent manufacturing benchmark and improving its ability to meet the necessary environmental and quality control requirements.
Graduates working in control engineering have a large pool of employers to choose from, as nearly every industrial company will need a specialist in this field to manage and supervise their processes.
This can range from prominent names such as General Electric, ABB, and Shell, to smaller companies that develop specialist devices or equipment such as sensors or control systems.
Trends and developments in control engineering
Advancements in processor technology have filled the market with more powerful processors at lower costs, resulting in an increased number of systems and devices with built-in intelligent controllers.
Such advancements have given rise to auto-diagnostic capabilities in some applications, and control engineers may find themselves managing an entire network of interlinked auto-diagnosis systems on the job.
From a business standpoint, rising energy costs worldwide have resulted in companies tasking control engineers to place special care on reducing energy consumption at manufacturing plants and facilities.
On the other hand, advancements in wireless technology and information transfer systems have also upped the pace on plant floors, making real-time process enhancements part of a control engineer’s responsibilities.
Getting a graduate job in control engineering
This particular field of engineering is somewhat more selective than the others in the sense that recruiters often do not hire based on engineering discipline.
Control engineering jobs need specific sets of skills for specific processes, so interested graduates will be evaluated more on the range of integrated skills they have to offer as opposed to theoretical knowledge.
Still, one particularly favoured degree in this line of work is software engineering, as control engineers will often have to oversee and troubleshoot the software used in controller systems as well.
Most major companies have training programmes and recruitment schemes where they will put graduates through different areas of work (e.g. R&D, production, maintenance, etc.) to decide which ones best suit your skills and interests.
The highlights and the downsides of a career in control engineering
You’ll experience a diverse range of tasks in this line of work – from designing control systems, developing and testing them, to reporting on their effectiveness and efficiency. Engineers in this line of work claim that being able to see a complete system come together from start to finish – as well as the improved efficiency to a process that comes with it – is highly satisfying.
The downside to this profession, however, is that the starting salaries tend to be on the lower side. Also, this is a line of work that is tied to production schedules and deadlines, so expect long or irregular working hours whenever production deadlines draw near.