Today's engineering society has developed step by step. Engineers have always worked within a context of scientific knowledge, available skills and tools, and set rules that govern their behaviour. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to some of the basics of engineering and to explore how engineering is done. Of course, you will first need to understand what engineering is.
You probably have your own ideas regarding what is meant by the term 'engineering', depending on your interests and background. Your ideas may be shaped by experiences you have had in the workplace or maybe by the different ways engineering is represented in the media. As you progress through this course, you will start to get a fuller understanding of exactly what is meant by the term 'engineering'.
For the moment, it is sufficient to consider engineering as being about problem solving. If you have ever put up some shelves, or exercised your DIY skills to make something useful from scratch, then you have probably done some engineering along with some element of design. If you tackled the problem yourself from scratch, without being provided with a starting point, then in general terms you have had to create a design to meet your purpose, organise your resources and fabricate your product. This type of approach is essentially the same as that taken by professional engineers; that is why we would consider shelf assembly to be engineering. However, professional engineers have to be able to handle projects of greater scale and complexity. To do this efficiently and effectively requires a wider range of skills, developed through education, training and experience.
Skills such as management, financial planning, mathematical aptitude and business strategy all fall within the scope of the professional engineer. This course does not attempt to teach these skills, but within it you will find pointers towards them and their significance in the engineering context.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in Engineering.