So, you think you can engineer? Ramp up your resume with these extracurricular industry comps.
Engineering degrees are far from cruisy. Between the assignments, exams and internships it can be hard to find five minutes to chill, let alone do more out-of-hours stuff that doesn’t officially count towards your final marks. But what if we told you that you could meet your future employer while you’re programming a robot at an extracurricular engineering challenge?
Maria Antwan, civil engineer, seasoned job interviewer and director of NWD Design & Build stresses the importance of putting your hand up for all that extra stuff. “The easy option when you’re at university might be to play video games in your spare time,” she says. “However, undertaking activities related to your engineering degree shows an employer you genuinely enjoy what you’re studying, which makes you an attractive candidate.”
And with job-search giants Seek stressing that employers are placing increasing value on the interpersonal skills learnt through practical, collaborative learning – there’s never been a better time to skill up out of hours.
Whether chemical, civil, software, mechanical or biomedical engineering is your thing, there are loads of competitions to pop in your iCalendars. Keep an eye on careerswithstem.com for the updated list.
RoboCup, June 22-28, 2021
If you’re a wannabe software engineer, this comp is the ultimate. RoboCup requires participants to design and build robots to play against each other in an epic game of football, with the ultimate goal of creating a team capable of beating humans come 2050.
Skill-up in: programming, AI development and serious teamwork.
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iGem, 2021 dates TBC
The iGem (International Genetically Engineered Machine) comp invites students to solve problems unique to their communities in synthetic biology, biosafety and biosecurity. Teams are given a kit of interchangeable biological parts to build, measure and test using standard molecular biology techniques. First place gets a bigger-than-life-size metal LEGO brick!
Skill-up in: Advanced synthetic biology, innovation and real-world problem-solving.
Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, October 22-30, 2021
Into STEM + epic road trips? Participants engineer and build a solar-powered vehicle and power it for real from the NT to Adelaide. Once the teams have left Darwin they must travel as far as they can each day before setting up camp wherever they end up come 5pm. Yep, even if it’s the desert.
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Skill-up in: Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, renewable energy engineering and advanced map-reading smarts
Gravity Challenge, 2020 dates TBC
Participating teams from startups and unis have six weeks to develop solutions to real-world business challenges using Deloitte’s space data capabilities, on topics ranging from transport through to telecommunication, environmental and reforestation projects.
Skill-up in: Everything! Innovation, out-of-the-box thinking, construction, data science and strategy.
Not convinced that putting in the extra hours will pay off? Maria assures us otherwise. “Anything you do on top of university shows initiative – which is really important in the workplace,” she says. “Engineering challenges are a great exercise in creativity! They demonstrate that you have strong, out-of-the-box thinking skills.”
- Apart from (hopefully) landing you a job, engineering comps are also awesome for: Meeting like-minded people! Don’t forget to swap socials afterwards.
- Finding a mentor! Often there are seriously inspiring experts floating around and helping out.
- Learning about the way you work! Didn’t know you were a leader? Or that you were so into the planning process? Discovering your learning style can be invaluable.
- Developing interpersonal skills, like time management, decision-making and collaboration smarts.
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2020.
Author: Cassie Steel
As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.