3 Soft Skills Essential to Engineering Design

Image of two engineers talking illustrates

Engineering design is more than hard skills. This is a demanding field, and success requires a strong balance of technical know-how and interpersonal skills. That’s why today we bring you three soft skills essential to engineering design and how to hone them.

What Are Soft Skills?
Before we take a look at the soft skills essential to engineering design, let’s define soft skills.

Soft skills are interpersonal attributes and behaviors that help build relationships, solve problems, and communicate effectively.

By contrast, hard skills are technical abilities and knowledge that are indispensable to tackle a task. Some examples of hard skills include degrees, computer skills, and design skills.

While hard skills are particularly important in engineering design, success in this field can only be obtained by balancing both types of skills.

3 Soft Skills Essential to Engineering Design
Communication
Even the most brilliant hard skills are of little use if a design engineer can’t communicate their findings, or ask for what they need to achieve the results expected of them. Especially when dealing with clients, misunderstandings can occur easily, leading to delays, reworks, and cost overruns. Some steps that design engineers can take to hone their communication skills include:

Focus on active listening
Pay attention to body language
When writing, proofread and reread your messages
Make it a point to ask questions to ensure that you understood what the other person is trying to say
Curiosity
If you are a design engineer or aspire to become one, chances are that you grew up taking machines apart to understand how they work. This is a common manifestation of curiosity, another soft skill essential to succeed in the world of engineering design. While you may be naturally curious about machines and mechanisms, it’s important to broaden the scope of your curiosity. These are some ideas to help you do just that:

Listen non-judgmentally
Ask questions
Read about a wide variety of topics
Exchange ideas with people from different backgrounds than yours
Leadership
Leadership skills are essential if you aspire to reach an executive position. A great leader knows how to motivate, guide, and support their team. And while these abilities may appear closer to psychology than to engineering, there are things you can do to improve your leadership skills as a design engineer:

Listen effectively
Cultivate critical thinking
Seek advice from other leaders
Take a leadership course

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