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How Do I Become a Control Systems Engineer?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2014
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There are three items required to become a control systems engineer: post-secondary training, related work experience, and completing the job interview process. A control systems engineer is responsible for managing the implementation of large production systems. Common examples include water management equipment, power transformers, and central vacuum systems.

People who are mechanically inclined, detail-oriented, and have excellent interpersonal skills find this type of career rewarding. They typically work in the manufacturing sector and are usually employed by either an engineering services firm or a production machine supplier. In this role, they must utilize project management and engineering skills to ensure a smooth transition to the on-site engineering team.

The first requirement to become a control systems engineer is to complete a post-secondary education program in engineering. There is a wide range of engineering disciplines, but most control systems engineers are mechanical or production engineers. A professional designation as an engineer (P.Eng) is required to work in this role. Additional courses and a written examination are required to obtain this professional designation.

Admissions to an engineering degree program require high marks in high school calculus, algebra, physics, technology, and English courses. These programs are very competitive, with the best schools requiring personal essay, interviews, and references as part of the application process. The tuition fee to become a control systems engineer is higher than a bachelor of arts degree, as this is a professional program.

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There are two areas of related work experience required to become a control systems engineer: engineering experience and project management experience. Typically, control systems engineers have at least 10 years' experience as a production or mechanical engineer in the manufacturing industry. Project management experience can be obtained through standard engineering projects or through a consulting service.

Keep in mind that project management experience can be obtained outside the engineering work environment. Managing a large project for a volunteer agency, such as engineers without borders, local community organization projects or projects through the local engineering school are all options. Management is a skill that is learned best through activity.

During the job interview process, take the time to prepare for the interview. Think of a list of standard interview questions and prepare your answers in advance. Take your time and answer all the questions to the best of your abilities. Many engineers find that a course in public speaking or presentations is very helpful when working to become a control systems engineer.

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umbra21
Post 3

@bythewell - The problem is that the job market is getting so competitive. You'd think that would make people become more personable in order to improve their chances of getting a job. But unfortunately, it also ups the competition at the schooling level.

There might only be a few control systems engineer jobs going for a given class of students. And as much as the interviewers will love joking around with one of the applicants, they are still going to hire the one with the best grades.

So, I think people have more and more pressure to stay in their rooms and study, rather than learn how to get on with others. Just my opinion.

bythewell
Post 2

@indigomoth - I think if you are open to others and try to be as helpful as you can when going out on your work experience, you will do alright.

Most people do seem to be able to get along with others. I know that engineers have a reputation as being anti-social, I guess because of the science/mathematics aspect of the job, but most of the engineers I've met have been pretty awesome to work with.

They know how to work hard, but also how to relax and have fun when the job calls for it.

indigomoth
Post 1

Aside from the mechanical expertise, it seems like this job is the same as any other job in that interpersonal skills really make a difference.

Even in the three major things you need to get the job, it is apparent.

You might be able to make it through school without interpersonal skills (although it would be tough!) but related work experience implies that someone is going to be giving you a reference, and of course, a job interview is also key.

Even if you are the best engineer in the world, you won't get a good reference if you can not get on with your colleagues. Because when it comes down to it, they want a group who can act as a team, not a single bright spark who annoys and isolates everyone else.

I don't think schools focus enough on this aspect of life, myself, but hopefully most people muddle through and learn eventually.

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