graduate jobs

Engineering careers

Power & Utilities Engineering

Rundown of power and utilities engineering

We all need power! Electricity is now so valuable to everything we do that it’s almost unimaginable to think how we could function without it. Pretty much everything you do relies on getting enough ‘juice’.

Even as you read this, you are completely reliant on the steady flow of electricity that is facilitated by the good people that work in power engineering. Furthermore, the water you drink, the gas that you burn and the phones that you use for communication are all reliant on utilities engineers. Be in no doubt, this sector is extremely important!

What is power engineering?

Electricity is very much the domain of the power engineer. You will be responsible for generating the electricity, transferring it to the various distribution networks, and then ensuring its smooth delivery to the millions of businesses and homes that require it. It’s all about motors, generators and ridiculously large transformers – not to mention a whole bunch of wire chucked into the mix.

You will be required to design and construct all of these things and maintain them once they have been assembled. However, considering that most of these structures last for years and years, the majority of a power engineer’s time is spent monitoring and maintaining all of the equipment.

What is utilities engineering?

When it comes to utilities engineering, we’re largely talking about working on manufacturing plants here. Whether it’s the treatment of water or simply heating it up, it all falls under the remit of the utilities engineer. You may need to get your hands dirty once in a while. Sewers and sewage works, waste management depots and other exotic locations will request your presence.

It’s not all about water though. Gas and telephones are also part of the utilities engineer’s general diet. A lot of the processes used in this sector require an expert knowledge and application of I.T. and telecommunications technology to ensure things are running as accurately and efficiently as possible.

What will you be getting up to then? You’ll spend a lot of time discussing plans and researching various issues with clients, trying to identify the best way to address an issue or streamline a process. As such, problem-solving is an essential part of working as a power or utilities engineer.

The majority of these professionals will have a degree in engineering. However, it’s not uncommon for people to take more of a vocational route. For example, opting to train as an apprentice is a great route into this field. Having said that, be aware that you can usually be fast-tracked to certain positions quicker if you have an engineering degree.

What kinds of projects do power and utilities engineers work on?

Right, so if you’re a power engineer, you’ll be extremely well acquainted with what is known as the ‘power grid’. “What is that?” I hear you cry. Well, it’s really quite expensive for each individual to have their own generator. Consequently, a grid, or network, connects a vast amount of standalone generators that people can ‘plug’ into.

The National Grid, for example, is the UK’s power generator. The issue is: if that stops working, then things stop working. Therefore, a huge number of power engineers monitor this grid, performing maintenance, installing upgrades and generally making sure it keeps humming along.

When it comes to utilities engineers, you’ll be working at sewage plants, government agencies and a wide variety of other organisations with the sole purpose of ensuring that water, gas and telephony services are delivered to the millions of homes around the country in a safe and efficient manner.

Has this got you buzzing? Sounds like a gas? Lightened up your day? Whet your appetite? If you’re looking to be involved in a sector which benefits, well, just about everyone, whether as a trusty telephony, great gas or excellent electrical engineer, then this might just be the perfect one for you! See if there’s anything on our jobs board that will help you get one step closer to pursuing a career in this field!