A successful mechanical engineer is not just a person who is good at designs and calculations. He or she must be a good communicator as well. "Engineers have to listen to clients' requirements, and have to communicate with contractors," says Johnny Lam Kin-yuen, regional managing director of AECOM's building engineering business.
Mechanical engineers are in charge of the installation of air conditioning and electricity, and make sure the building complies with fire safety standards.
Their main duties are to perform calculations and do designs. They also need to visit construction sites to monitor the progress of contractors.
The University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University offer mechanical engineering programmes. Fresh graduates are usually employed as graduate engineers in consultant firms, or by contractors. The starting salary for engineers at consultant firms is around HK$15,000 a month.
"Engineers need five years of post-graduate work experience. They also need to submit a report recording their past five years of work, and pass a board interview. Most local engineers get their qualifications from the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers," Lam explains.
Qualified engineers can move up to project, senior, principal and associate engineer ranks. Their duty is to design, calculate and supervise less experienced colleagues.
Outstanding performers with more than 10 years of experience can move up to technical director, executive director and managing director.
"At director grade, the engineer no longer designs - he or she handles business development. One requires strong market sense. Directors have to anticipate market needs and create project proposals," says Lam, adding that mechanical engineers must be versatile in their outlook.
"The next 10 years will be prosperous for local building industries. At AECOM, we are seeking multidisciplinary individuals [for many roles]," says Lam.