MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) engineers give life to buildings and make them habitable. Think of the drainage, lighting, and heating systems in every building. MEP engineers are responsible for designing these components and making them work together. Based on my experiences in this industry, I’ve compiled a list of the top skills required for MEP engineers.
Most important skills for an MEP engineer
My MEP industry experience includes working for two engineering consulting firms and a government agency. Due to my studies, my experiences are more electrical heavy, however the skills listed are needed regardless of discipline. Don’t be discourage if you aren’t familiar with some of the technical skills, these can be learned on the job.
2D CAD (computer-aided design)
Drawings are the primary way you communicate your designs, so experience in drafting is necessary. Historically, AutoCAD has been an industry standard, but I’ve also seen Microstation used. They’re both very powerful CAD tools and popular amongst all disciplines.
BIM (building information modelling)
In recent years BIM has caught on in popularity and transformed the building design world. The most popular one off the top of my head is Revit. Engineers tend to have mixed feelings about BIM. Some say its ability to link information to its drawings is a great feature. Others argue that it slows down the drafting process. Like it or not, it’s certainly moving the industry and a great tool to know.
Practical construction knowledge
Inexperienced MEP designers sometimes overlook the disconnect between their designs and what goes on at the construction site. After all, engineers design plans in an office while contractors put them into action on site. Because of this, engineers can accidentally make nonsensical designs due to their inexperience in the construction field. Luckily many MEP designer roles come with the occasional construction site visits. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to pick up some practical knowledge.
Building codes and standards
Familiarity with regional codes or standards makes you an efficient designer. This being said, you don’t need to memorize them! Instead, knowing that certain rules exist can speed up the work process. For example, the process of specifying wires can be sped up with the knowledge of electrical safety codes that dictate their minimum size. Knowing that there’s rule for this helps you out, but there’s no need to explicitly memorize the wire sizes. Naturally when you do the work enough, you’ll eventually know small things like this by heart. However it’s important to not get complacent. Regardless of how experienced you are, regularly keeping yourself up-to-date with standards is a must.
Client-facing roles are extremely prevalent in this industry. They need to clearly get their ideas across while maintaining good relations with clients. Therefore engineers need to have strong verbal and written communication skills. This skill is needed in all jobs, but is especially important if you’re dealing with clients.
Similar to communication, teamwork is needed in all jobs. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of MEP industry, it’s especially advantageous to be good with teamwork. You’ve got architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, etc. Projects are an iterative process with plenty of back-and-forths between teams. While working on a project, you’re required to coordinate designs with other disciplines. Having excellent teamwork skills definitely makes your experience in the industry more enjoyable for both yourself and the people around you.
Interested in working as an MEP engineer?
Great news! There are plenty of companies worldwide to apply to, from newly established to older reputable MEP consulting firms.
If you are just entering this into this field, be sure to check out my guide for writing resumes without work experience. Make yourself a competitive job applicant by putting focus on how your experiences helped you develop these essential skills.