Gaining Entry into An Engineering Postgraduate

Dr Manal Mohsen Abood of the Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur (IUKL) shares a step-by-step guide on how to get started in postgraduate engineering.
Dr Manal Mohsen Abood
Head of Postgraduate Programme in the Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur (IUKL)

Dr Manal Mohsen Abood is currently the Head of Postgraduate Programme in the Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur (IUKL). She has more than 15 years of industrial experience and about six years of academic experience. Her areas of interest are water resources engineering, hydrology and sediment transport, hydro-modelling, GIS modelling as well as water and wastewater treatment. 

There is a continuous and growing demand for engineers not only in this country but all over the world. As industries and technologies become more sophisticated, the skills that one has obtained in their undergraduate degree may no longer be sufficient to drive one’s career to greater heights. Degree graduates should continue to pursue their postgraduate studies as those who do so will have a higher chance to climb up the ladder of the organisation they are working with. 

Toughing it out

To put it simply, engineering courses are pretty tough.  If you do not have the patience and the curiosity to see how things work from beginning to the end, this is may not be the right course for you. Engineering involves a lot of problem-solving; hence, you will need to have the drive to tackle challenging problems. 

Gaining entry may not be a problem if you meet the requirements on paper, but to stay and succeed with flying colours would indeed be very challenging. Your inclination and hard work will help a great deal but only through self-motivation will you be able to overcome deficits. As long as you have that drive, you will not only succeed in your studies, but also in your career in the future.

Before you start

Graduate school often requires an investment of time and money. It may be useful for potential students to have a clear understanding of their goals prior to enrolment. Goals may help motivate you while you are attending school. 

In order to advance your educational goals, it is helpful to have a clear understanding of your current circumstances. Before you start filling out forms and write essays, consider how your academic and professional profile will look to the faculty members reviewing your application and how it will compare to those of your peers.

3 reasons why you should get a postgraduate 

  • You get to know more about the subjects that you love, increase your knowledge and expertise as well as experience intellectual growth. You can go on to do higher level work that is stimulating, challenging and ultimately, more rewarding.
  • There will be more job opportunities available to you in your chosen field as some jobs require a higher qualification. Your postgraduate qualification will also provide you with the opportunity to change careers and launch you into a different immersion.
  • Build networking opportunities. While you are doing your postgraduate, you may also make some professional and personal contacts along the way with like-minded people who are equally ambitious and passionate about what they do.     

5 things to considering during your application 

1. Interest

Choose a field of study that interests you, and identify a programme that is most suitable for you. Choosing well and carefully will not only increase your expertise and knowledge of the field, it will also be more rewarding for your career in a long run.

2. Expert supervisor

Seek out a good and professional supervisor with lots of experience and knowledge of the field. Your supervisor is important as he or she will be the one to assist you throughout your studies. 

3. Funding

Funding is important for you to be able to conduct your research. The lack of funding will delay your research and impede your postgraduate progress. Seek funding from both internal and external parties.

4. Duration of study

Be aware of the duration of study as you need to consider how many years you will need to complete the programme. Conduct thorough planning and decide if you are more suited for part-time or full-time studies. 

5. Environment

You should choose a campus and environment that makes you comfortable and is conducive to your students. You also need to check the facilities available in order to be able to use the laboratories for your research.

5 things to avoid during your application

1. Avoid repeated research

You have to use your own idea and research capability to prepare your research proposal. Seek new and original ideas instead of rehashing old research.

2. Make sure your applications are not void

Check and validate your application thoroughly. Make sure that you have completed all sections of your application before submitting it. 

3. Do not provide outdated/unreachable reference

You may need to provide your latest references if it has been a while since you graduated. Your referees are the ones who will support your application. They should be able to comment on your potential to undertake your postgraduate studies. 

4. Advisable to have work experience

It is advisable to gather some work experience first before doing so. Some students would prefer to continue Masters immediately after they have completed their undergraduate. Of course, you may do so, but there is a chance that you might find yourself overqualified for certain jobs as a fresh graduate. 

5. Know your needs

Whether you choose research or coursework for your Masters will very much depend on your personal need. You must know your main goal when you choose to undertake your postgraduate.