Q: What does a sports engineer do? What careers can be pursued by a sports engineer?
A: Sports engineering is the application of engineering principles to solve problems in sports. Applications include designing sports equipment, building sports facilities, analysing athlete performance, developing performance and safety standards, and developing coaching and training tools. In a technology-driven world, the importance of technology or engineering is increasing in sports too, whether it is in coaching, equipment or analysis, starting from the designing of a cricket bowling machine to the designing of a motorbike for motorsports, to the analysis of the performance of an athlete or improvements in umpiring. If you love sports and have knowledge of technology, then this may be the perfect career option for you.
The opportunities for sports engineers are basically in sports equipment development companies where design, development and research take place. Generally, people from Sports Science, Mechanical Engineering, or Computer Engineering backgrounds are recruited. A lot of innovative work is happening and the introduction of technology in every phase of the sports industry is going on, therefore, if you are passionate enough to work in such a work environment, you can definitely opt for this career. I would like to suggest that you look up different job advertisements and their job descriptions on the internet regularly; it will give you more exposure to the field and a direction from where to start your journey.
Careers in sports engineering are real but they are less abundant than in other fields of engineering. Unfortunately, not all graduates will be able to find their dream job when they graduate and many will transfer to other areas. A good question to ask before you start might be; what would an employer from a different engineering sector think about my sports engineering degree?
In my experience, employers look for engineering skill first and knowledge of sport thereafter. This is somewhat obvious, but, alas, many individuals assume that just because they love sports, they have the necessary attributes to become a successful sports engineer. The reality is that it is a competitive business and just as companies will look to the best athletes to endorse their products, they will also look to the best engineers to conduct research and development.
It is my personal opinion that it is often better to develop a broad and solid grounding in a subject area before specialising in a specific field. One should really try to understand the fundamental science in question before the application. In this respect, I think that a post-graduate qualification (MSc) in sports engineering is a sensible option. Developing your core skills in a technical subject during your first degree allows you to keep your options open, and a post-graduate qualification will enhance and apply your existing knowledge base to the sporting environment.
Answered by: Dr Pranjal Kalita, Career Counsellor & Motivational Speaker.