Many individuals outside the realm of engineering including school children struggle to grasp the concept of an engineer’s job. An online search will yield some type of result as engineers are primarily involved in solving problems by using math, physics, and creative thinking. Technically, the above statement is true, but what about the other subjects taught in school?
Over the course of time, people will notice a problem. The problem can range from simple (I need to figure out how to move a few heavy rocks) to very complex (I need to reroute the million cars entering the city to reduce the traffic congestion). Engineers are folks that will study the problem and devise solutions on how to correct the problem. From the example problems, this can involve designing a wagon or designing an elaborate system of roadways and bridges. The realm of the engineer is limited to the design of a solution to the problem. The actual building of the solution is reserved for tradesmen and contractors.
Fully understanding the nature of the problem presented and comparing potential solutions expands the roles of the engineer. Additional subject matter involved may include journalism, product research, cost estimation (economics), surveying, legal contracts & documentation, technical writing, etc. Today’s field of engineering involves a substantial amount of documentation. Engineers should thoroughly document the problem, their calculations, and their solutions & recommendations.
Typically, engineers will focus on becoming an expert in one area and will focus on designing a specific component for a collection of systems (i.e. electrical systems, mechanical systems, project management, etc.). The end result is that it is very rare for an engineer to claim they designed an entire car, building, etc. The end product is the result of multiple engineers coming together to design components of an end product.
In conclusion, when researching what is the core curriculum to becoming a good engineer, remember that language and communication skills will have a substantial impact on an engineer’s career. You will be expected to work well with others, prepare technical and economic reports, and document your work.
(2018-07-09 update added the 4th paragraph)