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 Cambridge English for Engineering   

Examination questions



  • Describe the main function and different applications of GPS devices and two or three other   products you use regularly.
  • Explain the concept of a space elevator. How would it work? What technical challenges would it face? How would a system of an offshore base station work?


  • Explain how the OTIS flat belt elevator system works. What are its technical advantages  over conventional systems?
  • What techniques are used for simplifying and illustrating technical terminology? How can you explain technical concepts to non-specialists?


  • Describe some materials (steel, glass, copper, aluminium, timber, rubber, plastic) with regard to recycling. What are the benefits and problems of recycling them?
  • What kinds of materials are used in brake pads and brake discs in cars? What are regenerative braking systems? What characteristics are required of materials used for the brakes in racing cars?


  • Describe the properties of Kevlar. What are its automotive applications? Why are the properties of Kevlar especially important for each application?
  • What quality issues differentiate higher-quality watches from lower-quality ones? What materials are suitable for making higher-quality watches? What materials are good for marketing?


  • Describe shapes and features of electrical plugs and sockets used in different countries. What are the profiles of the pins and standard configurations?
  • Give examples of manufacturing techniques that are often used in metalworking. Explain different cutting techniques. What key factors determine the most appropriate cutting operation?


  • Give examples of jointing and fixing techniques. What factors does the most suitable method of joining components depend on?
  • How did Larry Walters assemble his garden chair airship? What components did it consist of and how were they positioned?


  • What are the different types of drawing needed for a complex engineering project such as the construction of a large cruise ship? What is meant by scale on a drawing?
  • Discuss precision and tolerance in the context of laying down concrete floors. How is a superflat floor different from an ordinary concrete floor?


  • In engineering, what are the phases in the development of designs? What different documents are involved?
  • What problems can arise when different drawings that make up a design are not properly coordinated? How are they resolved by design and construction teams?


  • Describe technical challenges of endurance car races like the Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race. What technical problems can occur with the racing cars?
  • What are some typical faults with a diesel engine? What are their possible causes? How can a telephone helpline staff assess and interpret the faults?


  • Describe the technical problem that occurred during the Airbus A330 flight from Toronto to Lisbon. What caused it? What were the consequences?
  • What is the difference between repairs and maintenance? Compare car maintenance with aircraft maintenance. Think back to some repairs or maintenance you did. What were the main steps in carrying them out?



  • What is needs/requirements analysis? What factors are important in it?
  • What are the most effective ways of coming up with ideas and finding solutions to technical problems? What do you think of brainstorming? Give an example of the challenging project of placing a mammoth statue on the plinth.


  • How do budgets and schedules affect technical feasibility of designs, development and manufacturing solutions?
  • What factors drive companies to improve products? What factors influence how products are improved? Think of a product which could be redesigned. How significantly could it be improved? What aspects could be redesigned?


  • What engineering and industrial activities are especially dangerous? What are the common industrial hazards? What precautions should be taken? What are the different types of PPE?
  • What are the basic precautions for electrical maintenance?


  • What is meant by safety regulations and design standards? Describe some safety regulations that relate to the offshore oil industry.
  • Where are written notices and instructions used in industry? What different kinds of information do they communicate? What are the characteristics of effective notices and instructions? Give some examples.


  • What is the difference between an automated and a manual system? What operations can be monitored or controlled automatically by the Building Management System in large buildings such as offices?
  • What things are often measured in engineering and technology? Name some units of measurement. What parameters are measured and/or controlled in common domestic appliances?


  • Describe electricity consumption trends in Britain. What factors increase or decrease the demand?
  • What is meant by approximate figures? Give examples of types of discussion that engineers and technical professionals might have that would involve using approximate numbers. What words and phrases can be used?


  • Discuss different types of tests and experiments. What tools are available for developing an aerodynamic design of an experimental energy-efficient vehicle?
  • Try to predict how a container air-dropped with parachutes might behave while falling, and on hitting the ground. What are advantages and disadvantages of air-drops?


  • Describe the early rocket experiments of Manfred Haug, a German aeronautical engineer. What were his expectations and what were the actual results? Did you have any experiences of building things when you were younger which didn’t turn out as you’d expected?
  • Discuss some urban legends, for example the chicken cannon or the moon landing. Try to explain them describing causes and effects.


  • Discuss performance and suitability issues relating to wind turbines. What factors influence their performance? What is the most appropriate location?
  • What is a solar tower and how does it use the forces of expansion and pressure? What other physical forces do you know of?


  • Describe the relative performance of high-speed trains. Compare them with air travel. Choose a product or type of technology you know well and compare its performance and quality with an earlier model.
  • What capabilities and limitations were tested in a series of experiments carried out by the US Air Force in the late 1940s and early ‘50s?