A Student's Guide to the Basics of Engineering
Engineering is as old as humanity. Since before the beginning of recorded history, humans have worked to adapt the environment to better fit their requirements. The cave-dweller who made the first tool was humanity's first engineer! Early engineers were also the people who designed the first roadways, large farms, villages, sailing vessels, and cities. Slowly, the engineering skills and knowledge of humans expanded until they were capable of building large marvels, some of which stand today. For example, the aqueducts of Rome were built starting around the fourth century B.C.E. to move water around the city. A project of that scale would be the responsibility of engineers today. It wasn't until the 15th century that engineers were spoken of the way they are thought of today, as professionals who combine mathematics with design in order to build lasting, sound structures.
Today, engineering can be a rewarding career choice. Engineers work in a variety of settings. They can be found measuring the amount of pollution in rivers, working in labs, overseeing factory floors, and on construction sites. Many engineering specialties have specific educational requirements and skill sets.
Mechanical engineering focuses on machinery. It involves designing, producing, and maintaining machinery along with the various parts that go into the machinery and the systems that monitor it.
Electrical engineers oversee electrical systems and electrical devices, including everything from tiny circuits to national power grids.
Civil engineers design major infrastructure projects such as expressways, dams, airports, and bridges.
Aerospace engineers design, produce, and test aircraft and spacecraft. This includes creating the vehicles themselves and all of the parts they contain, along with the navigational and communication systems they depend upon to operate safely.
Nuclear engineering oversees every aspect of harnessing the power of nuclear radiation. The systems these engineers oversee include the nuclear reactors that power submarines and power plants. A big part of the jobs of nuclear engineers is protecting humans from any negative effects of using nuclear energy.
Structural engineering is concerned with designing, constructing, and maintaining load-bearing structures like bridges and high-rise commercial buildings.
Biomedical engineers design things that assist in the practice of medicine and help people with their health issues. This type of engineer works closely with health professionals to design systems, devices, and equipment to meet the needs of practitioners and patients.
Chemical engineers create the processes, tools, and systems that turn chemicals into usable products.
Computer engineers design computer systems, software, and networks for private and commercial use.
Industrial engineers make factories and other work environments as efficient as possible. They do this by optimizing the systems, processes, facilities, and equipment used in manufacturing.
Environmental engineering works to prevent pollution wherever possible. When pollution can't be prevented, they work to mitigate the impact of pollution as much as possible. This type of engineer also oversees the cleanup of polluted sites.
How to Assess Different Types of Engineering Degrees: There are many different types of engineering degrees, so it's important to look into all of the options before deciding to be an engineer.
Engineering: Britannica published this explanation of what engineering is and includes a video in the explanation.
What Is Engineering? The National Science Foundation produced this video explaining what engineering is and how it impacts people's day-to-day lives.
16 Types of Engineers and How They Are Shaping the Future: There are many different types of engineers, but what they share in common is that they are designing and building the future.
The Specialized Work of Six Types of Engineers: The differences between what engineers trained in various disciplines do are explained here.
Engineering and Physical Science: Physical scientists and engineers are in demand in many fields, including government intelligence work.
Mechanical Engineer's Handbook: Engineering includes theoretical and practical concepts. The practical side of mechanical engineering is explained in this handbook.
What Civil Engineers Do: The Bureau of Labor Statistics explains that civil engineers conceptualize, design, and oversee the completion of building projects, including large-scale infrastructure, in the public and private sectors.
Civil Engineering Explained: Airports and power substations are some of the complex projects civil engineers oversee.
Careers in Aerospace Technology: NASA explains the different career paths for students who focus on aerospace engineering.
The Ten Greatest Aerospace Engineers of All Time: These literal rocket scientists helped reshape the fields of air travel, space exploration, and war.
15 Game-Changing Women of NASA: Women can sometimes feel shut out of engineering fields, but these female pioneers who all worked at NASA show how women can make a career in the sciences.
What Is a Structural Engineer? The main responsibility of structural engineers is to analyze and plan for the appropriate strength and support of structures including bridges and buildings.
What Is Structural Engineering, and What Do Structural Engineers Do? Structural engineering is an offshoot of the larger field of civil engineering.
The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES): This society was founded in 1968 and provides support to 6,500 members who work in the fields of biomedical engineering and bioengineering.
Biomedical Engineering: What Is it, and What Are the Career Opportunities? Biomedical engineering is a fast-growing field that offers great pay and relatively low stress levels.
What Do Nuclear Engineers Do? Learn how to become a nuclear engineer and what you'll do once you achieve that goal here.
Chemical Engineering: Chemical engineers produce a variety of products by using chemical processes.
What Is Computer Engineering? There are two main branches of computer engineering: hardware engineering and software engineering.
What Is Industrial Engineering? Industrial engineering focuses on how to improve processes. It involves many different disciplines and other types of engineering.