Engineers employ mathematical and scientific principles to develop effective solutions to real-world, technical problems. Engineers need to be creative, curious, analytical, and detail-oriented. Communication skills are important because engineers often work with people in a wide range of fields. They should be able to work as part of a team. A bachelor’s degree in engineering is needed for most entry-level engineering jobs. Getting into engineering school requires a strong report card in math and science, as well as courses in English, social studies, and computers. Some schools prepare an engineer to get a job upon graduation while others prepare an engineer for graduate school. In a typical college, the first two years are for studying math, science, engineering basics, the arts, and social sciences. In the last two years, the majority of courses are in engineering, mostly in a single branch. Engineering specialties include the following:
Aerospace Engineers – Would you like to be able to say, “Why yes, as a matter of fact, I AM a rocket scientist!” That’s what an aerospace engineer is. Many astronauts are also aerospace engineers. These engineers are responsible for designing, developing and testing aircraft, spacecraft, rockets and missile systems as well as supervising the manufacturing of these products. Aeronautical Engineers are those aerospace engineers who deal specifically with airplanes and helicopters, while
Astronautic Engineers are engineers who deal specifically with rockets and spacecraft. Technologies developed by aerospace engineers are used in aviation, defense, and space exploration. Aerospace engineers may specialize in structural designing, guiding, navigating and controlling, instrumentation and communication, or production methodology. Aerospace engineers might also specialize in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanic systems, propulsion systems, acoustics, or guidance and control systems. Technology such as computer-aided design (CAD) software, robotics, lasers and electronic optics are often used by them.
Agricultural Engineers – These engineers apply the knowledge of engineering and biological science to agriculture. They are responsible for designing agricultural tools, equipment, machinery, and processing plants. They may also be involved with environmental concerns such as soil and water conservation.
Biomedical Engineers – These engineers develop devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems. Many do research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, to develop and evaluate systems and products for use in the fields of biology and health, such as artificial organs, prostheses (artificial devices that replace missing body parts), instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems. Biomedical engineers design devices used in various medical procedures, such as the computers used to analyze blood or the laser systems used in corrective eye surgery. They develop artificial organs, imaging systems such as magnetic resonance, ultrasound, and x-ray, and devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions. Most engineers in this specialty require a sound background in one of the basic engineering specialties, such as mechanical or electronics engineering, in addition to specialized biomedical training.
Chemical Engineers – These engineers apply both the knowledge of chemistry and the principles of engineering to the chemical industry and thus form the bridge or the link between science and manufacturing. They are involved in a wide variety of activities like equipment design, process developing for chemical manufacture on a large scale, planning and testing ways of producing and the treatment of byproducts as well as supervision of manufacturing activities.
Electrical and Electronics Engineers – They are responsible for designing, developing, testing as well supervising the production of electrical and electronic equipment and machinery. Broadcast and telecommunication systems, global positioning systems, electric motors, controls of machinery, lights and wiring in building complexes, vehicles, aircraft, radar and navigation systems, power generators and transmission devices used by electric utilities are all examples of equipment built by these engineers.
Environmental Engineers – These engineers combine the knowledge of biology and chemistry to devise solutions to environmental problems. Concerns such as air and water pollution, recycling wastes, waste disposal and other public health issues fall under their field.
Industrial, Health, and Safety Engineers – These engineers devise the best possible method of using the basic factors of production – namely people, materials, machines, information, and energy. Industrial engineers use computers for simulations and to control various activities and devices, such as assembly lines and robots.
Materials Engineers – They deal with extracting, developing, processing and testing of various materials and minerals which are used in order to produce a huge variety of consumer goods like computer chips, television sets, golf clubs and snow skis. New materials are created out of metals, ceramics, plastics, semiconductors, and combinations of materials called composites by these engineers, which are needed for mechanical, chemical and electrical industries. New materials are also chosen by these engineers for new applications and products.
Mechanical Engineers – They are engaged in researching, developing, designing, manufacturing, and testing mechanical devices like tools, engines, machines, etc. They work on developing both power producing as well as power using machines. Examples of power-producing machines are electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. Examples of power-using machines are refrigerators and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material handling systems, elevators and escalators, industrial production equipment, and robots used in the production process. Mechanical engineers are also involved in designing tools and equipment that other engineers require for their work. These days, the field of nanotechnology (which involves the creation of high-performance materials and components by integrating atoms and molecules) is has introduced completely new principles to the design process. Mechanical engineers are assisted by computers and by performing accurate and efficient computations and by completing the modeling and simulation of new designs as well as facilitating changes to existing designs. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) are used for design data processing and for converting mere designs into goods and products.
Mining and Geological Engineers – They are involved in designing open pits and underground mines, often using computers; supervising the building and construction of mine shafts and tunnels in underground processes; and devising techniques for the transportation of minerals to their processing plant sites.
Nuclear Engineers – These engineers run existing nuclear plants, industries and research. Also, nuclear engineers continue R&D activities for developing future nuclear power sources. Nuclear technology, especially in defense related areas, will also attract nuclear engineers.
Petroleum Engineers – These engineers design tools and operation procedures for the recovery of oil and gas. Computers are used extensively by petroleum engineers in order to model simulations and designs of drills and other equipment.
Plastics Engineers – Many things are made of plastic, from Tupperware and telephones, to dashboards and keyboards, baby dolls and baby bottles, and of course toys. Making all of these products possible are the plastic professionals who test materials, design molds and products, run and repair the assembly line. Plastics Engineers are the scientists behind all of these activities, so they need to be good with machines and strong in math and science.
Robotics Engineers – The field of robotics engineering is a sub field of mechanical engineering. Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics. This is a rapidly developing field, with advances in computing constantly opening up new possibilities for robotics applications. Manufacturing, the first industry to invest heavily in robotics, remains the primary employer in the area, but recent years have seen rapid expansion of research and engineering in robots for use in a wide range of industries such as agriculture, mining, nuclear power-plant maintenance, and a variety of other fields. From production line robots to experimental robotics for the medical, military, and automotive industries, the future of robotics engineering will certainly offer a range of opportunities for professionals entering the field.