Engineering applies mathematics and science to solve real-world problems. It is the link between scientific discoveries and the commercial applications that meet the needs of the consumer and society. There are several main branches of engineering, including aerospace, agricultural, architectural, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial/manufacturing, materials, mechanical, mining, nuclear, and ocean engineering. Each main branch has numerous subdivisions and engineering professional societies recognize numerous specialties. A person who practices engineering is called an engineer.
Many engineers develop new products such as chemicals, power plants and toys. Engineers use computers to produce and analyze designs; to simulate and test how a machine, structure, or system operates; to generate specifications for parts; to monitor the quality of products; and to control the efficiency of processes. Nanotechnology which integrates atoms and molecules to create high-performance materials and components is introducing entirely new principles to the engineering design process.
Engineers typically obtain a minimum of a four year Bachelor of Science degree in their specific engineering discipline. Engineering programs (post-secondary) are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET provides a search tool for institutions with accredited programs.
Once an engineer obtains a Bachelor of Science degree and begins to work in her field, some states in the US will require that certain types of engineers obtain a profesional engineering license. A PE, or Professional Engineer's license, is earned by completing a four year engineering degree, practicing for four years under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer, and passing two extensive exams administered by their state's licensing board. In addition, PEs must obtain continuing education credits in order to maintain their licenses. The National Society of Professional Engineers is the 'only US organization that serves the needs of licensed PEs across all disciplines. (NSPE, 2017)
A downloadable publication from the NSPE on the credentials required for the various engineering professions.
- Free Online Engineering Dictionary – Engineering dictionary compendium; dictionaries and glossaries with explanations and definitions of terms, phrases, acronyms and abbreviations related to engineering.
- WWW Virtual Library: Engineering - The Virtual Library (vl) is the "oldest catalog of the web", started in 1991 at CERN. (About VLib, 2017)
- Is Engineering Right For Me? (6:29) – Overview of engineering for high school students; describes the nature of engineering thinking and problem solving.
- Chemical Engineers (1:31) – Applications of chemical engineering and the role chemical engineers play in product development.
- A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer (1:12)
- Electrical Engineers job description (1:31)
- A Day in the Life – Mechanical Engineer (1:00)
Some of the major professional engineering societies:
- American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES)
- American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE)
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE)
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
- Society of Women Engineers (SWE)