Engineering is a profession in which you apply various fields of knowledge such as math and the sciences in order to create, design and construct practical solutions to real world problems. In the past, engineering was often thought to be limited to tedious tasks such as constructing buildings or maintaining facilities; however over time, the shape and face of engineering has evolved with the scope now exponentially increased. For example, technologies such as artificial intelligence, renewable energy, gene editing and even the blockchain are all ultimately products of engineering. While such a wide array of possible professions is exciting, it makes it all the harder to choose a single field. And so in an attempt to guide some of you on your journeys’ to discover what discipline is best for you, in today’s post I’ll be giving an overview on the various different types of engineering!
To start one of the more artistic fields of engineering is architectural engineering. As the name implies these engineers plan/build structures like skyscrapers and bridges while aiming to make them safe, comfortable and visually unique depending on the assigned task. Although all engineering fields utilize math, architectural engineering especially emphasizes trigonometry as it's necessary to determine the measurements and placements of various materials. Recently, architectural engineers have been shifting their focus towards sustainability by limiting buildings’ energy usage, using recycled materials and carefully selecting the locations of structures to ensure the surrounding environment won’t be harmed.
Another common engineering discipline that all of us benefit from is electrical engineering. Electrical engineers design and create electrical circuits, machines, devices and systems. They often use basic components such as conductors, coils and batteries as a base. As a result electrical engineers require in-depth knowledge about electricity and other components properties. Overtime electrical engineers have also increasingly been utilizing computer modeling software and computer coded “breadboards,” for this reason there’s an inherent overlap between electrical and computer/software engineering. Furthermore, electrical engineering has become more diverse of a discipline than ever as many industries begin to shift to electricity as a renewable source of energy.
My personal favorite due to its heavy emphasis on efficiency; industrial engineering is one of the more unique engineering disciplines. At its core industrial engineering is basically the design, analysis, creation and implementation of various processes and operations to efficiently complete a function. In order to accomplish this task industrial engineers often have to account for several different variables and their effects on each other and as a result they require extensive knowledge of nearly all types of math and statistics. Additionally, as a discipline industrial engineering is relatively new and the possibilities for where the field can take you are currently limitless.
With the moon landing being its crowning achievement, aerospace engineering is notoriously one of the most complex engineering disciplines. After all, it’s literally rocket science. That being said there’s much more to aerospace engineering than just rockets, in fact aerospace engineering is actually made up of 2 different fields: aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Aeronautical focuses on flight within Earth’s atmosphere, while astronautical is based on space travel and launch devices. Regardless of the differences however both require thorough capabilities in physics and math as a single mistake could be disastrous. Recent innovations in the field of aerospace engineering include reusable rockets, additive manufacturing and zero fuel aircrafts.
Computer and software engineering are perhaps some of the most universal types of engineering as a result of more and more fields of engineering progressively increasing their use of digital services. That said, whereas software engineers focus more on the technical development of software and therefore need a background in coding languages; computer engineers work on the electrical aspects of the computers hardware which in a sense makes them electrical engineers. Nevertheless both fields are progressing at an incredibly fast rate with new technologies such as artificial intelligence, Web 3.0, NFTs, cryptocurrency, and virtual reality springing up nearly every day!
The discipline that’s stereotypically most associated with engineering as a whole is likely civil engineering. Civil engineers design, construct and maintain infrastructure such as roads, railways, water systems, bridges, tunnels and airports. In this sense they’re very similar to architectural engineers, however while architectural engineers typically target specific aspects of a structure such as the walls, heating, or wiring; civil engineers work on the whole project. Overall, civil engineering is a burgeoning field with many new ideas such as self healing concrete, photovoltaic glaze(solar power absorbing material) and use of 3D modeling technology.
One of the most unique engineering disciplines that concerns the production of functional products from raw materials through the use of various chemical processes is chemical engineering. Chemical engineering uses are extremely versatile and as a result it contains several sub disciplines including biomedical, ceramic, crystal, plastic and petroleum engineering. A recent chemical engineering invention that the world as a whole has benefitted from is the coronavirus vaccine.
One of the oldest and most well established branches of engineering is mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering utilizes principles from several fields such as physics and mathematics to design, manufacture and maintain mechanical systems. The automotive, robotic, and energy conversion industries are just a few of the many industries that rely on mechanical engineering. As of late, mechanical engineering has been increasingly implementing artificial intelligence and other forms of smart automation as we undergo what’s been called Industry 4.0 or the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Last but not least is environmental engineering, a discipline centered around combatting the effects of unhealthy environments while also working to better their condition. This includes activities such as preventing various sources of pollution in addition to improving air, water and soil quality. As of late, environmental engineers have been aiming to utilize pollution and waste in the production of products such as bottles, cans, clothes, jewelry, soap and furniture.
And that’s all the types of engineering I’ll be covering in this post! Obviously there are many other sub disciplines of engineering than those I discussed today however I believe that these are the main ones. To conclude I’d like to leave you all with a quote from American civil engineer Nathan W. Dougherty who once wrote: “The ideal engineer is a composite … He is not a scientist, he is not a mathematician, he is not a sociologist or a writer; but he may use the knowledge and techniques of any or all of these disciplines in solving engineering problems.” Thank you all for reading, and good luck on your engineering journeys! I hope you check back in with me next month, bye!