What are the different types of engineering? | Education

Engineering continues to thrive university majoras the number of engineering graduates has increased. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 140,000 new engineering jobs are expected to be created between 2016 and 2026.

With so many different species engineering workit can be challenging for prospective students and early-career undergraduates to decide which career path to pursue.

Engineers serve in a variety of roles, from creating, improving, and maintaining massive structures like highways and bridges to designing smaller items like laptops, smartphones, and athletic sneakers. Aeronautical Engineers design and test technologies used in spacecraft, aircraft and satellites biomedical engineers to help create medicine and technology to improve human health.

While faculty members in engineering programs say that aerospace and biomedical engineering majors are increasingly popular, those majors are not as common in the U.S. as some other majors.

Four of the most common engineering majors offered at most American engineering schools are:

  • Civil engineering
  • Electrotechnics
  • Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering

Civil engineering

Civil engineers work on civil infrastructure projects that significantly affect the quality of life in various communities. These projects include highways, bridges, skyscrapers and sewage treatment plants.

Civil engineers often interact with architects, contractors, and government officials to complete projects. People drawn to civil engineering typically want to make a huge impact on society, says Zachary Grasley, head of civil and environmental engineering at the company Texas A&M University.

“We’re creating things that put the public at potential risk,” Grasley says. “If a bridge collapses, people die. If a building collapses, people die.”

Unlike some other engineering fields, most civil engineers are expected to hold professional licenses and continue their education. Having good character and not cutting corners are important qualities for civil engineers.

In addition, civil engineering is a great option for those interested in becoming businessmen, experts say. Several Texas A&M graduates have started consulting or construction firms, Grasley says.

“It’s hard to develop a car company that runs like a mum when there are thousands of engineering firms across the country,” he says.

The median annual salary for civil engineers in the US was $95,890 in 2023, according to the BLS.

Grasley said that while the starting salaries for civil engineering positions are not as high as for computer science majors, civil engineering offers plenty of opportunities for growth and increased compensation starting at the mid-career level.

Electrotechnics

Electrical engineers design and test electrical equipment and systems used in machines, ships, automobile engines, cell phones, and cameras.

Students interested in electrical engineering should consider the type of problems they are interested in solving, says Maria Yang, associate dean of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Technical school.

“Would you be attracted to developing control strategies that keep the power grid running safely, signal processing algorithms that process audio, coding strategies to send data wirelessly faster and more reliably?” Yang wrote in a text message.

Students who want to work with microelectronics — such as the Fitbit-type sensors that track movement and the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor — should consider majoring in electrical engineering.

The median annual salary for electrical engineers in the US was $109,010 in 2023, according to the BLS.

Engineering

Mechanical engineers design and build the mechanical aspects of various devices, from seat belts in cars to cooling devices in video game consoles.

“Many of the electrical components in a cell phone are designed by electrical engineers,” says Samuel Graham, dean A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. “But the tools to make that phone are often designed or built by mechanical engineers.”

In addition to designing and building machinery, mechanical engineers are also responsible for testing. If equipment fails, the mechanical engineer is responsible for identifying the source of the problem and helping to resolve it.

Mechanical engineers can work in production and manufacturing at a wide variety of companies, including gasoline companies like Exxon and Shell, aerospace companies like Boeing, and fashion brands like Nike that incorporate technology into products.

The median annual salary for mechanical engineers in the US was $99,510 in 2023, according to the BLS.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers are key players in the production of items such as medicines, fuels, detergents and paper. In addition to working with pharmaceutical and gasoline companies, chemical engineers work to create consumer products from potato chips to lipstick.

“Chemical engineers generally had a very good high school chemistry experience,” says David Tomasko, associate dean for academic programs and student services at Ohio State University. College of Engineering. “They generally appreciate chemical reactions and the world of molecules.”

The median annual salary for chemical engineers in the US in 2023 was $112,100, according to BLS data.

How to choose an engineer

When choosing an engineering major, Tomasko advises students to think about the field they want to major in and then choose the major that will get them there. For example, NASA hires not only aeronautical engineers but also chemical and mechanical engineers.

If one major is full, Tomasko says, choose another.

“There is no single company that hires only one type of engineer,” he says. “All the different engineering disciplines really work together in teams.”

Consider a graduate engineering degree

Earnings a graduate degree in engineering makes it easier for students to delve into their specific area of ​​interest, Graham says. Unlike undergraduate engineering students, graduate students take several classes each semester and then spend a lot of time doing research.

“I think graduate school is a wonderful way to hone your skills or really deepen your understanding of how to impact society from engineering,” says Graham.

Taking advantage of research opportunities and spending time with graduate students in labs will help undergraduates decide whether graduate school is right for them, Graham adds.