Here is a brief description of major types of engineering programs found at many universities. Check with the school that you wish to attend to see if they have a specific program that fits your interest.
Aerospace engineers design, analyze, model, simulate, and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, missiles, and rockets. Aerospace technology also extends to many other applications of objects moving within gases or liquids. Examples are golf balls, high-speed trains, hydrofoil ships, or tall buildings in the wind. As an aerospace engineer, you might work on the Orion space mission, which plans on putting astronauts on mars by 2020. Or, you might be involved in developing a new generation of space telescopes, the source of some of our most significant cosmological discoveries. But outer space is just one of many realms to explore as an aerospace engineer. You might develop commercial airliners, military jets, or helicopters for our airways. And getting even more down-to-earth, you could design the latest ground and sea transportation, including high-speed trains, racing cars, or deep-sea vessels that explore life at the bottom of the ocean.
Agricultural engineers apply knowledge of engineering technology and science to agriculture and the efficient use of biological resources. In addition to creating advances in farming and agriculture, agricultural engineers apply engineering design and analysis to protecting natural resources, develop power systems to support agriculture, and provide environmental controls.
Most people take the sounds we hear every day for granted. But it may surprise you to learn that the creation of audio is a unique endeavor that blends both art and science. Did you ever stop to think how they created the sounds in a video game, a movie, tv show, or at a concert? there are literally thousands of different jobs available in this field that are as rewarding as they are challenging. There are many career choices in the field of audio engineering. Perhaps you are a musician, are interested in electronics and sound, or like the idea of working with people who produce and perform in the many fields of entertainment. You will find challenging and fulfilling work in audio engineering.
Bioengineers study living systems and apply that knowledge to solve various problems. they study the safety of food supplies, keep desirable organisms alive in fermentation processes, and design biologically based sensors. Bioengineering is widely used to destroy waste and clean up contaminated soil and water. These engineers contribute greatly to human health and the environment.
Biomedical engineers study biology and medicine to develop technologies related to health care. they develop medical diagnostic machines, medical instruments, artificial organs, joint replacement parts, and prosthetic devices. Rapid advances in these areas will undoubtedly continue throughout your lifetime.
Ceramic and materials engineers solve problems by relying on their creative and technical skills, making useful products in many forms from common as well as exotic materials. Every day we use a multitude of these products. Each time we talk on the phone, use a computer, or heat food in a microwave oven, we are using products made possible by the inventions and designs of engineers working with ceramics and other materials.
Everything around us—including us—is made of chemicals. Chemical changes can be used to produce all kinds of useful products. Chemical engineers discover and manufacture better plastics, paints, fuels, fibers, medicines, fertilizers, semiconductors, paper, and all other kinds of chemicals. Chemical engineers also play an important role in protecting the environment, inventing cleaner technologies, calculating environmental impacts, and studying the fate of chemicals in the environment.
What would it feel like to have the expertise to build a school that could withstand an earthquake, a road system that puts an end to chronic traffic jams, or a sports stadium that offers everyone a great view? As a civil engineer, your job would be to oversee the construction of the buildings and infrastructure that make up our world: highways, skyscrapers, railways, bridges, and water reservoirs, as well as some of the most spectacular and high-profile of all engineering feats—think of the world’s tallest building, the towering Burj Khalifa in Dubai, or the Chunnel, the thirty-one-mile-long tunnel beneath the English Channel. Civil engineers are fond of saying that it’s architects who put designs on paper, but it’s engineers who actually get things built.
Computer engineering is the design, construction, implementation, and maintenance of computers and computer-controlled equipment for the benefit of humankind. Most universities offer computer engineering as either a degree program of its own or as a sub-discipline of electrical engineering. With the widespread use and integration of computers into our everyday lives, it’s hard to separate what an electrical engineer needs to know and what a computer engineer needs to know. Because of this, several universities offer a dual degree in both electrical and computer engineering.
As an electrical engineer, you could develop components for some of the most fun things in our lives (mP3 players, digital cameras, or roller coasters), as well as the most essential (medical tests or communications systems). This largest field of engineering encompasses the macro (huge power grids that light up cities, for example), as well as the micro (including a device smaller than a millimeter that tells a car’s airbags when to inflate).As an electrical engineer, you might work on robotics, computer networks, wire-less communications, or medical imaging—areas that are at the very forefront of technological innovation.
Environmental engineering is the study of ways to protect the environment. Most of us care deeply about stopping pollution and protecting our natural resources. Imagine yourself having more than just a passion for saving our environment, but also possessing the actual know-how to do something about these alarming problems! As an environmental engineer, you’ll make a real difference in the survival of our planet by finding ways of cleaning up our oceans, rivers, and drinking water, developing air pollution equipment, designing more effective recycling systems, or discovering safe ways to dispose of toxic waste.
Geological and geophysical engineers draw on the science of geology to study the earth, using engineering principles to seek and develop deposits of natural resources and design foundations for large buildings, bridges, and other structures. Related engineering fields include civil, mineral, mining, and petroleum.
Industrial engineers determine the most effective ways to use people, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or to provide a service. Sometimes they are called “efficiency experts.” Manufacturing means making things. Manufacturing engineers direct and coordinate the processes for making things—from the beginning to the end. As businesses try to make products better and at less cost, it turns to manufacturing engineers to find out how. Manufacturing engineers work with all aspects of manufacturing from production control to materials handling to automation. the assembly line is the domain of the manufacturing engineer. Machine vision and robotics are some of the more advanced technologies in the manufacturing engineers’ toolkit.
These engineering fields are closely related, and deal with the design of ocean vehicles, marine propulsion systems, and marine structures such as harbors, docks, and offshore drilling platforms. these engineers are exploring and developing the natural resources and transportation systems of the ocean. For example, 200 miles off the coast of Washington state, a research ship hovers on the sea’s surface, manipulated by navigational satellites hundreds of miles above. A thin cable of fiberoptic strands and electrical conductors connects the ship to a remotely piloted robotic vehicle on the seafloor 7,000 feet below as it shoots live, high-definition video of volcanic smoker vents and strange life-forms. The video is linked in real time to a communications satellite 22,500 miles above and, from there, into classrooms coast to coast.
As a mechanical engineer, you might develop a bike lock or an aircraft carrier, a child’s toy or a hybrid car engine, a wheelchair or a sailboat—in other words, just about anything you can think of that involves a mechanical process, whether it’s a cool, cutting-edge product or a life-saving medical device. Mechanical engineers are often referred to as the general practitioners of the engineering profession, since they work in nearly every area of technology, from aerospace and automotive, to computers and biotechnology.
Mining engineers study all phases of extracting mineral deposits from the earth. They design mines and related equipment and supervise their construction and operation. They also work to minimize the environmental effects of mining. These engineers supply energy and rare materials to meet the world’s needs.
Nuclear engineers harness the power of the atom to benefit humankind. They search for efficient ways to capture and put to beneficial use those tiny natural bursts of energy resulting from sub-atomic particles that break apart molecules. As a nuclear engineer, you may be challenged by problems in consumer and industrial power, space exploration, water supply, food supply, environment and pollution, health, and transportation. Participation in these broad areas may carry you into many exciting and challenging careers. These may include interaction of radiation with matter, radiation measurements, radioisotope production and use, reactor engineering, and fusion reactors and materials.
Petroleum engineers study the earth to find oil and gas reservoirs. They design oil wells, storage tanks, and transportation systems. They supervise the construction and operation of oil and gas fields. Petroleum engineers are researching new technologies to allow more oil and gas to be extracted from each well. They help supply the world’s need for energy and chemical raw materials.