What It Means to Be an Engineer

What Do Engineers Do

The application of science and math to solve problems in engineering. Engineers figure out how things work and find practical applications for research results. Innovations that advance the human experience are frequently attributed to scientists and inventors, but it is engineers that are instrumental in making such innovations available to the world.

The physicist Freeman Dyson wrote in his book, “Disturbing the Universe” (Sloan Foundation, 1981), “A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.”

The history of engineering is part and parcel of human civilization’s history. As monuments to our engineering heritage, the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, the Parthenon, and the Eiffel Tower stand today. In addition to constructing immense buildings, such as the International Space Station, today’s engineers are also building maps of the human genome and, better still, small computer chips.

Engineering, an interdisciplinary program designed to inspire students to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math, is one of the cornerstones of STEM education.

The Life of an Engineer

A broad variety of products and systems are planned, evaluated, produced, tested, updated, assembled, inspected, and maintained by engineers. Materials and processes are also recommended and listed, development and construction supervised, failure analysis performed, consulting services given, and teaching engineering courses at colleges and universities.

The engineering sector is divided into a large number of areas of specialty:

Mechanical engineering includes the design, manufacture, inspection, and maintenance of machinery, equipment, and parts, as well as control systems and their status and performance monitoring tools. This includes automobiles, equipment for building and farming, manufacturing facilities, and a wide range of tools and devices.

Design, research, production, development, control, monitoring, and inspection of electrical and electronic equipment, machinery, and systems are involved in electrical engineering. From microscopic circuits to national power generation and transmission networks, these systems differ in size.

In civil engineering, major infrastructure projects, such as highways, railroads, bridges, tunnels, dams, and airports, are planned, constructed, maintained, and inspected.

Aerospace engineering includes the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and spacecraft, as well as components and components such as airframes, power plants, propulsion and control systems, electrical and electronic systems, and systems for communication and navigation.

Nuclear engineering includes the design, manufacturing, installation, operation, and testing of nuclear radiation processing, control and detection equipment, systems, and processes. Particle accelerators and nuclear reactors for electric power plants and aircraft, radioisotope development, and testing are included in these systems. Nuclear engineering also entails tracking and shielding humans from radiation’s potentially harmful effects.

The design, construction, and inspection of load-bearing structures, such as large commercial buildings, bridges, and industrial infrastructure, includes structural engineering.

In the practice of medicine, biomedical engineering is the practice of developing structures, facilities, and instruments for use. It also includes working closely with medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, technicians, therapists, and scientists, to assess, recognize and satisfy their programs, equipment, and device specifications.

The discipline of designing tools, structures, and processes for the refining of raw materials and the mixing, compounding, and processing of chemicals for the manufacture of useful products is chemical engineering.

The discipline of designing computer hardware components, computer systems, networks, and computer software is computer engineering.

The practice of designing and optimizing structures, machinery, systems, and processes for production, material processing, and any number of other working environments is industrial engineering.

The practice of preventing, minimizing, and removing sources of emissions affecting air, water, and the land is environmental engineering. It also requires the monitoring and assessment of levels of emissions, the determination of pollution sources, the cleaning up and restoration of contaminated areas, and compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.

Among the various specialties, there is sometimes significant overlap. For this purpose, besides their specialization, engineers need to have a general understanding of many areas of engineering. For instance, a civil engineer needs to understand structural engineering concepts, an aerospace engineer needs to apply mechanical engineering principles, and a working knowledge of electrical engineering is important for nuclear engineers.

In particular, in-depth knowledge of mathematics, physics, and computer applications such as simulations and computer-aided design is needed by engineers. This is why, before students choose to specialize in a specific field, most college programs offer basic engineering courses in a wide range of subjects.

Engineering Careers

Many employers need engineers as Licensed Engineers to receive state certification. Additionally, with their areas of specialization, many engineers belong to the American Society of Technical Engineers and other engineering societies.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has data on numerous specialized engineering areas, including criteria for education, job descriptions, working conditions, and job perspectives. At MyMajors.com, you can find another source of information on job descriptions, educational qualifications, and necessary skills and expertise for various engineering fields.

According to the BLS, engineers work in many different environments, including testing labs, warehouses, building sites, nuclear power plants, offshore oil rigs, and even on the International Space Station. Also, many engineers work in companies relevant to their areas of specialization; for example, an engineer in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) may own a heating and air conditioning company, and a building company may be owned by a structural engineer.

The majority of engineering positions require at least an engineering bachelor’s degree. State qualification as a Skilled Engineer is also required by many employers and to work as a consultant, which includes passing a rigorous and thorough examination. A master’s degree or a doctorate is usually required for senior engineering positions and professorships.

According to the BLS, the employment of engineers is expected to rise from 4 to 27 percent between now and 2022, depending on the area of specialization. A newly graduated engineer with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn $50,817 to $78,487 per year, according to Salary.com; a mid-level engineer with a master’s degree and five to 10 years of experience can earn $68,628 to $114,426, and a senior engineer with a master’s degree or doctorate can earn $91,520 to $156,895 with more than 15 years of experience. Many experienced engineers are promoted to leadership roles or start their advisory firms where they can earn even more. Also, some engineers go on to become patent lawyers at law school, where they will receive upwards of $250,000 a year.

Along with our knowledge and understanding of science, mathematics, and the laws of physics and their applications, engineering has evolved and expanded over the years. Today, to design, construct, enhance, operate and manage complex machines, structures, systems, and processes, engineers apply both well-established scientific concepts and cutting-edge technologies.

It was engineering that took us out of the caves; it was engineering that brought us to the moon, and it will be engineering that will take us there if we ever make it to the stars. If our science continues to advance, engineers will have new possibilities for scientific discoveries to find practical applications.

Famous Quote: “Space” Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.”

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