What is engineering?
The application of science and mathematics to harness useful products from natural resources is known as engineering. The United States Engineers Council for Professional Development defines engineering as the creative implementation of scientific principles to create something new.
What are the different types of engineering?
Engineering has a lot of different branches and it roots from the different scientific subjects. The most common branches of engineering are –
- Civil engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Chemical engineering
- Petroleum engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Aerospace engineering
With time and newer complexities being addressed, we now have additional fields of engineering, like, genetic, management and geotechnical engineering. Each of these branches, have thousands of sub-branches making engineering quite the diverse subject that find creative ways to solve the real-time problems of the world.
What is the history of engineering?
In 2550 BC, the world witnessed its first engineer – Imhotep, who was the one responsible for building the Step Pyramid in Egypt. It was the first time that people were introduced to civil engineers. Following Imhotep, a lot of Persian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civil engineers popularized civil engineering by using empirical methods along with mathematics and physics. It was in the 18th century, that civil engineering was recognized as a separate entity.
Electrical and electronic engineering roots from the experiments of developing electric motors and dynamo from an electric cell by Michael Faraday. Scientists like James Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz popularized electronics engineering. In the mid-20th century, the discovery of transistor had a profound impact on the market. And by the late 20th century, the maximum number of engineers in the world were from the branch of electrical and electronics.
Industrialization gave its way to the rise of chemical engineering in the fields of metallurgy, textile and food. The dependence on chemical increased to such a level that by 1880, there was a whole bunch of industries dedicated for just production of chemicals.
What are the types of engineering degrees to pursue?
- Computer Engineering Degrees
The present scenario summarizes that one of the most demanding and rising branches of engineering is that of information technology which includes both computer science and electrical engineers. Once graduating in this disciple, one is assured a job in fields like networking, telecommunications, software application development, web development and cloud computing. While a graduate will also get good opportunities, but the highest degree of masters in the field fetches jobs in top firms which rely on computer engineers more than anything.
- Electrical Engineering Degree
Based on the study of energy, an electrical engineer is expected to develop new technologies for harnessing the different forms of energy for human use. While online and undergraduate programs are scarce, there are quite a few on-campus programs both at the Bachelor’s and Master’s level to pursue this branch of engineering.
- Civil Engineering Degree
Dealing with the development of buildings, dams, roads and general construction of different infrastructure, civil engineers have a major role to play in rebuilding projects and contribute to both the private and public sector. Being the head, it can be divided into dub-types like that of environmental, structural and marine engineering.
Structural engineering focusses on the design of different structures and is often available as an integrated course within civil engineering at different institutions.
- Mechanical Engineering Degree
Dealing with the design of mechanical systems, a mechanical engineer plays a major role in different streams like manufacturing, nanotechnology, and nuclear power production. All works of a mechanical engineer is based on the principles of thermodynamics and kinematics. There are many branches of mechanical engineering and some even overlap with electrical and electronics engineering.
- Chemical Engineering Degree
Chemical engineers use the principles of chemistry to produce different categories of chemicals ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals and food materials. Chemical engineering is vast and has different sub-categories, all of which together create many employment opportunities.
- Environmental Engineering Degree
Implementing the concepts of environmental science and engineering, this is the latest approach environmentalists use to solve the problems and improve the environmental conditions of the earth. Considered a type of civil engineering, environmental engineering has a lot of scope and opportunities for the future.
- Geotechnical Engineering Degree
A broad branch, geotechnical engineering can be sub-divided into the following kinds which can only be pursued in Master’s and Doctorate levels –
- Petroleum Engineering –
Deals with the study and implementation of ways to extract oil and gas from the deeper layers of the earth. They also devise newer extraction protocols and methods and help locating oil and gas reservoirs beneath the earth’s surface. This branch of engineering provides one of the highest paid job opportunities.
- Geological Engineering –
Depending on engineering and research skills, this branch deals with mining and construction. Geological engineers judge the earth’s conditions and whether it is prone to natural disasters or not before commencing with construction. Geological engineers are in extreme high demand owing to the scarcity of natural resources.
- Nuclear Engineering –
The increasing demand for nuclear power is met by the contributions of nuclear engineers. Available in master’s and doctorate courses, this branch specializes in the design, maintenance and application of engineers in the nuclear power plant.
- Marine Engineering –
Responsible for the development of ocean technologies, a marine engineer addresses power generation and development of new forms of energy using the resources of the ocean.
- Engineering Physics –
A conglomeration of the applications of physics and engineering, this specialized branch paves the way to research in mechanical and nuclear engineering.
- Photonics Engineering –
Dealing with ways to generate light by processing signals and its amplification, this branch of engineering is crucial to fields of telecommunications, medicine and computation among many others. The demand for photonics engineers are expected to rise significantly in the coming few years.
- Nanotechnology Engineering –
The study of atoms and production of tiny devices is the latest trend highlighting the worlds of engineers. Nanotechnology has the answers to a lot of world problems and can be applied to a wide array of problems.
- Biomedical and Biomechanical Engineering Degree
Focusing and implementing the principles of biology and engineering together, these two branches focus on solving issues pertaining to the biological science and medical world. These branches are responsible for the designing and prototyping of new instruments for aiding in diagnosis. They also address environmental challenges and both these fields have lucrative job opportunities.
What path should you follow for a high paying lucrative job?
Engineers are in high demand and some fields of engineering provide the highest-paid job opportunities in the world. Even with little to no experience, engineers on an average earn $100,000 annually which is higher than salaries of most other professionals.
- Petroleum Engineers –
Petroleum engineers are responsible for digging the earth’s surface to find new reservoirs of petroleum oil and natural gas. They are also responsible for developing efficient and effective methods of extraction, and manage on site processes. With a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering, it is quite easy to get a job. In 2014, the median salary of a beginner in the field of petroleum engineering was estimated to be $103,000.
It is expected that the average annual salary of a petroleum engineer with an experience of 15 years or more can be as high as $160,000. With the recent boom in the petroleum and natural gas industry in the United States, the job opportunities are also flourishing. This job doesn’t require high degrees, rather an experience of substantial years can help a person land in a high position making this field an even more lucrative job opportunity.
- Nuclear Engineers –
The nuclear power plants in the United States are old and require repairing to sustain themselves. This creates a major scope of job opportunities for nuclear engineers making them in high demand. Nuclear engineers are to assess these plants and find faults in their functioning and improve their conditions and output. They also research to find newer benefits of this type of energy and where it can be used. Engineers graduating in the field of nuclear engineering have an average starting salary of $67,000 and with experience their salaries can go as high as $117,000 annually.
- Chemical Engineers –
Chemical engineers are responsible for the implementation of the principles and theories of different branches of science, namely, physics, chemistry and biology in pharmaceutical, manufacturing, food processing, health care, environment and biotechnology industries. Freshers with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering can start their career with an average annual salary of $68,000. With exposure and experience, their salary can increase up to an average of $115,000 annually in 15 years.
The highest paid chemical engineers contribute to the inventions pertaining to the oil and gas industry earning over $157,000 annually. Engineers constituting the top 10% of this field, have an average annual income of $156,000.
- Aerospace Engineers –
Aeronautical engineers are different from aerospace engineers in the fact that the former directly deal with airplanes. However, aerospace engineers are responsible for the implementation of the theories and principles of physics for designing, constructing and testing the viability of airplanes, missiles and spacecraft’s.
They work for both private public sector in that they also deal with military aircrafts. They are held responsible for the development of new technologies, and specialize in areas of space exploration, movement of vehicle and propulsions. Aerospace engineers start their career with an average annual income of $62,000. With 15 or more years of experience, they can expect a salary of $109,000 annually.
With so many streams to study and specialize in, engineering is itself a lucrative opportunity for students to start their career. While a bachelor’s degree may take up to four years, but it is enough to get you a decent job which with experience will yield you better opportunities.
Some fields of engineering highlights on having a master’s degree only because they are a branch of some parent subject of engineering and can only be pursued in masters. These courses lay the foundation for research and development of new scientists in the field of engineering.
But, before pursuing engineering, one must have a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, chemistry and technology. These are the basic subjects forming the framework of every engineering course. Even a person pursuing biomedical engineering must have a profound background in the above-mentioned subjects to succeed.
It is true, that the demand for certain types of engineers are increasing but it must also be kept in mind that the number of people pursuing engineering is also increasing as this is the course which has a job assurance after completion of the bachelor’s degree.
So, to get a good job, one must work hard and opt for engineering fields which are in high demand at present.
Given a situation, if an individual gets the opportunity to study nuclear engineering and electronics engineering, what should he opt for?
Given the current situation in the United States, it is always advisable for the individual to pursue nuclear engineering compared to electronics engineering. The nuclear power supplies in the United States are old and aging and they need to be repaired to be able to sustain them for the future. This creates a massive pool of job opportunities for nuclear engineers.
Hence, while choosing the perfect stream to study, one must not only consider the difficulty of the subject or its popularity, but also assess the practical applicability of the subject in the future which is the ultimate source of job opportunities. So, keeping all these points in mind and researching about your own strengths, will help you opt for the stream of engineering that will help you land up with the perfect job.
Author Bio –
Michelle Johnson is a renowned figure who is known for her contribution to the field of finance. She graduated from Harvard Business School and pursued her careers in the top international firms. After having an experience of more than six years and a MBA degree, she has now set up a consultancy firm to guide students who want to follow her path to attain success in their lives