The profession of engineering is grouped into specialized disciplines that have developed in response to societal needs. No matter what their field, whether one of the "big four" fields of civil, computer, electrical, or mechanical engineering, or a specialty discipline like ocean engineering, all engineers possess a mix of creativity and smarts. They excel in mathematics or science and spatial relations, and they use these talents to synthesize information, solve problems, and innovate. In this collection of images adapted from The American Society for Engineering Education, learn more about the many fields that make up the engineering profession.
This media asset was adapted from Engineering, Go For It! by The American Society for Engineering Education.
Engineers have been called the shapers of societal progress because their work has a widespread impact on people. Most engineers specialize in a particular area but have a base of knowledge and training that can be applied in many fields. While each engineering field has its own specific purposes and goals, there is frequent overlap between them, which can translate into important collaborations. Following are some examples:
Agricultural engineering + Bioengineering
Agricultural engineering is concerned with the production and processing of agricultural products, which include crops, livestock, and poultry. Agricultural engineers may specialize in land and water management (e.g., designing and maintaining irrigation systems), construction of crop storage and livestock facilities, or the development of tractors and other farming equipment.
Bioengineering is a relatively new and fast-growing discipline concerned with developing applications in medicine and the life sciences. Bioengineers study living systems and apply that knowledge to solve problems, such as cleaning up contaminated soil and water.
Some agricultural engineers and bioengineers work closely to develop sometimes-controversial biotechnological alternatives to conventional farming applications. For example, by changing the genetic structures of different plants, new types of pest- and disease-resistant crops can be developed.
Aerospace engineering + Civil engineering [+ Computer engineering]
Aerospace engineering encompasses aerodynamics, structural design, materials selection, and guidance and propulsion systems for space and sub-space flight vehicles and systems. Aerospace engineers' work influences everything from spacecraft and satellites to commercial airliners and helicopters. Aerospace technology also extends to the behavior of other types of objects that move within gases or liquids, including golf balls and hydrofoil ships.
Civil engineers deal with the planning, construction, and maintenance of public works systems and structures. They design and manage the infrastructure of cities and towns, including railroads, sewer systems, and bridges. They include specialists such as geotechnical engineers, who analyze soil and rocks for their ability to support building foundations, tunnels, and dams.
When planning the construction of high-rise buildings, a civil engineering firm may call on the expertise of an aerospace engineer to learn more about the effects of high-wind conditions on a designed structure. Since safety is at the core of all engineering practices, the civil engineers will modify their building plans as a result of this input.
Both aerospace and civil engineers might use applications developed in yet another field, computer engineering, to design and test their ideas. One way computer engineers use their talents is to develop simulation and 3-D modeling software. In place of wind tunnels, aerospace engineers can use such software to test a new airplane wing design, and civil engineers can use it test their elegant bridge designs for structural stability.
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