Are you a problem solver? Do you like to see how things work? Then being an engineer may be the career for you! Engineers use science and math to find creative solutions to real-world problems. Having a strong aptitude in math and physics is a must for all engineers, and many college engineering programs value a student who demonstrates communication or artistic skills as well. Aligning your skills and attributes with the type of engineering that suits you best will ultimately make you happier and more successful.
Here’s a rundown of the most popular types of engineering majors:
Mechanical engineering deals with the design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers develop everything from car engines to medical devices, to children’s toys. If it involves a mechanical process, mechanical engineers are involved. Mechanical engineers are “tinkerers” who like to fiddle with engines and come up with new ways to make things work efficiently. They use their analytical skills and creativity to see a project through from design to reality.
Chemical engineers work to create new and useful products and play a role in protecting the environment by creating “cleaner” technology. They combine chemical and biological processes to discover better versions of everyday things like plastics, paint, fuels, fertilizers, paper, or fibers. If you enjoy studying chemistry and the natural sciences and are an analytical thinker, chemical engineering may be right up your alley.
When people think about engineers, they often imagine civil engineers. These people who oversee the construction of our infrastructure–bridges, tunnels, airports, and skyscrapers. They are concerned with big issues such as building schools that can withstand an earthquake or a sports stadium that allows for a safe and enjoyable viewing experience for all. Civil engineers enjoy designing and building large projects in conjunction with architects. They oversee the mechanics of large-scale projects and develop an understanding of the environmental impact of these projects.
Electrical engineers apply the physics and mathematics of electricity to projects both big and small. They work on everything from microchips for cellphones and medical equipment to radio antennas and power station generators. Electrical engineers design and create electrical systems for all types of projects and solve problems as their designs are implemented. This is considered the largest field in engineering and is at the leading edge of technological innovation and requires critical thinking skills and the ability to look at problems from varying perspectives to find a solution.
Aerospace engineers deal with the research, design, and development of all types of aircraft, including spaceships, satellites, and rockets. This type of engineering suits people who are fascinated with space technology and have an interest in the mechanics of flight. Creativity and analytical thinking skills are critical for this type of work.
Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary approach to engineering, looking at the human side of technology to develop medical equipment and systems that truly impact our society. By studying biology and medicine in conjunction with an engineering curriculum biomedical engineers develop life-saving and life-enhancing technology such as prosthetic devices, diagnostic machines, operating instruments, and artificial organs.
If you are interested in engineering but also love computers and want to learn about the design and development of computer hardware and software, then computer engineering is the major for you. This major combines electrical engineering and computer science and attracts students with a strong interest in mathematics and design technology. Often a background in computer science is helpful.