Engineers are problem solvers. They use scientific understanding of the natural world, and implement this knowledge to invent and design products, tools and much more to provide practical solutions to our daily life problems.
Table of Contents
The First Broad Disciplines
Historically, engineering was divided into the four broad disciplines of chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, with several branches within each discipline covering an enormous range of fields.
Chemical engineering is all about changing raw materials into useful products such as petrochemicals, polymers, microelectronics, biomedical devices, paper, dyes, drugs, fertilizers and foods. Chemical engineers focus on processes and products – they develop and design processes to create products; either focusing on improving existing processes or creating new ones. They are most often employed by large-scale manufacturing plants to maximize productivity and product quality while minimizing costs.
Civil engineering is arguably the oldest engineering discipline. It is about maintaining and adapting the infrastructure that we depend on every day – our roads, railways and bridges; energy and water supply; waste networks and dams. Simply everything you see that’s been built around us.
Electrical engineering is one of the newer branches of engineering, and dates back to the late 19th century. It is the branch of engineering that deals specifically with electricity, electro-magnetism and electronics.
Electrical engineers work on a wide range of components, devices and systems, from tiny microchips to large supercomputers. It also covers control system, power and huge power station generators.
Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. They deal with anything that moves, involved typically with the generation, distribution, and use of energy; the processing of materials; the control and automation of manufacturing systems; the design and development of machines; and the solutions to environmental problems.
The Evolution of Engineering Disciplines
Our 21st century world is evolving exponentially, so are the engineering disciplines. The major fields have become many more than just four. The new fields include Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Computers Engineering, Geological and Mining Engineering, Industrial and Management Engineering, Military Engineering, Naval or Marine Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Sustainable and Renewable Energy Engineering and much more.
Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineering deals with designing and building machines that fly. It is one of the newest branches of engineering. Aerospace is a branch of engineering that has two sub-branches. One is aeronautical engineering, and another one is astronautical engineering.
Aerospace engineering students learn about professional design, building, testing and maintenance of civil aircrafts, missiles, space shuttles, rockets, space stations and spacecrafts for the exploration of outer space.
Aeronautical engineering comprises of the study of designing and building aircrafts such as airplanes and helicopters.
In electronic engineering, you’ll design, develop and test components, devices, systems or equipment that use electricity as a power source. These components include capacitors, diodes, resistors and transistors.
Electronic engineering offers the chance to produce new innovations and developments in telecommunications, robotics, computing hardware, power and electrical equipment.
Computer Engineering covers a range of intertwined professions. Two general branches would be hardware and software engineering. Network engineering might be considered third.
Depending on your skills, you can do one or more of the following:
- Software engineers deal with computer programming, smartphone applications, and software development in general.
- Hardware engineers design and maintain physical products.
- Network engineers design and maintain systems and networks.
More about Computer Engineering in Germany in this article.
Sustainable and Renewable Energy Engineering
Our planet needs green energy than ever before to avoid drastic climate change and the increase in earth’s temperature. Renewable Energy Engineering is a subcategory from Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Their role is to design, build and operate the green energy infrastructure including solar energy (PV farms for example), wind energy, biomass energy, tide energy, geothermal energy and hydro energy.
Geological and Mining Engineering
Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers, find, extract, and prepare coal, metals, and minerals for use by manufacturing industries and utilities.
The mining engineer is trained in historical geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and geophysics, and employs such tools as the seismograph and the magnetometer for the location of ore or petroleum deposits beneath the surface of the earth.
The surveying and drawing of geological maps and sections is an important part of the work of the engineering geologist, who is also responsible for determining whether the geological structure of a given location is suitable for the building of such large structures.
Industrial and Management Engineering
Industrial engineers design systems that enable people and society to improve productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, and quality. The industrial engineer has a dual role, both to extend the human capability to operate, manage and control the overall production system, and to ensure the safety and well-being of those working in the system.
Industrial engineers use their knowledge and skills to improve systematic processes through the use of statistical analysis, interpersonal communication, design, planning, quality control, operations management, computer simulation, and problem solving.
Naval or Marine Engineering
Marine engineering is a specialized branch of mechanical engineering devoted to the design and operation of systems, both mechanical and electrical, needed to propel a
ship. The naval architect designs and supervises the construction of ships. The marine engineer must choose a propulsion unit, such as a diesel engine or geared steam turbine.
Nuclear engineering is based on fundamental principles of physics and mathematics that describe nuclear interactions and the transport of neutrons and gamma rays. These phenomena in turn are dependent on heat transfer, fluid flow, chemical reactions, and behavior of materials when subjected to radiation.
Nuclear engineers work to harness the energy released from nuclear reactions and deal with the application of nuclear energy in a variety of settings, such as nuclear power plants.
Summary (If you are too busy)
Which branch to choose? It all depends on what interests you! Here’s a quick summary:
You need to be good in maths and physics in all the disciplines, not necessarily excellent as rumours say.
- You like the concept of heat, cars, robotic machines, then mechanical engineering is the best choice for you.
- You like planes, space and those rocket science stuff, go for Aerospace Engineering
- You like the idea of producing electricity, making small chips or massive generators. Electrical and Electronic Engineering are great fields and have much to offer than what we have discussed here.
- You like to play with raw and chemical materials to create new ones and provide new products to the market and consumers, Chemistry Engineering is the winner.
- You are fascinated by the buildings of NYC, Dubai, Shanghai and their road infrastructures. You belong in Civil and Architect Engineering.
- Computer Engineering doesn’t need an introduction, you know if you like it.
- You want to save the planet and produce clean energy, go for Sustainable and Renewable Engineering.
- You are interested in how to produce and supervise essential products for our 21st century life, Production engineering is sutaible for you.
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