Engineering

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Engineering is, more or less, the application of math and science to the manufacturing, design, and optimization of machines, structures, and materials. This STEM field is very broad and engineers work on everything from bridges to renewable energy. Engineers are not scientists, just as a practicing physician isn't a physiologist. Some, however, conduct research in fields like materials science and mechatronics.

Noteworthy people who are/were engineers[edit]

Disciplines[edit]

There are five major disciplines in this field.

  • Mechanical engineering concerns itself with the design, research, and manufacturing of mechanical systems (i.e., machines). This includes automobiles, airplanes, wind turbines, and 3D printing. Their collegiate studies tend to concentrate heavily on Newtonian mechanics, materials science, and design software (e.g., SolidWorks and AutoCAD).
  • Civil engineering deals with the design of infrastructure like bridges, roads, and buildings. CE may be viewed as a specialized branch of mechanical engineering with their courses on materials focusing heavily on construction materials like concrete and steel. They also focus on the environmental impact of of the aforementioned structures and Environmental engineering is a major sub-discipline of CE.
  • Industrial and Systems engineering seeks to optimize the efficiency of organizations and systems while minimizing the money, capital, and time they use. Logistics and safety concerns are major responsibilities of industrial engineers and, unlike any other type of engineers, they are more heavily concerned with the business side of engineering.
  • Chemical engineering applies the principles of chemistry to refine chemical processes like fermentation and the extraction of oil. Like ME, they focus heavily on the study of materials and energy, but do so from a chemistry background.
  • Electrical engineering focuses on the design and manufacturing of electrical and electronic systems like circuits and electronics and their education focuses more on applying concepts like Maxwell's Equations and Ohm's Law. Unlike the other aforementioned engineers, many electrical engineers have a much stronger background in coding computer languages. Thus it is not surprising that both Computer engineering and computer science originally stemmed out of, and are closely related to, EE.


In college, the last two are known to ravage GPA's, although some people can still do well in them. Many more specialized disciplines exist, such as biomedical engineering and petroleum engineering.

Regarding the first two in the above list, a common joke goes, "Mechanical engineers design weapons, and civil engineers design targets."

Conservatism[edit]

Most engineers are reasonable people and some conduct scientific research. This includes scientists working in engineering (look at computational fluid dynamics or combustion research and you'll see scientists and mathematicians with engineering titles) and engineering professors who conduct research at their colleges (engineers participate in materials science, mechatronics, and biofuels research). Unfortunately, however, engineering as a whole seems to attract an alarming number of creationists. The field is also, overall, more conservative than the natural sciences as a whole. Unlike most fields of the traditional sciences, engineers overwhelmingly enter industry, which is associated with conservative politics.

See also[edit]