Fri. Apr 16th, 2021
What is Engineering? A Journey Through the Field We All Love

When Apollo 11 set sail on its journey to the moon, it perpetually modified what many individuals believed to be doable. What many individuals do not know is simply how basically the Apollo missions modified the world. Not in a philosophical sense, however a literal one. Within the growth and analysis portion of this mission, many issues we nonetheless use at this time came to fruition. From vacuum-sealed meals, to the dustbuster, these packages result in so many technological advances—true feats of attention-grabbing engineering. Merely put, the Apollo program led many to grasp even higher how science and engineering contact each side of our lives. 

Engineering: The Definition

Engineering is unquestionably a phrase most individuals have heard of earlier than, however have you ever really ever questioned what it means to be an engineer? Most individuals image brainy people working behind the scenes on planes and trains, however there’s a extra to this self-discipline than that. Within the easiest phrases, engineering is the act of utilizing the scientific technique to unravel real-world issues, construct sensible machines and instruments, and make the world a greater place. 

Certainly, we owe just about all of our infrastructures to the work of engineers all through the centuries. From the traditional Greek mathematical genius Archimedes, to artists-engineers like Leonardo Da Vinci and visionary Nikola Tesla (I suppose we should additionally point out Elon Musk), engineers assist form the world as we all know it in a wide range of methods. 

Here is a quote that just about encapsulates the spirit of engineering, from the creator of Dilbert, Scott Adams,Regular individuals consider that if it ain’t broke, do not repair it. Engineers consider that if it ain’t broke, it does not have sufficient options but.” Adams is aware of that engineers have a look at the world with curiosity, and love to unravel seemingly unsolvable issues. 

How Many Forms of Engineering Are There?

There are various varied varieties and subtypes of engineering, however listed here are probably the most primary varieties summarized.


Supply: industryview/iStock

Engineers on this area are undoubtedly the type of people that like taking issues aside, studying how they work, placing them again collectively, and troubleshooting any issues that will come up. As such, they take pleasure in designing and constructing machines that operate for particular functions.

At present, the largest and arguably probably the most advanced machine ever constructed is known as the Large Hadron Collider. Situated in Geneva, it’s the largest and strongest particle accelerator on the planet. It is chargeable for the invention of the lengthy elusive Higgs boson particle.

In accordance with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a mechanical engineer in 2019 was round $88,000 a yr. 

Civil Engineering: 

For the reason that starting of historical past, people have engaged in civil engineering (it is believed to be the oldest sort of engineering). Merely put, civil engineering is the act of growing and sustaining buildings, roads, bridges, and dams. your fancy rest room? Yeah-those are fairly new within the grand scheme of issues. Properly, they would not exist with out civil engineers who designed not solely sewage programs, however water filtration programs. With out these people, the world would look nearer to the world of Westeros than the current (go the chamber pot, please). 


Different noteworthy feats of civil engineering embody the pyramids at Giza, the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, the Channel Tunnel between England and France, the Burj Khalifa—the highest building in the world, and the town you’re residing in. One other very attention-grabbing but controversial feat of civil engineering is the Three Gorges Dam in China, which, when full, can really gradual the speed of Earth’s rotation (though solely by 0.06 microseconds).

In accordance with the BLS, in 2019, the median wage for a civil engineer was round $87,000 a yr.

Structural Engineering: 

Structural engineering and civil engineering kind of go hand-in-hand. Structural engineers have a look at issues civil engineers create, and see whether or not their designs and ideas are sensible, and could be constructed safely. In addition they oversee the development itself to verify issues like bridges, energy crops, skyscrapers, giant buildings, dams, and even houses are structurally sound.

The BLS doesn’t separate out the salaries of structural engineers, however they will anticipate to be paid across the similar as civil engineers, with a median wage of $87,000 a yr.

Chemical Engineering: 

In case you are fascinated about each engineering and chemistry, that is the proper area for you! It is at the moment probably the most in-demand of all of the engineering fields — largely because of advances in rechargeable batteries. It is a race to the highest for large engineering firms trying to flip these developments into purposeful transportation prototypes. 

Chemical engineers apply the rules of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to unravel issues that contain the manufacturing or use of chemical substances, gasoline, medicine, meals, and lots of different merchandise. They design processes and gear for large-scale manufacturing, plan and take a look at manufacturing strategies and byproducts remedy, and direct facility operations.

In accordance with the BLS, in 2019 the median wage for chemical engineers was virtually $109,000. The very best salaries are in petroleum merchandise manufacturing and analysis and growth. Not dangerous, eh?

Petroleum Engineering:

Petroleum Engineering
Supply: industryview/iStock

Petroleum engineering, as you may be capable to guess, includes the design and growth of strategies for extracting oil and gasoline from deposits under the Earth’s floor. Petroleum engineers additionally discover new methods to extract oil and gasoline from older wells. You may think this trade goes by the wayside, given the push towards sustainable and clear types of vitality, however petroleum merchandise are more likely to be with us for a fairly some time nonetheless. 

Consider it or not, petroleum engineering is persistently ranked because the top-paying engineering position. In accordance with the BLS, in 2019, the median wage for a petroleum engineer was round $137,700 per yr., with engineers in administration positions incomes a median of $172,000. 

Electrical Engineering: 

Electrical Engineering
Electrical Engineer at work Supply: Depositphotos

Electrical energy powers our telephones, TVs, houses, workplaces, and it just about makes the trendy world go ‘spherical. With out it, the world would revert again to the darkish ages. Electrical engineers design, develop, take a look at, and supervise the manufacture {of electrical} gear, resembling electrical motors, radar and navigation programs, programs, or energy era gear. Electrical engineers additionally design {the electrical} programs of vehicles and plane.

They’re additionally chargeable for designing and growing digital gear, together with broadcast and communications programs, resembling transportable music gamers and World Positioning System (GPS) units. Many additionally work in areas intently associated to laptop {hardware}.

In accordance with the BLS, in 2019, the median wage for {an electrical} engineer was round $89,500 per yr. The bottom 10 % earned lower than $63,020, and the best 10 % earned greater than $155,880. The very best-paying jobs had been within the area of analysis and growth.

Industrial Engineering: 

Industrial engineering is all about optimization: Can we design one thing that’s extra cost-efficient, takes much less time to construct with much less assets, manpower, and vitality, however nonetheless as much as the requirements of high quality one thing that value extra could be? 

In addition they remedy technical issues with telephones, planes, automobiles, computer systems, and different issues we take care of in our day by day life.

In accordance with the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for an industrial engineer as of 2019 was round $88,000 per yr. The bottom 10 % earned lower than $57,290, and the best 10 % earned greater than $134,070. The very best-paying jobs had been within the area {of professional}, scientific, and technical companies.

Aerospace Engineering: 

The final launch of a Saturn IB (AS-210)
The ultimate launch of a Saturn IB (AS-210) from pad 39B at KSC on July 24th, 1975 Supply: NASA

Aerospace engineering, in any other case often known as aeronautical engineering or astronautical engineering—might be probably the most thrilling branches of engineering, being that it’s concerned in designing and constructing units that would enable people to depart the planet and go in the hunt for one other dwelling.

Whether or not we migrate to the close by planet of Mars, determine a solution to settle on the Moon, or go away this photo voltaic system totally in the hunt for one other planet, aerospace engineers will likely be chargeable for serving to develop the spaceships of the long run. 

Aerospace engineers are additionally chargeable for serving to design plane, missiles, spacecraft, and nationwide protection programs. Ever heard the time period, “It isn’t rocket science?” Properly, on this case, it type of is… The 2 disciplines are very related. Moreover, aeronautical engineers — individuals who work with airplanes and different propulsion programs — are an necessary a part of the sector. 

In accordance with the BLS, the median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $116,500 in Could 2019. The bottom 10 % earned lower than $72,450, and the best 10 % earned greater than $166,620, with analysis and growth being the highest-paid area.

Biomedical Engineering: 

Biomedical engineering is an thrilling area that combines engineering with biology — combining engineering rules with medical and organic sciences to design and create gear, units, laptop programs, and software program utilized in healthcare. For instance, we will thank biomedical engineering for thus many breakthroughs: synthetic organs, kidney dialysis, robotic devices for non-intrusive surgical procedures, synthetic limb replacements, pacemakers, dentures, and a lot extra. 

There are various totally different job alternatives out there, however in keeping with the BLS biomedical engineers made a median salary of $91,000 in 2019. The bottom 10 % earned lower than $55,280, and the best 10 % earned greater than $148,210.

Environmental Engineering: 

This subset of engineering focuses on methods through which we will defend the Earth and Earth’s biodiversity from air pollution, and general enhance the well being and prolong the longevity of each the atmosphere and all residing issues on the planet. 

There’s some overlap with civil engineering right here, as environmental engineers additionally assist construct sewage programs, concentrate on water filtration programs, irrigation, and different types of bettering the issues we take without any consideration — like clear water and indoor plumbing. Environmental engineers use the rules of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop options to environmental issues. They work to enhance recycling, waste disposal, public well being, and water and air air pollution management. In addition they deal with international points, resembling unsafe consuming water, local weather change, and environmental sustainability.

In 2019, in keeping with the BLS, environmental engineers made a median wage of roughly $89,000. The bottom 10 % earned lower than $54,330, and the best 10 % earned greater than $142,070. The very best paid jobs tended to be for the federal authorities.

Nuclear Engineering:

If you are interested in particle physics and engineering, welcome to the sector of nuclear engineeringNuclear engineers analysis and develop the processes, devices, and programs used to derive advantages from nuclear vitality and radiation. Many of those engineers discover industrial and medical makes use of for radioactive supplies—for instance, in gear utilized in medical prognosis and remedy. Many others specialize within the growth of nuclear energy sources for ships or spacecraft.

Large Hadron Collider at CERN
The Giant Hadron Collider at CERN Supply: Maximilien Brice, CERN

So far as pay goes, it will possibly differ wildly primarily based on what particular job you may have within the trade. The median pay in 2019, in keeping with the BLS, was round $113,000. The bottom 10 % earned lower than $71,860, and the best 10 % earned greater than $179,430. The very best salaries had been in engineering companies.

Scientists vs Engineers:

You may not remember, however there’s at all times been a little bit of a pleasant rivalry between scientists and engineers. You may assume this odd, since engineering and science are so intrinsically interlinked, however alas, it is a factor. 

So, what is the distinction between the 2? I feel Einstein summarizes it fairly eloquently: 

“Scientists examine that which already is; engineers create that which has by no means been.”

Scientists do analysis, experimentation, differentiate between theories and hypotheses, analyze knowledge, and a bunch of different issues. All of that are necessary features of creating a scientific breakthrough. 

Engineers, then again, give you sensible purposes for these scientific breakthroughs. They construct prototypes and machines, carry out experiments, tinker with present expertise to enhance it, and different issues extra particular to totally different engineering fields.

So, there’s fairly a little bit of overlap clearly. Nevertheless, what it principally boils all the way down to is, engineering is the act of making issues, whereas science is the act of observing and explaining nature. Each fields are necessary for nearly every thing about trendy life.

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