There are many types of engineering disciplines and the intent of this article is to serve as an introduction to them. Engineering in general is the design, repair, and testing of products using mathematics, science, physics, and technology. It is a technical field, meaning that it is high-paced and most engineers must be aware of new developments in order to do their best.
Architectural engineering deals entirely with the design of buildings for commercial, industrial, and residential purposes. It is a fairly difficult field since there are so many factors that must be taken into account when designing a building and nobody wants to be liable when a building collapses. Most university programs will teach the student to do everything from electrical wiring and plumbing to determining what materials are suitable for a given structure.
Biomedical engineering involves the design of devices that are intended to be used in medicine. Students in this field are taught a broad range of subjects including biology, chemistry, computer science, electronics, mechanics, and physiology. Biomedical engineers design everything from mechanical prosthetic limbs and synthetic organs to advanced wheelchairs.
Civil engineering is a type of engineering that focuses on the design of structures for various purposes, primarily transportation. Civil engineers are the people called upon to design bridges, roadways, tunnels, and various other projects. Most civil engineering university programs focus on a combination of mechanical and architectural engineering.
Computer engineering is a field that combines elements of software and electrical engineering. The primary focus of computer engineering is the design and implementation of embedded systems, that is control systems and computers embedded in everyday products. Despite the embedded systems focus, many computer engineers work in purely software engineering jobs.
Electrical engineering deals with application of electricity and electronics. Electrical engineers design everything from amplifiers to television sets, often with the aid of circuit simulation programs like PSpice. Electrical engineers require a strong background in mathematics since the solving of circuits can be very complex.
Industrial engineers are trained to design manufacturing processes for a multitude of products. An industrial engineer should be able to look at a product and be able to determine what sort of manufacturing process would be most efficient and least costly to implement for the manufacture of that product. They are given a broad background in electricity, computers, mechanics, and economics.
Mechanical engineering is probably the oldest field of engineering since it deals with the design of mechanical systems, which are the earliest form of technology. They can design everything from internal combustion engines to suspension systems. Mechanical engineers are given a strong background in mechanical physics, including pneumatics, fluid mechanics, and hydraulics.
Software engineers are taught to design software applications for everything from databases to operating systems. Software engineers must learn many software languages in order to be versatile, since many companies will design different software products using more than one language. Software engineers are trained with software architecture in mind, although they often do the actual coding as well.