Articles/Miscellaneous/Other/What is an Engineer?

For many years, engineers have transformed life and technology. But what is an engineer and what do they do? This article will seek to illustrate exactly what an engineer is and how they make an impact on the world.

Engineers are scientists, mathematicians, inventors, and project planners combined. An engineer takes information from various fields and applies that information to solve problems. An engineer creates! An engineer is a force to be reckoned with!

Essentially everything that you use in a given day was designed by engineers. From your computer monitor to your automobile, from your satellite radio to traffic lights, from your cell phone to the plane you fly in and the web browser you are using right now to read this article. All of these things are designed by engineers! Engineers create almost everything that society uses!

Engineers invent solutions and products in every field, including disciplines like aerospace, software, biomedical, chemical, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. All engineers are given a similar basic education, but they also choose one of these specific disciplines to be trained in. Many engineers work in multiple disciplines, for example electrical engineers writing software and electrical engineers designing electromechanical motors.

An engineer is trained such that they can be given a goal and accomplish that goal. An aerospace engineer that works for Boeing or Airbus might be told to "design a plane that can fly X miles at Y speed and use Z amount of fuel". This example is a bit extreme since most work is divided among many engineers, but that engineer would be able to take the problem and design a solution that meets the requirements. A similar example might be a software engineer being told to design an embedded application for a cell phone that allows a person to see where they are on a map using GPS. Another example might be a mechanical engineer being told to design a car that weighs X amount, has a top speed of Y, and gets Z mileage.

When considering a problem and potential solutions, an engineer has to try to find the best solution that meets the requirements and is financially feasible. Some solutions would work or are too expensive, another solution might work, but would take too long to develop. Typically a project has very specific time and money limitations, requiring an engineer to make difficult decisions. And sometimes, a project is simply impossible given the requirements and existing technology.

Engineers frequently work on teams to design a product or solution. Teams often consist of an engineering leader and a number of senior engineers and entry level engineers. In many cases, engineers from multiple disciplines work together on a project, for example an automobile requires mechanical engineers to design the engine and computer/software/electrical engineers to design the control systems and electronics. Some engineers also work alone on smaller projects.

Now that you know what an engineer is, perhaps you might like to know how to become an engineer. Most engineering companies require that their engineers obtain a four year degree in a related discipline. Sometimes if you have enough experience in the area and demonstrate sufficient knowledge, this requirement will be waived. If you are planning to become an engineer it is a good idea to pursue an engineering degree, which will give you the background in mathematics, physics, and project management that you need, as well as specific knowledge and experience in your chosen discipline. Engineering school is typically not easy, but a challenging education that takes work. Most engineering programs require that you complete small engineering projects for classes in labs as well as a senior project. Although challenging, engineering classes will prepare you for the challenges of the real world.

When you graduate with an engineering degree, you are in a powerful position. If you decide that you don't like engineering after all, an engineering degree is also gateway to a number of other rewarding careers. Engineers can easily get into just about any graduate program, with engineers going on to become doctors, patent lawyers, scientists, and business leaders. If you can survive the challenges of engineering school, you can probably survive the challenges of any field.

I hope that you have found this article informative. I am a computer engineer and I think engineering is a rewarding career that allows you to contribute to the advancement of technology. It is also financially rewarding, since graduates with engineering degrees are among the highest earners with bachelor degrees. If you are interested in engineering, feel free to contact me via email or the forum to ask questions. You can also contact engineering professors at just about any university to find out more information.