Like many areas of study, an engineering degree typically starts off broad with the industry basics. However, once you get those essential concepts under your belt, you can narrow your focus into the specific field that suits your interests.
All engineers are first and foremost problem solvers. No matter the focus area, the main goal of an engineer is to find cost-effective solutions to difficult problems and improve people’s lives. However, each specific type of engineer does require a unique set of skills. This guide outlines four common types of engineers, what they do, and the skills necessary for each role.
Chemical Engineers solve technical problems by using the principles of science, math, and chemistry. Their skills are utilized in a wide variety of industries, such as clothing, food and drink, and pharmaceuticals. They work toward improving food processing techniques, constructing synthetic fibres to make clothing more comfortable, and developing more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective techniques to process chemicals.
Mechanical Engineers are usually involved with the creation and distribution of energy and the design and construction of machines. Simply put: Mechanical Engineers solve problems to help improve our quality of life. Virtually every machine we use in day-to-day life, from the refrigerator to the aircraft, has been made possible by Mechanical Engineers. These professionals are also involved in research, manufacturing, marketing, and operations – which means they often work in teams to solve problems that affect everyone.
Civil Engineers are best known for building and maintaining infrastructure. From roads to sewage systems to the world’s largest opera houses, they are responsible for building these structures and ensuring they can keep up with population growth and climate changes. One of their biggest challenges are meeting infrastructure demands on a low budget.
By incorporating principles such as biology and soil science into their work, these types of engineers work to solve environmental problems. Their key areas of interest include recycling and waste disposal, air and water pollution, and public health. In many cases, Environmental Engineers also collaborate with other industry experts, such as scientists and lawyers, to address and solve environmental and sustainability problems.
Less Common Types Of Engineering:
Nuclear Engineering – these engineers generally work for consulting firms or government agencies, and are in high demand because of the growing uses of nuclear energy.
Biomedical Engineering – this branch of engineering focuses on working with chemistry and genetics to study the mechanisms of living organisms.
Agricultural Engineering – this rapidly-growing branch of engineering involves the application of engineering science and technology to agricultural production and processing.