What Do Engineering Majors Study?
Many prospective engineering majors confuse engineering with general science. It's related, but engineering is about applying scientific knowledge and concepts to real-world problems. In fact, many engineers involved in discovering solutions to urgent problems must often work faster than the traditional method of scientific discovery would permit.
Most engineering majors concentrate on a particular specialty, supplemented by courses in both science and mathematics. Depending on the program and the institution, an engineering major might study industrial practices to prepare for a hands-on career, or theoretical principles to lay the groundwork for a research or academic career.
A number of engineering programs have begun supplementing the traditional education of engineering majors by offering courses in business, law and ethics. With the vast potential for engineering majors to develop solutions that evolve into businesses, educators want their students to graduate with all the tools necessary to function as effective businesspeople as well as creative engineers. Online engineering degrees reflect this new paradigm as well; they offer working adults the opportunity to qualify for specialized positions without losing their place on the career ladder. For those professionals who have mastered the hands-on aspect of engineering training, online degrees can serve as flexible educational options.
What Jobs Are Hot in Engineering?
- Computer engineers think up ideas that can improve the quality of life as well as the speed of business. From building new software applications to improving existing ones, computer engineers are constantly designing and implementing technological solutions to our world's problems.
- Civil engineers seek innovative solutions to the problems of energy use, water treatment, and transportation. Civil engineers can impact society by bringing new ideas to life from within a company. They also shield us from potential mistakes, serving as gatekeepers and analysts in government and in private oversight bodies.
- Biochemical engineers study living systems to solve problems related to our food supply and our environment. Their research and innovation can help improve crop yields and feed more of the world's population.
- Biomedical engineers puzzle over ways that we can live longer, healthier lives. As the world's population grows in both number and age, engineering new biomedical tools and processes to ensure our wellness is a prospect of increasing importance.
Why Should You Consider a College Major in Engineering?
Even as undergraduates, engineering majors have the chance to participate in groundbreaking research and development. Both Yahoo! and Google began as university-supported research projects by Stanford engineering majors. Not all research projects end up quite so prestigious, of course, but humbler research projects can still offer vital experience, as well as an extra boost of credibility to your resume. Many engineering degree programs, including online programs, also offer career counseling services.
A study by the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that professional engineers tend to remain employed with the same company for significantly longer stretches of time than workers in other professions.
What Kinds of Candidates Make the Best Engineering Majors?
If you love to solve problems and you want to make things work better, an engineering degree may be the right fit for you. Because engineering careers rely on constant innovation, the best engineers thrive in a changing environment. Likewise, a strong candidate for an engineering degree should learn to communicate well and to work productively as part of a team. Despite the occasional competition between engineers, the most important innovations occur when engineers team up and collaborate fully.
If you already have some education in a different subject, it might come in handy. Because engineering majors analyze solutions to human problems, a broad background in understanding those problems can make a huge difference. A history degree, for example, can help an engineering major understand previous solutions to recurring problems. Exposure to the social sciences can help engineers understand the social ramifications of different solutions--and can help them see problems and solutions that others don't even recognize. Even the study of literature can add that extra creative spark in the mind of an engineer, who might one day dream up a critical solution in the same way an author conjures up a character or a scene.