From helping us understand the complexities of the Earth’s seismic forces to designing and creating innovative manufacturing methods on a nano-scale, engineers in every field continue to push the limits of what can be achieved with modern technology. Although the engineering industry as a whole took a hit during the recent economic downturn, experts agree that the job outlook for engineering – mechanical, computer, and electrical engineering in particular – is very good.
It is also undeniable that if we want our nation to not only endure but to truly thrive economically, socially, and academically, we will need a strong workforce of engineers applying their creative problem solving to some of our toughest issues. But engineering is a very broad, multidisciplinary field which can make it difficult for aspiring engineering students to know precisely what area they would like to focus on.
A Look at the Types of Engineering Degrees
The possibilities for engineering degrees are many and they include:
The work of electrical engineers is concerned with designing, producing, and manipulating electrical systems. This means that electrical engineers may work on electrical wiring in a house, office building, airplane, automotive, or in any number machines.
Civil engineers focus much of their effort on creating and maintaining essential infrastructure elements such as roadways, tunnels, and sewage systems. For this reason, students who express an inclination towards city planning are well suited for the field of civil engineering.
Chemical engineers work in a wide variety of different industries ranging from pharmaceutical companies to manufacturers of agricultural products.
Mechanical engineers are the masterminds behind the development of machines. They are absolutely essential to the aerospace, automotive, heating and air conditioning, and robotics industries.
These are just a few examples of some of the most popular engineering degrees but it is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are many other engineering fields that students can choose to pursue including mining, nuclear, computer, and biomedical engineering.
The Changing Face of Manufacturing
Perhaps one of the most exciting things about engineering is that the technology these engineers develop and use in their jobs is always changing and evolving. Engineers, in essence, are visionaries that have the skills to breathe life into what they imagine.
This seems to be especially true of mechanical engineering as it applies to the manufacturing process. New manufacturing technologies, particularly robotics, are changing the whole face of manufacturing.
While robots have a long history of being used in manufacturing, they were previously considered too large, unpredictable, and dangerous to work alongside their human counterparts. Instead, these metal workers were secluded to lonely, dark corners often within a metal cage, which served as a physical barrier between them and the nearby flesh and blood workers. But all of that is changing thanks to the genius of engineering, which has created manufacturing robots that are increasingly compatible with humans. In fact, many of these new robots can work right beside human workers without posing a safety threat.
An excellent example of this is a recent product of Rethink Robotics, a manufacturing robot affectionately referred to as Baxter. Baxter’s unique abilities were reported on by technologyreview.com last year. Their positive assessment was, “Baxter’s talents could, for the first time, bring the benefits of robotics and automation to areas of work where it never made sense before”.
Baxter and similar new robotics technologies demonstrate just how the world of engineering is ever-changing, ever-exciting, and always needed.
Written by Harvinder Singh an expert in quality machines for various industrial use.