1a. The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems. b. The profession of or the work performed by an engineer.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000.
The application of scientific or physical knowledge to the development of a product.
Malinowsky, H. R. Reference Sources in Science, Engineering, Medicine and Agriculture. Phoenix, Ariz. : Oryx Press, 1994. pp. 118.
What is engineering?
Engineering is the use of the principles of math and science, plus experience, common sense and judgement to develop practical solutions to everyday problems. Engineers strive to meet the challenges of society by applying the forces and materials of nature to provide quicker, better and less expensive solutions.
(University of Manitoba Faculty of Engineering)
Four traditional areas
Chemical engineering involves the processing and treating of liquids and gases. For example, some chemical engineers are studying ways to desalinate seawater—stripping it of salt to make the water safe to drink. Many chemical engineers work with petroleum and plastics, although both of these are the subject of independent disciplines. The term “environmental engineering” also applies to certain areas of chemical engineering, such as pollution control.
Civil engineers are involved with infrastructure and environmental projects. They plan, design, supervise construction, manage, and maintain facilities using computer-based analysis and design. Many of their projects are familiar to most people: bridges, dams, highways, water and wastewater treatment plants, airports, flood control systems, etc. Civil engineers increasingly use new technologies such as Geographical Information/Positioning Systems, advanced materials, remote sensing and monitoring in their projects.
Electrical engineers deal with everything related to electrical devices and systems, and the use of electricity. They work in many diverse areas, including power systems, computers, and communications. Electrical engineers work in the design and manufacture of electronics and electrical devices for a wide spectrum of applications. Many are also involved in consulting, the planning and operation of power systems and telecommunication networks, satellite communications, and biomedical engineering.
Mechanical engineers use the principles of mechanics and energy to design machines and processes. Many mechanical engineers work in energy and environmental specialities such as building systems, engine design, oil refining, mining, and air quality control, and pollution control processes. Others are involved in the automotive, manufacturing, materials science and biomechanics areas. Mechanical engineers can specialize in the aerospace area, and work in the design and development of technology for aviation and space exploration.
Selected additional fields
- Aerospace Engineering
- Agricultural Engineering
- Architectural Engineering
- Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
- Ceramic Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Fire Protection Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Manufacturing Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Metallurgy and Minerals Engineering
- Mineral and Mining Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Ocean Engineering
Engineering Engineers versus scientists
|Use and exploit nature||Discover and explore nature|
|Seek to develop and make things||Searching for theories and principles|
|Solve problem for practical operating results||Seek a result for its own ends|
|Invent things and solve problems||Create new unities of thoughts|
- 5 major Founder Societies in U.S.
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME)
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
- Many additional societies including
- American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE)
- American Society of Heating Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
- Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
- Engineering students seek information from books, lectures, internet before consulting their “colleagues” i.e. other students (Majid & Tan, 2002)
- Professional engineers rely primarily on face-to-face communication
- Most frequently mentioned communication technique (78%) informal discussion with project team members in cubicles, open spaces, over lunch in cafeteria (Hirsh, 2000)
- 66% of engineer’s time spent on communications
- 31% reading/listening
- 35% writing/presenting
- (Pinelli, T. E. Knowledge Diffusion in the U.S. Aerospace Industry, 1997)
- Engineers sometimes use libraries
- Relatively infrequently for information for recent projects
- Between 28 and 64 times/year
- Librarians used frequently (Hertzum & Pejtersen, 2000)
- Engineers need information to solve an immediate problem or make a decision (Pinelli, 2001)
- Engineers are often required to keep their findings within their organization for business and/or security reasons
- Often reluctant or prohibited from seeking or sharing sensitive information with peers external to own organization
- Engineers more likely to use handbooks, standards, specifications and technical reports
- Questions usually of short answer type with answer found in handbooks
- Engineers read fewer journal articles per year on average than scientists, but spend more time reading each article they deem relevant (Tenopir and King, 2003)
- Unlike scientists the goal of the engineer is to produce or design a product, process or system; not to publish and make original contributions to the literature. Engineers unlike scientists, work within time constraints; they are not interested in theory, source data, and guides to the literature nearly as much as they are in reliable answers to specific questions. (H.R. Brinberg. The Contributions of Information to Economic Growth and Development. 1980)
- Prominent in field of engineering
- Often required to obtain grant money
- Common publication format for practicing engineers or those in the for profit sector
- NTIS (National Technical Information Services) from U.S. Department of Commerce