Engineering is the application of scientific or physical knowledge to the development of a product. Technology refers to the tools that are used to develop these products. Engineering is an old profession dating to the times before Christ, but it has become a highly technical field relying on “cutting edge technology.” The results of engineering surround our existence, but to achieve these results engineers consume an enormous amount of research and development time. Today’s engineering researchers have to have a strong background in the sciences.
Specialization is the basis of all engineering. These specialized subfields include:
- Agricultural Engineering—an expanding field that is concerned with developing better ways to produce food and fibers. It includes machinery, plant engineering, genetic engineering, and soil engineering and works closely with areas of science such as chemistry, medicine, nutrition, botany, zoology, and environmental science.
- Chemical Engineering—a discipline that studies how basic raw materials, such as ores, salts, sulfur, limestone, coal, natural gas, petroleum, air, and water are converted into a variety of products through various chemical processes. These products include aluminium, magnesium, and titanium metals; fuels; solvents; synthetic fertilizers; resins; plastics; antibiotics; paper; and petrochemicals.
- Civil Engineering—a field that is basically concerned with the planning, design, construction, and management of any work project or facility, including buildings, structures, transportation facilities, water resource projects, dams, bridges, power generation plants, roads, harbors, river management, canals, wastewater facilities, sanitation facilities, soil mechanics, and foundations. Specialized areas within civil engineering include building engineering, structural engineering, highway engineering, transportation engineering, bridge engineering, tunnel engineering, coastal engineering, harbor and river engineering, dam engineering, hydraulics engineering, sanitary engineering, engineering geology, and soils engineering.
- Electrical Engineering—an area that is concerned with the development of electrical power through any number of processes, including generators, wind, solar, water, and nuclear means. It is closely related to electronics, which is the control and use of electricity.
- Engineering Design—an area that covers the initial creation of systems, devices, and processes. It is actually a part of all areas of engineering, with each engineer practicing engineering design.
- Environmental Engineering—a fast expanding field concerned with all aspects of the environment and how to protect it. It includes such concerns as pollution, pesticide control, cleaner air, waste, ecology, and nuclear safety. These engineers work closely with engineers in all areas to ensure the best environmental conditions possible.
- Industrial Engineering—the branch of engineering that uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry to design, improve, and install integrated systems that involve people, materials, equipment, and energy. In other words, it is the branch of engineering that seeks to improve efficiency. It is concerned with machines, robotics, materials, energy, and management.
- Mechanical Engineering—this field of engineering is the application of physics in the development of any useful product. There is a little bit of mechanical engineering in all fields of engineering, including engineering graphics, robotics, engineering instruments, mechanics, strains and stresses, strength of materials, and testing.
- Mining Engineering—the area that is concerned with all aspects of mining for minerals and hard fuels, such as coals. Liquid fuels are part of Petroleum Engineering.
- Nuclear Engineering—the broad area of engineering that is concerned with all aspects of producing energy through the use of nuclear power.
- Petroleum Engineering—the study of producing oil and gas from the well to the consumer.
This chapter has taken all of these disciplines and grouped them into the following subcategories:
The major indexing service for engineering research is the Engineering Index. The engineering field is the major developer of handbooks. The first handbooks were intended to be a one-volume reference work that could be carried around in an engineer’s pocket. Today, however, many of these handbooks are larger and more comprehensive.
- General Engineering/Technology
- Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
- Civil Engineering, Building, and Construction
- Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Industry and Manufacturing
- Mechanical Engineering