Introduction to Engineering

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Pont du Gard - Roman aqueduct

Image - Pont du Gard - The Ancient Romans built aqueducts to bring a steady supply of clean fresh water to cities and towns in the empire

"Who did it?" is the primary distinction between

  • science - the study of the natural world and
  • engineering - designing objects and structure (man-made)


Engineering - the discipline and profession of applying scientific knowledge and utilizing natural laws and physical resources in order to design and implement materials, structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes that realize a desired objective and meet specified criteria.

Engineering is the practice and method of applying scientific and empirical knowledge to the service of humanity, and is distinct from the physical sciences, which are studies of the natural universe.

Engineering - creating solutions with ideas, processes, tools - exploring the "designed world", different from scientific method and the natural world.


Engineers use their imagination and analytical skills to invent, design, and build things that matter. They are team players with independent minds who turn ideas into reality. Many become licensed professional engineers (P.E.s) in order to better protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. By dreaming up creative and practical solutions, engineers are changing the world all the time.

Engineers design and build aircraft (Aerospace), roads and buildings (Civil / Structural), computers and electronics (Electrical), machines and vehicles (Mechanical), medical devices (Biomedical), systems to clean up pollution (Environmental), agricultural equipment and processes (Agricultural), processing plants (Chemical), new materials (Materials) and much, much more. Without engineering, the world would be a very different place.

There are many examples of great engineering achievements. These include: Electrification, Automobile, Airplane, Water Supply and Distribution, Electronics, Radio and Television, Agricultural Mechanization and much more.

Engineering ideas


Failure as a concept
From an engineer's point of view, Failure is an important concept. All inventions have failures along the way. All inventions are designed for specific functions but they aren't designed to do everything. If an invention is used in a way that it wasn't designed for and it fails or can't handle that use, it is no surprise. It may be a failure, but that isn't bad. It is a fact.

Failure can be positive in engineering. With team work, using the design process, celebrate process not just success, nurture ideas, sharing examples, engineers put failure to good use. Maximize experimentation.

Who wants to be an Engineer?
Many young people don't know what engineering is or what engineers do. Engineer is a great college and career choice. But how do you find out about that? Don't you have to be really good at math to be an engineer? Engineer degree programs focus machines and buildings, but there is so much more to engineering! Engineers also work in [[sports], BioMedical medicine, entertainment and food.


Engineers at work
Although some engineers do build bridges, that isn't all they do. Most engineers work in five technology areas: [/construction construction] (civil, mechanical) building bridges, industrial, operations, management, manufacturing, chemical, [/process%20control process control]), [/communications communications], [/electrical%20and%20electronic electrical and electronic], and [/computers computers], [/environmental environmental], [/transportation transportation] [/aerospace aerospace], and [/biomedical biomedical] technologies. Engineers are always interested in the [/human%20factors human factors] - how people will use the tools and machines. If something goes wrong, [/failure%20analysis failure analysis] engineers figure out what went wrong and fix it. They also manage and lead projects and people. [/Working%20in%20Engineering more...]

Engineering and society
Engineers work to make solutions to solve human needs. Many engineered solutions benefit humanity in ways we take for granted. Life would be different without clean running water, flush toilets, comfortable houses, cars and the roads to drive on. Water pumps, flush toilets, air conditioning, electric vehicles, road construction, [/environmental protecting the environment], and so much. The Draper Prize recognizes innovative engineering achievements and their reduction to practice in ways that have led to important benefits and significant improvement in the well-being and freedom of humanity. [/Benefiting%20society more...]

Engineering, Research and Science Discovery
Engineers play an important role in science and [/Research discovery]. NASA employs many more engineers than scientists, because the engineers design and build the research equipment, delivery systems and analysis tools for the scientists to do their work. Satellites, space probes, space shuttles, Mars rovers and spacecraft are all the work of engineers working on massive projects in the support of science. Hubble Space Telescope, International Space Station, Shuttle, lunar lander, Mars rovers - Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, Voyager, [/Aerospace more...]

STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Math
Engineering is the the E in [/STEM STEM]. However, Science and Technology get most of the attention. Everyone talks about the science advances of NASA but most of the work of NASA is engineering - designing and building rockets, spacecraft, Mars rovers, satellites and advanced aircraft.

More versions are being introduced. STEAM - A is for Arts or Agriculture, Media, Arts, Science, and Technology, STEM-H - H is for Health. Even an additional E for Education.

Engineering Games and Simulations
Sometimes the best way to understand what engineers do is to try your hand at it! There are many engineering games on the internet to give you a first hand try at the problem solving skills engineers employ every day! [/Games%20and%20simulations more...]

College competitions

  • EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge - MSU’s automotive design team members are ready to put their education in gear as they prepare for the second phase of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. With more than 130 team members and a GM donated vehicle waiting in the garage, the team will begin implementing its award winning automotive design which promises to earn over 100 miles per gallon fuel economy. Click here to watch.
  • Solar Challenge - college teams race the solar vehicles they design and build across Australia


Top Engineering disciplines
There are more than 100 engineering specialties. There is something for everyone. There are many other specialties that fall within these major disciplines.
[/Aerospace Aerospace], [/Biomedical Biomedical], [/Chemical Chemical], [/Civil Civil], [/Computer%20science Computer], [/Electrical Electrical], [/Environmental Environmental], [/Industrial%2C%20Manufacturing Industrial, Manufacturing], [/Materials Materials], [/Mechanical Mechanical], [/Transportation Transportation]. Other specializations that cross disciplines include Systems and Engineering Management engineering.


Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on...

  • Engineer Career Quiz - Are you considering becoming an engineer? This quiz will help you find out if you have the personal characteristics you need to have a career as an engineer.



Learn more...


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