We will be talking a lot about engineers here – the types of engineering, how to get into a good engineering program in college, engineering activities you can do at home, how engineers think, how engineers solve problems…

But what is an engineer? What kinds of things do engineers do?

Engineers solve problems and help people. Sometimes they invent brand new designs to solve these problems while sometimes they improve on designs that have already been created.

Here are a few examples of the types of engineers, what they study, and the work they do:

Aerospace engineers apply concepts of math, physics, and engineering to develop and improve upon vehicles which travel above the surface of the earth.

Biological engineers apply concepts of math, biology and physical sciences to solve problems related to the management of soil and water resources, pollution control, farm structures, and more.

Biomedical engineers study medical and biological sciences, math, and physics to solve problems and make advancements for hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device and testing companies, and more.

Chemical engineers use their knowledge of chemistry, physics, and math to solve a variety of problems ranging from converting crude oil into useful products, to minimizing pollutants reaching our air and water systems, to manufacturing textiles, personal care products, and microchips.

Civil engineers apply their study of math and physics to address the planning, construction, and improvement of structures such as bridges, buildings, power facilities, dams, airports, and roadways.

Computer engineers is an exciting field which creates and improves biomedical devices, home automation systems, environmental controls, intelligent automobile control systems, industrial robotics, and more.

Computer scientists work on designing and improving computer systems which assist in everything from medical imaging systems, cars, and communication systems to vending machines, video games, and the monitoring of agricultural production.

Electrical engineers study physics, math, electronics, and computer programming to design and improve on both a small and large scale: microchips, communication systems, robots, biomedical devices, and the larger distribution of electrical power to people’s homes and businesses are just some examples.

Environmental engineers rely on their knowledge of life science, physical science, and math to solve problems addressing waste management, air and water pollution, hazardous waste disposal, and keeping our environment safe while populations grow.

Industrial engineers are often forgotten – these engineers study physical and social sciences to optimize the quality and productivity of systems, often in manufacturing and production, even including crowd flow in entertainment venues and theme parks.

Material science engineers design and improve upon all of the materials that surround our days and are essential to the fields of energy, medical devices, manufacturing, textiles, paper, and even aircraft and automotives.

Mechanical engineers play a hand in anything that has moving parts and spend time studying thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, machines, controls, and engineering design.

Nuclear engineers not only work on the design, maintenance, and improvement of power plants, but also on problems such as the diagnosis and treatment of disease and power systems for deep space travel.

Adapted from NCSU’s list of engineering majors and careers

The coolest thing about engineering is that no discipline works alone. Want to build an airplane? You will need aerospace engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, material science engineers, and chemical engineers.

Instead of thinking about the type of engineer you want to be, try thinking about the problems you want to solve. You might be surprised about all of the different paths you can take to your ideal career!

Want more information? Both of these videos from Crash Course Kids do a great job of sharing lots of examples of the types of work that engineers do – it’s limitless!

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