By Dr Eugene Brink
Engineering is all around us in the objects and systems we use and see. This ubiquity proves that engineering is highly specialised and vary considerably.
Although some soft skills and certain industry skills are universally required, some niche specialisation is needed in each field and prospective engineers would do well to heed these requirements. However, engineering fields do overlap to a certain extent and engineers can cross over into other specialisations.
Due to lack of space, this will be a cursory glance at the varied character of this sought-after profession.
- Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering entails the study of the design, development and production of air and spacecraft. This discipline is often split between those who pursue careers on the aeronautical side and those working on space craft. Many engineering groups such as electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering are involved in aerospace projects.
In short, mechanical engineers design and manufacture products and machines. It is also one of the most diverse branches of engineering and mechanical engineers have been involved in creating things from spacecraft to microscale sensors and car parts.
Disciplines within the mechanical engineering field include aerospace, automotive, computer-aided design (CAD), robotics, nanotechnology, and more.
This is one of the most recognised fields within engineering. Civil engineers specialise in the design and construction of roads, bridges, buildings and water supply systems. They work with other engineers and supervise and direct construction teams.
They ensure that every structure is built to comply with environmental standards and can withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. They work in offices and on site.
This is the practical application of chemistry and is also one of the most complex fields of engineering. Chemical engineers use both engineering and science to process food, create industrial chemicals, and make pharmaceuticals. They are in high demand due to the wide array of industries that make use of the products they design and manufacture.
Electrical engineers specialise in power supply and generation and design, and the development, testing and supervision of electrical equipment manufacturing. They are also trained to handle responsibilities such as wiring and lighting installations in buildings, automobiles and aircraft. An electrical engineer’s training is so extensive that they may enter different industries such as construction, manufacturing and design.
Technology and electronics have become ubiquitous and have revolutionised the world. Most people use elctronics every day, from laptops to personal computers, iPads and cellphones. Electronics engineers design and build electronic equipment and most electronics engineers work with circuits, switchboards, and other electronic configurations.
Software engineers are responsible for the testing, design, development and maintenance of computer software for business and personal use. They use mathematics, engineering and computer science in creating and managing software.
Industrial engineering is a versatile field of engineering. Industrial engineers use a combination of science, mathematics and engineering methods to design equipment, buildings, and information systems. They help with the management and operation of businesses by determining how many workers are required for a project, how long the project will take, and the process involved. They work in sectors as wide-ranging as healthcare, finance, entertainment, technology, manufacturing, and more.
Austin Nichols, 1 May 2019, “5 different types of engineers explained”, https://www.austintec.com/5-different-types-engineers-explained/.
EducatingEngineers.com, 2020, “Engineer career list”, https://educatingengineers.com/career-specialties.
Types of Engineering Degrees, 2020, “40 different types of engineering degrees”, https://typesofengineeringdegrees.org/#chemical.