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One of the core STEM disciplines, engineering involves the use of mathematical and scientific principles. Engineers design and implement practical solutions to problems, applying scientific discoveries and knowledge about how things work.
Depending on their degree specialization and interests, engineering graduates can work as aerospace, agricultural, biomedical, and chemical engineers. Other potential fields include civil engineering, computer hardware engineering, environmental engineering, and industrial engineering.
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To earn a bachelor's degree in engineering, learners typically complete about 120 credits, including about 60 credits of major coursework. Depending on the program structure and the student's enrollment status, bachelor's students usually graduate in 3-4 years.
Common application requirements include SAT scores, essays, and official transcripts. Many bachelor's programs require applicants to meet minimum GPA requirements, and prospective engineering students may need prerequisite math and science coursework.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architecture and engineering professionals earn a median annual salary of $81,440. The BLS projects a 3% employment increase for these occupations from 2019 to 2029. The following sections explore engineering jobs, along with accreditation, curricula, and professional organizations for students in the field.
What Can I Do With an Engineering Degree?
The engineering field comprises an extensive, practical set of disciplines and offers diverse career possibilities. Engineers often understand several areas of engineering while specializing in one area. Specialization options include chemical, biological, biomedical, and environmental engineering. Many learners focus on electrical, civil, mechanical, or industrial engineering. Additional areas of interest may include aerospace engineering, nuclear engineering, and computer engineering.
Career options for graduates with a degree in engineering depend on the individual's discipline and specialization. Working professionals in the field often pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering to qualify for higher-level positions. Professionals with a non-engineering background may pursue an engineering degree to transition to a career in the field.
Demand for engineers can vary by geographic area. To determine promising niche engineering fields in a specific region, prospective engineering students can consult state job outlook data from the BLS for various engineering careers.
Accreditation for an Engineering Degree
The best engineering programs and schools maintain accreditation. Third-party organizations award accreditation based on the academic quality of the school or program. Through an evaluation process, accrediting organizations assess academic rigor. Attending an accredited institution helps students ensure the value of their educational investment.
Institutions can receive national or regional accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) approves seven regional agencies to award accreditation to schools in specific geographic areas. Regional accreditation requires schools to meet higher standards than national accreditation and is therefore considered more prestigious. Career and religious schools often receive national accreditation. Regionally accredited schools typically only accept credits and degrees earned from other regionally accredited institutions.
Academic programs can earn accreditation from field-specialized accrediting agencies. The top engineering programs usually hold programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a nonprofit specializing in science, technology, and engineering education accreditation. Most ABET-accredited programs are housed within regionally accredited institutions.
|What does an engineer do?
|These professionals use scientific principles to solve real-world problems in various contexts. Daily activities vary widely based on field, position, and project.
|What are different types of engineering?
|Engineers usually specialize in at least one discipline. Major engineering disciplines include electrical, construction, chemical, and civil engineering.
|How do I become an engineer?
|Engineering careers usually require a bachelor's degree in a related field. Many engineers also usually must obtain professional engineer licensure through a state board.
|What do engineers do all day?
|Daily tasks depend on engineers' fields and current projects. However, most roles involve analysis, problem-solving, planning, and communication activities.
What Are the Requirements for an Engineering Degree?
Applicants to engineering programs usually need a minimum GPA of 2.5 to 3.0 and solid performance in math and science prerequisites. Some engineering schools also require recommendation letters and high quantitative SAT scores.
An engineering degree typically requires 120 credits, including at least 60 major credits. Major coursework often explores topics such as materials science and engineering, civil engineering, engineering physics, and electrical engineering. Bachelor's in engineering curricula generally include a capstone project, during which students address a real-world engineering problem.
Courses in an Engineering Program
Engineering bachelor's students complete general education requirements, engineering prerequisite coursework, and major-specific engineering courses. General engineering prerequisites or core courses usually include mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computing courses. Engineering students often complete projects that cultivate core quantitative and problem-solving skills.
Engineering students usually follow a specialized curriculum focused on a particular engineering discipline. Learners may specialize in biological engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, or mechanical engineering. Many engineering programs include the courses below.
Introduction to Engineering and Technology
Students typically complete this foundational course during the first semester of their engineering programs. This class offers a general overview of core engineering skills, tools, and design processes. Enrollees often complete group projects and cultivate essential engineering skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. Students may use computer simulations, spreadsheets, and presentation software to design, test, and evaluate engineering projects. This course is usually a prerequisite for advanced and specialized engineering courses.
Numerical Methods in Engineering
Students learn to use mathematical techniques to solve engineering problems. Enrollees become familiar with numerical analysis, modeling, and scientific computing. Learners apply foundational mathematical concepts such as linear algebra, probability, statistics, and differential equations. Students examine the relevance of mathematical techniques to chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. Coursework may also explore fluid mechanics, structural vibration, heat transference, and electromagnetics.
Practices in Civil Engineering
In this course, degree-seekers typically analyze case studies to understand built-environment engineering fundamentals. Students learn about construction materials use, structural strain and stress, and structural and transportational systems design. On-campus programs may incorporate educational field trips to engineering sites. Civil engineering often appears as a major or concentration.
Usually available as an elective or concentration course, this class familiarizes students with computer hardware, electrical engineering, and computer science. Learners typically explore software design and hardware-software integration. Coursework provides fundamental knowledge for aspiring computer engineers. Degree-seekers prepare to design and monitor computer-based machines and systems, including operating systems, microprocessors and controllers, and analog sensors. Computer engineering courses usually involve hands-on projects.
Introduction to Production and Manufacturing Systems
Many engineering programs offer an elective, concentration, and major in production and manufacturing systems. This class surveys industrial engineering history and practice. Learners explore manufacturing types, integrated production systems, and material flow systems. Students also explore the duties and activities of industrial engineers, including solving problems, designing jobs, and measuring work. This course prepares students for careers as industrial engineers, construction project managers, and operations managers.
Certifications and Licensure for Engineering Majors
A bachelor's degree in engineering satisfies the education requirements for most engineering jobs. However, engineers often obtain certifications, additional training, or licensure to demonstrate specialized skills and knowledge. See below for some common licenses and certifications for engineers.
Professional Engineer License
To help protect public health, each state regulates engineering practice. State engineering boards oversee engineering licensure, which requires candidates to pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering examination and the Fundamentals of Engineering examination. To qualify to sit for the exams, candidates typically need a four-year degree and at least four years of progressive engineering experience under a licensed professional engineer.
*Board Certified Environmental Engineering
The American Academy of Environmental Engineers Certification Board offers this certification, which demonstrates competency in environmental engineering practice. Applicants need a qualifying engineering degree and a valid professional engineer license or the equivalent. Candidates must also be full-time environmental engineers and must demonstrate good professional standing and integrity.
Professional Surveyor License
State licensing boards award this credential, which qualifies holders to work as professional surveyors. Requirements vary by state but often include a bachelor's degree in surveying and at least four years of supervised experience. Candidates must typically pass two examinations.
Professional Organizations for Engineering Majors
Engineering students can access professional development resources through professional organizations in the field. Many of these organizations provide engineering education, networking, and career resources. Student members may benefit from discounted membership rates, mentorship programs, scholarship opportunities, and student chapters.
Committed to addressing practical challenges, ASME promotes the interests of engineers, fosters collaboration across engineering fields, and creates professional codes and standards. Founded in 1880, this nonprofit delivers continuing education classes, conferences, networking opportunities, and publications.
The only national organization serving professional engineers across all disciplines, NSPE advocates for adequate compensation and ethical practices. NSPE also works to improve public awareness of the profession. The society offers certifications, professional development resources, and networking opportunities.
The world's top chemical engineering professional organization, AIChE serves more than 60,000 members in 110 countries. Member benefits include learning opportunities and access to a large professional network. AIChE also provides technical resources, professional development opportunities, and insurance.
The leading technological advancement-focused professional organization, IEEE serves engineering and technology professionals around the world. IEEE develops industry standards, hosts conferences, publishes engineering-related materials, and offers continuing education opportunities.
Many students apply for scholarships to help cover the cost of earning an engineering degree. Nonprofits, private donors, schools, and government programs offer scholarships for students in the field. Learners can qualify for awards based on their academic performance, financial need, and membership in underrepresented groups. The list below includes a sampling of the scholarships available to engineering students.
Who Can Apply: Native American undergraduate students pursuing a STEM-related degree full time can apply. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must demonstrate tribal ancestry. Candidates also need active membership with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
Amount: $1,000 for undergraduate students; $2,000 for graduate students
Who Can Apply: This renewable scholarship supports full-time college freshmen with at least 50% Filipino ancestry. Candidates must be enrolled in a STEM program at an accredited four-year school, possess a minimum 3.0 GPA, and demonstrate financial need. Applicants must reside in one of several designated California counties.
Amount: $5,000 per year
Who Can Apply: Google offers this scholarship to support learners who are studying computer engineering and who have visible or invisible disabilities. Candidates must be full-time students in Canada or the United States. Applicants must demonstrate leadership ability, academic merit, and passion for a computer-related field.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship helps learners cover tuition and education-related expenses. Freshmen, sophomore, and junior women majoring in a STEM field can apply. Learners must attend an accredited North American school full time and must not have previously received the scholarship.
Amount: $7,000, plus an expenses-paid trip to the Palantir developmental workshop in Palo Alto
Who Can Apply: Male students majoring in a STEM field at an accredited U.S. college can apply. Candidates must demonstrate U.S. citizenship, financial need, and full-time enrollment. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA. NAACP members and participants receive preference. Biological and biomedical engineering students do not qualify.
Amount: Up to $3,000
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