Glossary of Engineering Terms

Aerospace engineering involves developing, designing, testing, and helping to manufacture commercial and military aircraft, missiles and spacecraft, and new technologies in commercial aviation, defense systems, and space exploration. Aerospace engineers have specialties within aerodynamics, propulsion, thermodynamics, structures, celestial mechanics, acoustics, and guidance and control systems.

Agricultural engineering involves every aspect of food production, processing, marketing, and distribution. Agricultural engineers design and develop agricultural and food processing equipment, irrigation systems, grain storage facilities, feed mills, and farm structures.

Biomedical engineering applies engineering principles and design to the biology and medical arena to improve health care and the lives of those with medical impairments. Bringing together knowledge from many engineering disciplines and technical fields, biomedical engineers design medical instruments, devices, and software; develop new procedures; conduct research; and solve clinical problems.

Chemical engineering applies principles of chemistry and physics to the design and production of materials that undergo chemical changes during their manufacture. Chemical engineers also participate in efforts to maintain a clean environment and to create substitutes for or find ways to preserve our natural resources.

Civil (General & Structural)
Civil engineering involves planning, designing, and building a wide variety of structures and facilities. These include bridges, roads and highways, dams, high-rise buildings, airports, water treatment centers, industrial manufacturing and processing facilities, and sanitation plants. Many civil engineers hold managerial and supervisory positions in government, industry, construction, and private practice. Others may work in research and teaching.

Computer engineering involves the design, construction, and operation of computer systems. Computer engineers work on both computer hardware and software (programming) problems.

Control Systems
Control systems engineering involves the design and manufacture of instrumentation and ways to control dynamic processes automatically. Such engineers draw on a variety of disciplines, including elements of electrical, mechanical, and chemical, and focus on the technologies needed for feedback and feedforward control of dynamic systems. These engineers ensure safe and efficient system performance.

Electrical & Electronics
Electrical and electronics engineering is the practical application of electricity. Electrical engineers are concerned with electrical devices and systems and with the use of electrical energy.

Environmental engineering is the development of processes and infrastructure for the supply of water, the disposal of waste, and the control of all kinds of pollution. The work of environmental engineers protects public health by preventing disease transmission and preserves the quality of the environment by averting the contamination and degradation of air, water, and land resources.

Geotechnical engineering uses the principles of mechanics to analyze and predict the behavior of earth materials. Expertise in this area is gained through a degree in civil engineering and is required for the design and construction of most, if not all, civil structures.

Industrial engineering identifies the most effective ways for an organization to use the basic factors of people, processes, technology, materials, information, and energy to make or process a product. Industrial engineers plan, design, implement, and manage integrated production and service delivery systems that ensure performance, reliability, and maintainability.

Manufacturing engineering includes all aspects of manufacturing operations, including the behavior and properties of materials and materials processes; the design of products, equipment, and tooling necessary for their manufacture; management of manufacturing enterprises; and, the design and operation of manufacturing systems.

Mechanical engineering applies the principles of mechanics and energy to the design of machines and devices. Perhaps the broadest of all engineering disciplines, mechanical engineering is generally combined into three broad areas: energy, structures and motion in mechanical systems, and manufacturing.

Mining engineering comprises all aspects of discovering, removing, and processing minerals from the earth. Mining engineers design the mine layout, supervise its construction, devise systems to transport minerals to processing plants, and develop plans to return the area to its natural state.

Nuclear engineering involves the design, construction, and operation of nuclear power plants for power generation, propulsion of nuclear submarines, and space power systems. Nuclear engineers are involved in the handling of nuclear fuels and the safe disposal of radioactive wastes.

Petroleum engineering involves sustaining the flow of oil and gas, including discovery, recovery, storage, and transportation of petroleum. Petroleum engineers integrate many engineering specializations into an efficient system of oil and gas drilling, production, and processing.

Sanitary engineering is a branch of civil and environmental engineering that deals with sanitary issues affecting public health, such as safe drinking water and sewage disposal. Among other things, sanitary engineers deal with preventing toxins and dangerous microorganisms from endangering the public in such systems.