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Careers in engineering

Engineering encompasses everything from designing cars for Ford to sneakers for LeBron James!

Careers in engineering

In high school, Manh-Dan Ngo wanted to study medicine. When she got to college, she changed her mind but “still wanted to save the world.”

Ngo, 24, found her niche as a biomedical engineer, a career that lets her dabble in some really cool things. “I’m now involved in development of a scaffold used to grow a skin substitute,” she says.

Shaping the future is not the only part of engineering that Ngo enjoys. “You get to use what you learned to creatively solve problems,” she says. “Plus, you get this cool intimidation effect when you tell people what you do.”

Investigating and re-mediating chemical leaks and spills is what environmental engineer Dean Krebs does. The chance to problem solve is what drew him, too, to engineering.

“One thing that I like about the industry is that it is ever-changing, and many times you need to develop a new solution to a problem,” Krebs says.

Education, skills
It’s no coincidence that the ability to problem solve is one skill these engineers keep highlighting. “Engineering is about problem solving,” Krebs says. “If you enjoy dreaming up solutions to problems, engineering is a great field.”

But you don’t have to have an engineer’s imagination before you start your major. Courses such as structural properties, dynamics, in-depth  chemistry, reactions at the molecular level and calculus help you develop your thought process.

“Obviously, math and science courses are very important,” Krebs says. “But beyond that, you need to be a thinker. Engineering is so broad that most people can find a discipline they enjoy.”

To succeed in an engineering program, Ngo recommends sharpening your physics and calculus skills and reading up on cutting-edge technology. Also keep your sights focused on your ultimate goal. “There’s a stigma about going to school for engineering,” she says of Dilbert-style teasing, “especially if you’re a woman. Don’t let that stop you.”

The engineering field encompasses careers in biology, water resource management, environmental engineering and computing systems, just to name a few. Here are some other careers to consider.

If you’re looking to apply your love of biology with engineering, consider becoming an agricultural engineer. They design farm machinery and equipment and design the structures used in agriculture. They are also involved in soil and water conservation, as well as improving agricultural products like fertilizer and machines.

You could also work as a consultant to farmers and related organizations, manage crops and livestock, work for the government or a variety of other jobs.

Biomedical engineers use biology, medicine and engineering skills to solve problems relating to health. You can get involved in research on humans and animals, design medical instruments or artificial organs, prosthetics and diagnostic tools. This is a growing field, as people are living longer than ever before due to biological and technological advances.

Chemicals are what engineers in this specialty use to solve problems. Chemical engineers can work in a variety of manufacturing industries, healthcare, biotechnology and business services industries. As a chemical engineer, you’ll use skills in physics, math, mechanics and chemistry. The manufacturing industry employs the majority of all chemical engineers, primarily in the chemicals, electronics, petroleum refining, paper and related industries.

Do you marvel at how various structures are built? Consider civil engineering, where you’ll design and supervise the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, water supply and sewage systems. Civil engineers can be self-employed or work in major industrial centers or construction sites.

These engineers deal with—you guessed it—electrical systems. Think power distribution, testing electronic products, building robots and airplane systems. Machine manufacturing, cell phone technology development and organizing the electrical wiring in buildings and cars are also in the realm of the electrical engineer.

Are you a good organizer? Are you able to see through the details to determine the best way to do a project? You might have what it takes to be an industrial engineer. Industrial engineers are responsible for figuring out the most effective ways for companies to use their machines, technology, money and people to produce a quality product in the shortest amount of time. As an industrial engineer, you may work in communications, manufacturing or consulting. You could be responsible for production safety, general quality control or a specific project.

Mechanical engineers are involved in development, research, testing and production. They design products and systems, such as engines and generators, using computer-assistant design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). Many mechanical engineering jobs include developing and manufacturing more efficient machinery.


What’s engineering technology?
When researching colleges, you might come across a major called engineering technology. This is a more hands-on, lab-focused alternative to the more concept-driven engineering major. Engineering technologists, reports the American Association for Engineering Education, work with engineers to complete projects. “The engineers plan and design products, then the engineering technologists help make them a reality,” explains Check out that site for more about engineering technology.

Check out these other engineering careers:
Fire protection engineering
Industrial engineering
Metallurgy and materials engineering
Naval engineering
Nuclear engineering
Ocean engineering
Optical engineering
Plastics engineering
Robotics engineering
Safety engineering
Software engineering
Transportation engineering

Source: National Society of Professional Engineers Education Foundation

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