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Engineering is a highly diverse field. People with a wide variety of interests can find their home in the field as there are numerous areas which all deal with creating solutions to different types of problems. With its array of areas and generous annual salaries, which according to the National Science Foundation was $87,000 in 2010, many find themselves attracted to this innovative field.
The field deals with using scientific and mathematical concepts to solve problems. These solutions culminate in usable products and systems that people use to enhance their lives. While the field can be highly abstract, the end goal is always to develop a product that has a practical use and is cost effective to the greatest extent possible. The specific job duties of an engineer are highly dependent on the area of engineering in which they work. For example, a mechanical engineer’s day may involve diagnosing faulty equipment to make recommendations. A civil engineer may spend their day utilizing software to design a transportation system.
A good engineer will possess many useful skills. Creativity is needed to envision how to create new products and improve systems. Problem-solving skills are needed to troubleshoot during the designing phase to ensure the products function seamlessly. An in-depth understanding of mathematics is necessary to understand how to apply complex analyses. Good mechanical skills are also needed to understand how certain processes work. They should also have good time management skills as deadlines are constantly at the forefront of many projects. There are also many skills needed to work effectively with people. Engineers should be team players as they work with others for product inventions. They should have the ability to communicate effectively with others and be good listeners to work productively on a team.
There are over 200 areas of engineering. However, they all can be placed in one of four of the main categories of engineering:
All fields require designing, developing, and testing of certain products or systems, which vary based on the area of engineering that’s involved.
Mechanical engineers deal with mechanical devices such as machines and engines. Chemical engineers deal with products that use:
Civil engineers deal with public and private infrastructure and systems like:
- sewage treatment systems
Electrical engineers deal with electrical equipment such as Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and broadcast systems.
Some fields of engineering are more viable than other and experience different growth rates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical, environmental, and civil engineering are expected to have the highest growth rates from 2014 to 2024 in the field of engineering with growth rates of 23 percent, 12 percent, and 8 respectively. Alternatively, electronic (excluding computer), aerospace, and nuclear engineering are expected to lose jobs for the same time period.
Many complex skills are needed to be a successful and productive engineer. For those who do possess these skills, the field of engineering can prove to be desirable by providing high-quality job prospects and an abundance of areas for varying interests.