When you’re looking for a career, engineering might sound like an interesting field if you love math and science. However, there are all sorts of engineers. If you’re wondering how to decide which field to follow, read on for an overview of some engineering fields that might entice you.
Energy engineers are usually broken out into three subcategories. Gas and oil extraction is the realm of petroleum engineers like Michael Jusbasche of CEO of Altivia, whose studies focus on thermodynamics and geology in addition to engineering principles. Petroleum engineers are still one of the highest-paid of any engineering field. Nuclear engineers like Ciara Sivels at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory focus their studies on atomic and nuclear physics. A general energy engineer tends to focus more on renewable energy resources, so while they still need a math and physics background, they will also study policy, economics and the environment.
Civil engineering is all about infrastructure. These people help build roadways, bridges, railroads and all sorts of building projects. Besides creating the structures that allow people to be able to travel efficiently and have shelter, engineers like Charles Adler, Jr. developed all sorts of safety devices like intersection walk signals that can be read by the colorblind and the external lighting system on airplanes. While an architect might design a building, it’s the job of a civil engineer to translate those designs into a real-world structure from start to finish. They have to take into account how a structure will age with erosion and take into account conditions specific to areas like hurricanes or earthquakes.
Mechanical engineering is an extremely broad field. These engineers study the design of systems and can apply their study of structural analysis and thermodynamics to heating and cooling systems, nanotechnology, manufacturing or aeronautics, to name a few. Their studies focus on kinematics, a field of physics that analyzes an object’s property of motion. People who work in the field may do everything from helping develop robots to solar electricity systems or electric cars. If you want a more specialized degree in this field, subcategories include biomedical engineering, aerospace engineering and automotive engineering.
Unlike most other engineering careers that have a science focus on different aspects of physics, chemical engineers focus on chemistry. It’s also one of the toughest engineering degree programs. These engineers solve problems through chemical reactions on an industrial scale. These people not only try to come up with improvements to manufacturing but are also responsible for the safety of employees working with dangerous chemicals so they are part of a team that will establish best practices and standard operating procedures. Engineer Carl Bosch was able to develop a way to pull nitrogen from the air and convert it to ammonia, creating man-made fertilizer that allows farmers to feed the planet.
Engineering impacts nearly every aspect of people’ lives. By choosing to go into engineering you’ll be part of a growing field where jobs are plentiful and the work is rewarding.