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What is Engineering?: A Journey Through the Field We All Love

Engineer's helmet
Engineer's helmet

There is a certain ring to the word engineer and every engineer loves to use the “Yes, I’m an engineer” phrase without fatigue all day long. A profession in engineering is also considered to be one among the most desirable according to many polls conducted over the years, however, what is engineering?

We are not asking about the standard textbook definition here, but a deeper question about a stream of science that gave us men and women who went on to shape the world!

Engineering — the definition

To put it simply, Engineering is the application of science to solve real-world problems and engineers are the ones who are trained to do so. As we turn the pages of history, it’s easy to see how the engineers left their mark on this world, and the modern world that we live in is quite impossible without them.

How many types of engineers are there?

The word engineer is very comprehensive, however, it is vital to know that there are six different types of engineers in the field. These types can have subtypes within them, but there exist only 6 major segments.

Mechanical Engineering

This field is obviously related to machine and mechanical engineers play a vital role from the design to manufacture of machines. And these machines can range their complexity and sizes, each one designed and built for specific purposes.

The biggest machine built till date is the Large Hadron Collider, which has a circumference of 27 Kilometers, becoming the world’s largest particle accelerator.

Other inventions like the Big Bertha and The Prelude show how far human engineering can be pushed when you think of the biggest and greatest.

Civil Engineering

The need for construction of buildings and other physical structures were a part of the human civilization, and we can even say that civil engineering predates any other form of engineering. when you look at the scale of the highest building the world, or the concrete domes that cover Chernobyl from leaking nuclear energy which shows how important civil engineering is for both development as well as sustainability.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering might sound like a branch of engineering solely handling chemicals, but it compasses various branches science within itself like biology, physics, math etc. The purification of water using chlorination and processing of metals using chemicals are all byproducts of the chemical engineering feats that have graced the world.

Chemical engineers are in high demand today due to the advancements in rechargeable batteries that are stated to be the future of transport. There are also active researches going on to create healing gels that would boost human wound recovery by a great margin.

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineering can be said the driver behind the modern industries. Petroleum engineering related to the processing of oils that we get from the earth. By engineering crude oil, we get all sorts of products from jet fuel to petroleum jelly.

The vehicle that roams the earth would not have been possible without petroleum engineers. Petroleum engineering is almost always ranked as the topmost paying engineering roles.

Electrical/Electronics Engineering

The world has taken a stance for an electric future and electrical engineers are hard at work bringing it into fruition. Electrical engineering pertains to the generation and application of electricity.

They are also the people behind the invention of electric devices that use electricity.

There is no doubt in their market reach because you are now reading this text off from an electronic device. Modern automation calls for more electrical engineering and the onset of renewable energy have projected electrical engineers as the saviors of the modern world.

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineers defied what we can do as a human, to enable flight! Nowadays, air travel has become common than ever before.

But the sky isn’t the limit for Aerospace engineers. We have explored space, literally left our footprint on the moon, and now, plans for colonizing Mars are underway.

Can Engineers and Scientists see eye to eye?

There is always this rivalry that we have heard between Scientists and Engineers. When Elon Musk was asked “Who is better, Scientists or Engineers?” he answered the same without thinking twice — Engineers. But one who puts it better than Elon is Einstein:

“Scientists investigate that which already is; engineers create that which has never been.”

This is true in every sense when you think about it. There has always been a hierarchical dispute that goes unspoken between scientists and engineers. Even though both won’t show, the subtle tension on who is better is omnipresent when they are in the same room!

Basically, scientists discover a phenomenon that is present in the world, however, we cannot leverage these phenomena to our advantage unless we understand them. Scientists help us decode things better and engineers are ones who actually use these findings to create something that isn’t there.

So they both complement each other and it results in inventions that come of use to us, the common people. Don’t think them as enemies, but two master races that help each other, and mankind along the way in their fight to be on top.

Today, engineers are getting their long overdue fame from a variety of fields, cinema and comics being the prime venues. Tony Stark is an engineer and multiple theories confirm Bruce Wayne is also an engineer, a time to rejoice indeed!

They are also becoming an inspiration for many young engineers. But Engineering isn’t for everyone.

Remember, you don’t choose engineering, engineering chooses you!

Kashyap Vyas is an entrepreneur, marketer and writer. He holds a Master’s degree in Thermal Engineering with several research papers to his credit. Vyas originally wrote this article for Interesting Engineering.

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