Which Engineering Discipline Is Right for You?

by Josh Biggs in Tips on 17th August 2020

Engineering is a varied and extensive subject – and with so many different types of engineering available to study, choosing the right one for you isn’t always the easiest. In order to make the decision easier on yourself, it’s a good idea to try and identify what you are the most passionate about. What tends to get you more excited? Where would you choose to spend your spare time?

All engineering types will generally involve some kind of problem-solving and focus on coming up with solutions to make life easier, but which engineering-related solution gets you the most excited? Choosing a subject that you are naturally interested in and passionate about will make it easier for you to stay focused and motivated as a student, and stay actively involved with the subject throughout your engineering career. Here are the various engineering branches that you might be interested in studying, to help you find the right one for you. 

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers work with scientific processes to produce useful substances or materials. Chemical engineering is a very multidisciplinary field since it combines both experimental and natural sciences and life sciences in the engineering process. As a chemical engineer, you will need to be experienced in a range of scientific subjects such as microbiology, biology, and biochemistry, along with economics and mathematics. 

This type of engineering is an ideal choice for anybody who is also interested in studying the life sciences or natural sciences. If you have an analytical mindset and an interest in the chemical processes that are behind the production of everyday items, this type of engineering could be right for you. 

There are various specialist areas of chemical engineering that you might be interested in pursuing, including plant design, process engineering, transport phenomena, process engineering, and process design. 

Computer Engineering

Computer engineers work with the design and prototyping of computer hardware and software. The subject is strongly involved with computer science, combined with electrical engineering, and it is often studied alongside a relevant IT subject. 

Many people who get into computer engineering are interested in a software career such as a computer engineer or a software designer. You may find that this career path is an ideal one for you if you want to become an expert on the intricate details of computer operation and are interested in science, math, and technology. 

There are several computer engineering specializations that are also part of computer science degrees such as network security or computer graphics. However, there is also a range of unique specialized subjects to consider, such as computer architecture, VHDL, and microprocessor systems. 

Aeronautical Engineering

These engineers are concerned with the research, design, development, construction, science, technology, and testing of aircraft. It is also closely related to astronautical engineering, which focuses on spacecraft and space conditions. 

Perhaps you have a keen interest in the history and methodology of aircraft and want to learn as much about it as you can from the earliest concepts to the advancements of the modern aircraft that we are all so familiar with today. This career path will be an ideal choice for you if you want to learn more about the mechanics of flight travel and are interested to see how aircraft machinery performs under extreme conditions. 

There are various different specializations to choose from when you decide to pursue aeronautical engineering, including aeroelasticity, avionics, structures and materials, propulsion, and aerodynamics. 

Civil Engineering

Civil engineering refers to the professional practice of designing and developing a large range of infrastructure projects. This could be on a smaller scale, for example, the development of a single building or road, or on a larger scale, such as the development of a large water supply network or a nationwide travel system. 

If you have a keen interest in designing and building things, this type of engineering could be an ideal choice for you. It will give you an ideal chance to develop your design skills – especially when it comes to computer-aided design (CAD). It’s a great choice for anybody who is interested in hydraulics, mechanics, materials science, geotechnics, and statistical analysis. 

There are various civil engineering specialisms to choose from, including transportation engineering, architectural engineering, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, hydraulic engineering and environmental engineering. 

Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Electrical power applications are the main focus of electrical and electronics engineering. Although the two fields are similar, there are some key differences to be aware of. Electrical engineers tend to focus more heavily on the production and supply of electrical power on a much larger scale, while on the other hand, electronics engineers’ careers are focused on smaller electronic circuits like those used in tech gadgets and computers. 

Electrical or electronics engineering could be an ideal pathway for you if you have a keen interest in how electrical systems and devices work, and you are excited about the idea of being able to work on future technological developments. It’s a great choice of career for anybody who has a natural instinct to understand the set-up of any electrical system and tends to have plenty of ideas for improvement.

There are several areas of specialization to choose from when you study electronics or electrical engineering. These include communications and media, power supply, power generation, robotic systems, computing systems, and more. 

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest and one of the most long-standing engineering fields in the world today. It focuses on designing, manufacturing and maintaining mechanical systems and gives you the opportunity to study a wide range of interesting topics such as stress analysis, technical drawing, mechanical design, thermodynamics, statics and dynamics, and more. 

Mechanical engineering could be an ideal choice of a career pathway for you if you enjoy working with any mechanical devices. If you are often finding yourself coming up with new, innovative ideas for future AI designs, for example, you would enjoy a rewarding career as a mechanical engineer. It may be the right field for you if you enjoy the idea of working as part of a varied and interdisciplinary team in order to further develop and better the mechanical technologies of today. 

Since mechanical engineering is a very broad subject, it often overlaps with several other fields of engineering, particularly aeronautical and civil engineering. Because of this, it can be an ideal choice for somebody interested in engineering who wants to try various different things before figuring out where’s best to narrow down to. There is a wide range of specializations within mechanical engineering including combustion, robotics, manufacturing, nanotechnology and transportation systems. Those interested in mechanical and electronics engineering might be interested in mechatronics engineering – a discipline that combines both mechanical and electronic engineering. 

Engineering Management

Engineering management has grown rapidly recently and today, there are several pathways available for those who are interested in pursuing a management position from any field of engineering. Universities such as Kettering University Online have developed comprehensive, dedicated engineering management programs such as the MSEN in order to meet the demand for engineers who have a strong management focus. In addition, many engineers who want to get into management might benefit from getting an MBA – while it is not engineering-focused as a degree program, many engineers have already developed a lot of the skills required to be successful in the business and thrive on an MBA program, which, when combined with their existing engineering qualification and experience, allows them to seriously improve their engineering management skills. 

In order to become an engineering manager, you will typically need to have completed a degree in your chosen field of engineering and have gained some experience in the field. The ideal person for engineering management has a keen understanding of and interest in the application of engineering within the various business settings, and the challenges that are faced by the various teams. An engineering management degree might be the ideal choice for you if you want to get into a management role as quickly as possible while still getting the chance to apply the technical knowledge that you have gained so far. You will have a strong interest in leadership and a keen interest in overseeing and leading engineering projects from start to finish.

Engineering management is another very broad area that applies to every field of engineering. There are various engineering management fields that you may be interested in specializing in, which include operations management, business statistics, decision engineering, engineering statistics, management science, and engineering mathematics. 

No matter what field of engineering you decide is the best option for you, you can be sure of one thing – engineers play a vital part in our world today. Whether you are working on large-scale electrical systems, developing water supplies for local areas, designing aircraft, or working with the intricate electronics systems of devices like smartphones, every engineer has a very important job that affects the wider world around them. 

Which of these engineering specialisms resonates with you and your interests the most and why? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you. 

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