This article covers 18 popular types of engineering. I’m going to go over each field, and give you a lot of info nuggets too.
As I go through the 18 types of engineering, you can find answers to the following questions:
- Which field of engineering is for me?
Also, you’ll understand why I think engineering skills are powerful in the real world.
Subfields for each of the types of engineering
By and large, each field of engineering includes many subfields.
Take a step back and look around. Each technology you see has a specialty of its own.
So even if I tried, I couldn’t list all the types of engineering.
Instead, I’m focusing on what I think are the 18 main types of engineering. Then I’ll drill into subfields I find important.
Limitations with describing the 18 types of engineering
Without a doubt, overlaps exist with these 18 types of engineering.
For example, some people think materials engineering is chemical engineering. While others think materials engineering is a subfield to chemical engineering. Then another group thinks both have no relation together.
Frankly, who cares! On the whole, I want you to learn about the amazing world of engineering.
And if you don’t agree with my breakdown, I won’t take any offense.
To that end, use the below table of contents to jump to any field you like. Or, scroll down and learn about each field one by one.
#1 Aerospace Engineering
“Boldly go where no one has gone before”, the famous quote from the beloved Star Trek TV series. This quote perfectly fits the aerospace industry.
In aerospace engineering, you literally go where no one has gone before.
To point out, “aerospace” is our pursuit to fly in Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. Think of planes, jets, helicopters, drones, and even rockets and spaceships.
Not to mention, designing satellites and missiles. So, aerospace engineers fight the force of gravity with their designs.
This is how trips from America to Europe now take less than 10 hours. Whereas a century ago, it took 6 weeks of sailing in turbulent oceans.
What’s more, aerospace engineers can call themselves “rocket scientists!”
Aerospace engineering subfields
Aeronautical: design and develop aircraft. Think of airplanes and jets, gliders, and helicopters. These are crafts designed to fly inside of Earth’s atmosphere.
Astronautical: design and develop space-bound crafts. Think of the work of NASA and SpaceX.
- Aircraft design: design larger, faster, more efficient, and safer commercial planes.
- Private space tourism: design future space tourist attractions.
- Rocket and spaceship design: design spacecraft to travel to Mars and again to the Moon.
- Military aerospace engineer: develop weapon tech. Not only for national defense but to protect Earth from future asteroids.
- Pilot or crew of aircraft and spacecraft: operate these vehicles in real-time.
- Moon landing: Neil Armstrong landed and returned safely from the moon with 1960s tech.
- Sound barrier: humans broke the sound barrier in the 1940s with an aircraft weighing ~7,000 pounds.
- Aircraft: vehicles that comfortably fly people in metal tubes over oceans.
- Rockets vertically landing: SpaceX lands rockets vertically. Then they reuse the rockets for new missions.
- Electric planes: planes powered by electric motors.
- Voyage to Mars: a human mission to Mars.
- Faster planes: cut a 12-hour flight in half.
- Future sky highways: instead of a car, you quickly hop into an aircraft.
- Solar aircraft: solar-powered commercial aircraft.
- Scaling space tourism: cheap travels to the edge of Earth and beyond.
- Space exploration: human voyages to far corners of the solar system.
#2 Agricultural Engineering
With the number of mouths to feed today, we can’t just plant a seed and hope for the best.
We need smart machines to run farms. Otherwise, we can’t produce crops at scale to feed growing populations.
To illustrate, think of the high-tech tractors. They comb through cornfields methodically like robot insects.
We need to bring all farms into this new age of tech.
To that end, agricultural engineers work to make farms operate more efficiently. They design and setup farming machines, layouts, and management styles.
Climate change and farming
With the changing climate, agricultural engineers need to recreate ideal crop environments. Otherwise, growing populations will starve, as crop yields drop.
So, on top of machine design, agricultural engineers modify and augment environments.
For example, think of water runoff patterns on fields and airflow paths in barns. This all requires planning and designing.
I believe climate change will greatly advance agricultural engineering. Because we need to protect farmers, as they’re the backbone of economies
- Machine design: design autonomous farming machines.
- Farm layouts: design layouts to protect crops from weather elements and insects.
- Application engineer: update existing farms with the latest practices and tech.
- Irrigation advancements: usage of less water without a reduction in crop yields.
- Machine planters: fast speed high-scale precision planting.
- GPS and sensors: use of GPS receivers and sensors to maintain farms. Thus, farms automatically provided with water, fertilizer, and pesticide as required.
- Vertical farming: design of stacked crops in controlled environment agriculture. This increases food production to feed growing populations.
- Smart machines: machines work farms autonomously.
- Pollution control: reduce pollution without reduction of crop yields.
- Increase crop yields: use of robots, aerial imagery, sensors, and GPS.
- Artificial environments: fight climate change through larger agricultural buildings and storage facilities.
- Livestock data: improve livestock health through the collection of real-time data.
- Selective breeding: breed animals to withstand new environments.
- Manmade closed ecological systems: recycle all parts of crop ecosystems.
#3 Audio Engineering
I listen to a lot of music. But I rarely think of the sound production of the music. Who does?!
To that end, audio engineers handle the technical side of audio. For example, recording, mixing, and reproducing sound. They’re modern-day high-tech Mozart figures.
Now, think about a concert you went to. The sound was crisp. Even over tens of thousands of loudly cheering fans.
My point is, there’s much more to sound production than turning a nob to increase volume. Or simply hitting a “record” button.
- Movie audio design engineers: produce audio for big-budget movies.
- Video game audio: produce sound effects for video games.
- Live sound engineer: balance sounds at live events for performers and the audience.
- Studio sound engineer: master music for song albums.
- Wireless headsets: small wireless headsets that output amazing sound quality.
- Surround sound: surround sound in the comfort of your home.
- Microdevices: deliver high-resolution sound on micro-size devices.
- Music streaming: improve sound quality for music streaming.
- Talk technology: accurate voice recognition technology in cars.
- Wireless technology: improve the range and quality of wireless technology.
- Concert equipment: make audio systems lighter, smaller, and more powerful. Think of the big clunky music equipment at concerts.
- Video game audio: improve video games with livelier, more real-sounding audio.
- Bone conduction technology: listen to music through the bones of your skull.
- How we perceive sound: improve acoustics to offer better privacy. For example, sound dampening in office settings.
“Bio” in Greek means life. Thus, in bioengineering, you design and build around life.
I’ve always loved how movies show the merging of man and machine. Because it’s the natural evolutionary step for humans.
Now, bioengineers, also called biomedical engineers, may not build deadly cool looking terminators. But their work is transforming human life.
Think of prosthetics, medical devices, drug delivery, and so on. We now modify genes, heal faster, and allow double-leg amputees to walk.
Even more, next time you visit your doctor’s office, look around. Look at the equipment and study the medical protocols.
When I need medical treatment, I want the best Doctor. But I also want the best facility. You need both to get the best treatment these days.
In fact, you’ll get poor treatment without modern tech. What’s more, I believe engineering has attributed more to improved human health than doctors.
Bioengineering scope goes beyond the medical field
In bioengineering, you don’t only work with humans and the medical industry. But the work also crosses over to plants and even much smaller organisms too.
For example, think of the many foods you buy and eat. You may have come across a “GMO” label at the grocery store.
GMO, Genetically Modified Organism, are foods we modify. In other words, these are foods we can’t create through regular breeding, and they don’t exist in nature.
Rather, bioengineers create these foods using enzymes and living cells.
- Biomechanics engineer: design and develop products for the body. For example, artificial heart valves and joint replacements.
- Genetic engineering: correct gene defects.
- Medical imaging: design image devices to see inside the human body. For instance, your typical X-ray.
- Wearable tech: devices that become a part of the human body. Think of glucose monitors for type 1 diabetics. They monitor blood glucose in real-time.
- X-ray machines: x-rays usage standardized in hospitals.
- Nanotechnology: treat and eliminate diseases, disabilities, and illnesses at a micro-level.
- Robot surgeons: surgical procedure through robots.
- Tissue restoration: create artificial skin and cartilage. Imagine the number of prolonged athlete careers through better cartilage. For example, the body stress generated by Zion Williamson’s vertical jump.
- Body implants: implants that don’t require the consumption of hundreds of anti-rejection pills.
- Nanorobots: easily deliver drugs, heat, or other substances to specific areas in the body. A new approach to fighting diseases.
- Nanotechnology: use of DNA nanotechnology to fight viruses.
- 3D printing: print human organs with biomaterials.
- Prosthetics: develop advanced prosthetics for bionic humans.
- Brain-machine interface: upload data from machines to human brains. Also, vice versa.
- Genome editing: remove bad genes and add good genes.
- Robotic exoskeletons: help the ill and elderly with added strength. Also, to improve human performance in labor-intensive jobs.
- Medical imaging: improve visuals for greater accuracy in image-guided surgeries.
- Bionic humans: level up humans. Think of increasing the average human running speed.
#5 Chemical Engineering
Undoubtedly, synthetic materials rule the world. Just look at your car, TV, iPhone, basketball, and so on.
These product materials weren’t found underground. They’re lab-made.
More than likely, a chemical engineer spent countless months perfecting the material. Thus, engineering chemicals and chemical processes to create raw materials for different products.
Additionally, they improve existing materials. We can always make materials stronger, lighter, cheaper, and safer for the environment.
Every frustration you’ve ever had with a material becomes a future project. For example:
- Weak tool handles that easily break
- Phone screens that easily crack
- Kitchen gloves that can’t withstand much heat
By and large, chemical engineers manipulate what nature provides. In other words, they engineer molecular structures and reactions. Then they scale lab creations for manufacturing for the consumer world.
- Semiconductors: test and manufacture materials you find in computer chips and electronics.
- Food: alter the physical properties of foods. This includes color, smell, feel, and of course, taste.
- Oil refinery: make extracted oil usable in the real world.
- Biotech: develop new drugs for the healthcare field.
- Product material improvements: make products stronger, lighter, cheaper, and safer.
- Safe drinking water: design of efficient water treatment processes.
- Healthcare: penicillin, sunscreen, bioengineered tissue, eye lenses, and so on.
- Plastics: use of plastic in all industries to make better products.
- Fertilizers: provide crops with nutrients to flourish in all climates.
- Pesticides: protect plants from insects and small organisms.
- Fossil fuel refinement: fuel made usable for vehicles and machines.
- Computer chips: silicon made usable for semiconductor devices.
- Food: engineer new types of food.
- Pollution control: create recyclable products that don’t pollute in the manufacturing process.
- Improve battery technology: extend battery life and make batteries safer and lighter.
- Improve cell and tissue repair: new skin, cartilage, and other tissues for humans.
- Nanotechnology: improve nanotech to advance medicine, computers, and so on.
- Food: improve food processing to feed growing populations.
- Purifying water: scale water treatment to meet growing population demands.
- Renewing civic infrastructure: use high-strength compounds that can regenerate. For example, concrete that heals its own cracks.
- New fuel sources: make air and space travel cheaper and cleaner.
- Recycle nuclear fuel: convert bomb-grade uranium from missile warheads to low enriched uranium for nuclear plants.
- Fight climate change: improve green energy systems and rebuild damaged ecosystems.
#6 Civil Engineering
Look around when you drive through any city. You’ll see roads, bridges, tall buildings, subways, homes, stadiums, and so much more.
Civil engineers designed our modern-day cities. Also, cities from centuries ago.
This makes civil engineering one of the oldest fields of engineering. It dates to when people first shaped their environment to suit their needs.
Even more, without city infrastructure, the other types of engineering wouldn’t have existed. We need roofs over our heads, and roads to travel on before we can innovate.
Different Subfields of Civil Engineering
- Construction: manage construction to ensure compliance with designs and codes.
- Geotechnical: analyze earth materials, such as soils and rocks. This helps other engineers better design tunnels, mines, structural foundations, and so on.
- Structural: design foundations for structures.
- Transportation & Traffic: design highways, railways, airfields, and other transportation structures. Also, traffic lights require design.
- Water resources: improve freshwater quality and quantity. Think of water treatment and wastewater treatment plants.
In short, from all the types of engineering, civil engineering has the widest scope.
- Construction management: inspect and manage large engineering projects.
- Bridge engineer inspector: inspect existing bridges.
- Building demolition: use explosives to safely deconstruct structures.
- Airports: design and build new modern age airports.
- Infrastructure planning: plan new structures and layouts for cities.
- Burj Khalifa: the tallest building in the world stands 2,716.5 feet in Dubai. Took roughly 5 years and 22 million man-hours to build.
- English Channel Tunnel: a 31 mile plus undersea rail tunnel from England to France. At its lowest point, the tunnel is 250 feet below sea level.
- Golden Gate Bridge: the iconic burnt red bridge in San Francisco. It is an 8,981-foot-long 887,000-ton bridge with the ocean roaring underneath.
- Three Gorges Dam: the world’s largest power station, with a total capacity of 22,500 megawatts. This hydroelectric plant in China includes 32 main generates rated 700 megawatts each.
- Palm Islands: the world’s largest artificial island shaped like a palm tree in Dubai. This island required over 32 million cubic meters of sand.
- Great Pyramids of Giza: built before modern technology. It stands 455 feet tall and has near-perfect geometric dimensions.
- Future structures: build larger structures in heavily populated cities across the globe.
- Rehabilitate aging historic structures: upkeep old structures.
- Underground structures: design and construct underground in growing dense cities. For example, designing tunnels, subways, and compounds.
- Roads and highways: re-construct to accommodate self-driving cars.
- 3D printers: use of 3D printers to reduce costs and shorten build times in construction.
- Nanotechnology: use of nanotech to strengthen materials and soils to better maintain structures. For example, strengthening concrete with nano-iron.
- Virtual and augmented reality: virtually analyze conceptual designs before construction.
- Sustainable designs: build smart buildings with various sensors. This will reduce energy usage and protect the environment.
#7 Computer Engineering
Unquestionably, computer engineering advances at rapid speeds.
Your phone has 100,000 times more processing power than the 1969 Apollo 11 computer. The computer used to travel to the moon.
To point out, this rapid advancement benefits all types of engineering. Both in hardware and software.
Hardware engineering: design and develop computer components. For example, processors, memory devices, network devices, and circuit boards.
In addition, you ensure computer components work together. Also, you improve existing designs.
Software engineering: write computer software to make computers complete tasks and operations. To illustrate, we use software for such things as:
- Managing power grids
- Designing video games
- Controlling self-driving cars
- Controlling robots in assembly lines
- Guiding aircraft
- Running your favorite online application
- Computer architecture: design and develop computing systems.
- Robotics: work on advanced robotics to create a sci-fi reality.
- Virtual Reality (BR): improve VR graphics and gameplay to create lifelike digital worlds.
- Electronic devices: design electronics for all industries and types of engineering.
- Microsoft Windows: Windows operating systems allowed users to run graphical programs.
- Home computer: affordable home computers.
- Self-driving cars: cars drive semi-autonomously.
- Internet: the entire world digitally connected.
- Touch screen devices: touch screens integrated into many products.
- Scope of demand: all industries heavily rely on computers.
- Smaller and faster: make computers smaller and faster.
- Simplifying lives: simplify life through greater automation.
- Computer usage in engineering fields: apply computers to more types of engineering.
- Quantum computers: design powerful computers to solve complex problems.
- Augmented and virtual reality: improve hardware to create lifelike experiences for users. Both in the entertainment and working world.
- Nanosensors: use of nanosensors to collect data. For example, to better analyze buildings, plants, poles, and human bodies.
- Fully autonomous vehicles: vehicles that navigate streets without drivers.
#8 Electrical Engineering
I read about Nikola Tesla as a kid. His electricity experiments fascinated me.
Now today, we can’t live without electricity. Imagine your life without lights, smartphones, the internet, refrigerated foods, and power.
Sounds scary, right? Agreed!
To point out, electrical engineering includes many subfields today, such as:
- Communication: design systems and equipment to transmit data.
- Controls: make systems efficient and predictable. In other words, control logic ensures equipment operates optimally.
- Electronics: design and development of electronic components.
- Power: generate, transmit, and distribute power.
All things considered, I see a bright future for electrical engineering jobs. Even with automation, these subfields will all continue to thrive.
- Power grid: manage and work on power grids. To the surprise of many, the biggest machine on Earth is the U.S. power grid. A complex yet outdated electrical system.
- Signal processing: optimize signals for different use cases.
- Renewable energy sources: improve clean energy tech.
- Industrial automation: assist with the transition from human labor to machine automation.
- Electronics: design electronics for different use cases.
- Satellite communication: satellites that travel 7,000 miles/hour at a height of 22,000 miles above us.
- U.S. Power grid: the largest machine on Earth.
- Microprocessors: microprocessors make computers possible.
- Electric motors/generators: they’ve given us electric power and running water.
- Transformers: without transformers, power grids wouldn’t work.
- Improved power grid: update and repair aging power grids.
- Advanced robotics: industries will become more efficient. Human labor will be less necessary.
- Nanotechnology: solving problems at a micro-level.
- Smart grids: use of smart devices with power grids to save costs and improve management.
- Bulk energy storage: improve battery energy storage.
- Electric cars and planes: batteries replace fossil fuels in transportation vehicles.
- Engine efficiency: improve engine efficiency.
- Renewable energy: discover and design new renewable energy sources.
#9 Environmental Engineering
You’d think the smarter we become as a species, the more we’d protect our planet. But human greed makes us do crazy things.
For example, I hear so much negative talk towards environmentalists. I hear how they delay engineering projects and make projects more complex.
Yes, it’s true. BUT, engineers need boundaries.
Otherwise, even the noblest engineering project over time can destroy a region. This is then where environmental engineers come into play.
In brief, they help clean up the mess. They use engineering principles to create solutions to environmental problems. For example, managing waste disposal, public health, recycling, and pollution control.
- Air quality control: maintain air quality as populations grow.
- Water/wastewater: design dams, diversion structures, and sewer lines.
- Environmental remediation: maintain clean project sites during and after construction.
- Clean water supply: supply fresh water to millions of people across the globe.
- Manage pollution: manage air and water pollution.
- Waste management: recycle waste for re-use.
- Developing countries: extend environment protection practices to developing countries.
- Water treatment: less use of harsh chemicals to remove water contaminants. Yes, UV disinfection exists. But I’m talking about affordable large scale water treatment.
- Pollution control: adopt global pollution and waste management protocols.
- Sustainable communities: build sustainable self-sufficient communities.
- Renewable energy: manage the global transition to renewable energy.
#10 Geotechnical Engineering
Geotechnical engineers analyze the engineering implications of soils and rocks. They then pass their findings to different types of engineers for their designs.
For example, structural engineers need to know the soil type before building skyscrapers.
I also get soil information from geotechnical engineers. For the most part, I need this information for ground grids I design.
To point out, different soils have different resistivities. Specifically, the soil type affects how electricity travels through the ground. An unsafe ground grid can kill people.
In short, the work of geotechnical engineers dictates the direction of many designs.
- Concrete and asphalt: test concrete and asphalt in all types of engineering projects.
- Construction supervision: inspect subsurface conditions and manage construction.
- Soil inspection: inspect soil in exotic locations for brave new designs.
- Bridges: design of large and long bridges in harsh environments.
- Skyscrapers: design of tall skyscrapers in all environments.
- Coastal structures: design of structures near oceans.
- Exotic construction areas: survey land in exotic areas. Imagine construction in mountainous areas or sandy terrains on top of fault zones.
- New surveying techniques: increase data accuracy of surveyed land.
#11 Industrial Engineering
Generally, the more complex systems become, the more optimization they require.
Decades ago, a few people in a factory would screw on tires and glue on components and then call it a day. For the most part, very simple and straightforward work.
Today, factories include hundreds of workers and machines. In short, this requires huge coordination efforts.
To illustrate, think of a car manufacturing plant. Robots and humans seamlessly work together, resembling an in-sync symphony.
I find the assembly line just as amazing as the finished car.
Industrial engineers design these efficient processes. For example, they add and remove process steps to find how best to get from point A to B.
- Production supervisor: improve the production line of any product.
- Human efficiency: increased human efficiency through machines.
- Supply chains: efficient supply chains even in a globalized world.
- Moving assembly lines: at scale manufacturing for mass production.
- Advanced technology: optimize complex systems as technology advances.
- Green sustainable future: improve production to limit pollution and save energy.
- AI and robots: integrate AI and robots into all factories.
#12 Materials Engineering
Material engineers choose best-fit materials for products.
Given that, choose the wrong material and a plane will fall out of the sky.
With this in mind, don’t confuse a materials engineer with a chemical engineer. Yes, both types of engineers use a lot of chemistry.
But, a materials engineer focuses on the materials themselves. In other words, they work to understand why and how materials perform the way they do. Thereafter, they figure out which material would work best for a given application.
For example, material engineers work to find the best material for helicopter blades. They’d need to find an affordable lightweight yet strong and flexible material to use.
Improving existing products
Imagine we make a cheaper, lighter weight, and stronger material than aluminum. Material engineers would then recommend this material over aluminum for planes.
Planes would then save on fuel costs due to the reduced weight, and flights would become safer.
In short, we can always improve existing products with better materials. As well, bring new products to the market that before had material limitations.
- Metallurgy: study the physical and chemical behavior of different metals.
- Biomedical: study and find the best materials to use in the medical industry for tools.
- Product engineer: ensure manufacturing remains consistent in mass production.
- Commercialization of plastic: use of plastic in every industry.
- Computer chips: use of silicon in computer chips.
- Airplane wings: lightweight wings made from aerospace-grade aluminum. This allows cylinder-shaped objects filled with humans, to safely fly over oceans.
- Basketball: balls made from synthetic rubber and leather. These materials give a basketball the perfect bounce with an amazing grip.
- Biomedical devices: sturdy and safe materials for use inside the human body.
- Advance existing products: test new materials to improve existing products. For example, make planes safer and more fuel-efficient by using lighter and stronger metals.
- Advance technology: select materials for new use cases. Many times, existing materials become bottlenecks for new designs.
- Nanomaterials: use of nanomaterials to improve material specs. For example, making materials stronger, and lighter weight.
- Environment protection: greater use of environmentally friendly materials in products.
#13 Mechanical Engineering
No tech without mech. Undeniably, the ‘mother’ branch of engineering.
I hear this a lot from mechanical engineers in a semi-joking way.
They have a point though. Most tech wouldn’t work without mechanical engineers. To rephrase it, most everything has moving parts.
Plus, who’d disagree with Leonardo da Vinci who once said,
“The power of water has changed more in this world than emperors or kings”.
For example, hydraulic turbines convert energy from flowing water to electric power.
- Product design: design any products with moving parts.
- Nanotech: alter materials at the smallest levels. Use this technology in the food, energy, water, machine, and environment industries.
- Operate and test machines and mechanical systems: test machines and equipment. For example, cars, rockets, and large factory robots.
- Gas and steam turbine generators: commission and maintain gas and steam turbines.
- Renewable energy: design turbines for renewable sources. For example, wind and hydro.
- Space rockets and vehicles: design vehicles and equipment sent into space. For example, robotics, instruments, and propulsion systems.
- Airplanes & cars: design the moving parts of cars and planes.
- The wheel and axle: influenced humans more than any other invention in history.
- Windmills: replaced manpower and scaled production.
- Sailing ships: sails and oars opened oceans for exploration.
- Ferries & Cliffhouse Cable Railway Powerhouse: built-in 1887 in San Francisco. One of the most complicated cable railway systems of its time.
- Piston: marked the start of the industrial revolution with steam engine tech.
- Gears: important components of any rotating machine.
- Electrical motor: advanced modern tech to new heights.
- Robotics: all types of engineering will level up through robotics.
- Self-driving cars: design sensors, radars, and cameras on autonomous cars.
- Future spaceships and rockets: design of more efficient propulsion systems.
- Motors and generators: design of more efficient machines.
- Renewable energy: design of more efficient renewable power sources.
- Ocean power tech: harness the power of ocean tides to generate power. We’d need a uniquely designed turbine to withstand the great tidal forces.
#14 Ocean / Marine Engineering
Surprisingly, the oceans cover 71% of Earth and make up 97% of the water found on Earth.
Even more fascinating, 80% of oceans have gone unexplored. Yet, we still seek to travel to other planets.
Ironic, considering we haven’t explored a large part of Earth. This just shows how big and mysterious Earth still is.
To that end, ocean engineers work around oceans or any body of water. They combine their knowledge of water with other engineering fields. For example, electrical, civil, mechanical, acoustical, and chemical fields.
The difference is, the playing ground changes from dirt to sand and water. But the used science and math remain the same.
For example, ocean engineers design and build equipment for offshore and coastal areas. This equipment can then be used for coastal city construction or even oil rig work.
Also, they help scientists better explore and learn about our oceans. Without their work, we wouldn’t have been able to visit the Titanic 2.4 miles down in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Offshore oil industry: design, construct, and maintain oil industry equipment.
- Offshore wind farms: locate the best areas to install wind turbines.
- Operation and maintenance of sea vessels: handle operations onboard tugboats, oil tankers, or even large cruise ships.
- Oceanographic instruments: the invention of thousands of oceanographic devices.
- Underwater travel: the invention of vessels for scientists to travel deep in oceans.
- Discoveries: hydrothermal vents, ocean volcanoes, underwater mountain chains, and new ocean species.
- Underwater equipment: improved equipment for deeper ocean voyages.
- Water pollution: inventions to clean and protect bodies of water.
- Ocean learning: pursuit to preserve sea life will teach us how to live smarter.
- New inventions: make ocean mining safer and cleaner.
- Coastal structures: protect coastal structures as sea levels rise from climate change.
#15 Mining Engineering
Earth houses many amazing metals and minerals.
To that end, mining engineers work to remove these metals and minerals from inside Earth. They also typically specialize in the mining of only one type of metal or mineral.
This is because each material has unique challenges. Thus, only mastery allows for safe and profitable mining.
In this pursuit, mining engineers do the following types of work:
- Design and test machines
- Come up with mining techniques
- Brainstorm processes to efficiently remove materials
- Devise methods to store excavated soil
- Check for hazardous gases in mines
- Ensure drilling equipment operates properly
- Create and maintain evacuation routes inside mines
- Ensure surrounding mine environments remain intact and healthy
- Manage mines: ensure the safety of all workers, while efficiently removing materials.
- Exploration: search for mines in all corners of the globe.
- Tunneling: design safe tunnels as most materials lay hidden in mountains and underground.
- Frac sand method: use frack sand to open fractures to extract oil and gases from shale.
- Mine setup: skillful use of pumps to dewater pits. Also, the use of dynamite to replace black powder to precisely and safely break rocks.
- Monitoring equipment: use of geotech equipment to predict rockslides. This allows safe mine evacuations before catastrophes.
- Pollution control: create less waste at project sites. Also, prevent degradation of mined areas.
- Mine safety: use of rock bolt cable bolts to reinforce deep mines. This allows miners to safely go deeper into mines.
- Deeper mines: go deeper underground and farther into mountainsides.
- Imaging technology: use improved tech to locate and explore mines.
- Remote automated drilling: drill without humans in mines.
- Autonomous haulage systems: use of autonomous trucks to haul out mined material.
- Mining processes: improve the yield of extracted materials. In other words, better separate metals from rocks after extraction.
- Asteroid mining: gather resources from outer space.
#16 Nuclear Engineering
Unquestionably, nuclear power plants have received a bad rap over the years. Some of it I get. But, we can’t deny their positive impact.
For one thing, nuclear energy powers a lot of the world today. Equally important, without polluting by burning fossil fuels.
Even more, the tech is now much safer even with human error factored in.
A lot of this is due to the great work of nuclear engineers.
But, I don’t believe nuclear engineers will ever reach a safe enough design. I can’t see the fear surrounding nuclear energy subsiding anytime soon.
Regardless, nuclear engineers will continue working on nuclear energy and radiation. More specifically, on sub-atomic processes relating to fission and fusion.
- Nuclear fission produces atomic bombs and is used in nuclear power reactors
- Nuclear fusion powers the Sun
Pursuing fusion energy
In short, the development of fusion power is the holy grail of power generation.
Fusion power is the best limitless clean energy we could ever harness. Without a doubt, it would forever change human life.
Even more, fusion power may become our ticket to traveling into deep space.
- Nuclear power plants: manage nuclear power plants.
- Reactor fuel/core design: ensure the safety of nuclear fuel. Also, make the power generation process more efficient.
- Nuclear submarines: design smaller, lighter, more efficient, and safer reactors for submarines.
- National labs: research nuclear power.
- Accident analysis: do accident analysis on reactors, with different failure case scenarios.
- Self-sustaining nuclear reactions: allows nuclear power plants to safely power cities. Also, allows submarines to stay underwater for up to 4 months.
- Nuclear-powered submarine: the U.S. built the first nuclear sub in 1955.
- Global nuclear reactors: 430 nuclear reactors provide 13% of the world’s electricity.
- America’s clean energy: nuclear power generates 55% of America’s clean energy.
- Fusion reactors: design and development of nuclear fusion reactors.
- Modular reactors: power remote isolated areas.
- Safety factor: increase the safety of existing nuclear reactors. Design improved safety mechanics without human supervision required.
- Transportation: use nuclear reactors in vehicles outside of submarines and aircraft carriers.
- Waste treatment: improve waste treatment protocols. Also, find safe use cases for radioactive waste.
#17 Petroleum Engineering
Petroleum engineering no longer stands tall as that hot profession. To put it differently, at one time, black gold, fossil fuel, made the world go around.
At the present time, it has taken a back seat to renewable energy. Without a doubt, we’re less and less tolerating pollution.
Climate change is now on everyone’s radar. But I can’t imagine fossil fuel demand ever completely going away.
Because fossil fuel just has such a high net energy yield. This makes it ideal for many applications still.
At any rate, petroleum engineers work with hydrocarbon production. For example, working with crude oil or natural gas.
Specifically, finding and safely extracting oil and gas from below the Earth’s surface.
- Reservoir engineer: evaluate reservoirs for content and extraction methods.
- Production engineer: determine how best to drill into reservoirs effectively and safely. Then seal the reservoirs after drilling to avoid leakage.
- Pollution control: drill and extract resources successfully with limited pollution.
- Locating resources underground: pinpoint oil and gas reservoir locations around the globe.
- Ocean drilling: drill over a mile below the ocean surface.
- Deep drilling: drill deeper into Earth for oil and gas.
- Clean drilling: reduce drill costs and pollution.
- New industry: transfer the tech and processes from petroleum engineering to new industries.
#18 Software Engineering
Undeniably, software giants rule the world today. Think of life without Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Netflix.
Yes, life would be very different.
Even more, every industry and all types of engineering depend on software today.
To that end, software engineers write software. A set of instructions telling computers what to do and how to perform tasks.
Generally, software automates groups of steps we already do as humans. Thus, it makes processes more efficient.
Also, software goes beyond applications you directly use. For example, a lot of software runs in the background of your computer, making it simply work.
To illustrate, think of Microsoft Windows Operating System. Windows 10 includes roughly 50 million lines of code.
- Artificial intelligence (AI): build the future with software that learns better than humans.
- Blockchain developer: develop blockchain systems and protocols.
- Software security: improve software security for industries.
- Software affecting and bettering every industry: the modernization of every industry through software.
- Microsoft Windows: software made computers accessible to everyone.
- AlphaGo: a computer program that plays the complex board game ‘Go’. The program defeated a pro-human Go player in 2015.
- Self-driving cars: semi-autonomous cars on roads.
- Advancing artificial intelligence (AI): drip-feed AI into all industries.
- Advancing augmented reality (AR): simplify work through AR. Imagine assembling an IKEA desk with the help of AR.
- Advancing virtual reality: build lifelike digital environments.
- Internet of Things (IoT): imagine refrigerators order food before they run out, and doors recognize you and unlock.
- Blockchain: greater widespread usage, and adoption by governments.
- Global software adoption: software applications made accessible to all people across the globe.
- Visual programming: software development made more visual. This will make computer programming accessible to a wider audience.
Wrap up Over the 18 Types of Engineering
Summing up, I hope you learned something about these amazing types of engineering. Also, you gained a better understanding of how to be an engineer.
Today, all these types of engineering work together as one. They’ve shaped the world we live in today, both directly and indirectly.
Now, whether you want to start a career in engineering, or you simply have a deep interest, you have many options.
And yes, the task of becoming an engineer may seem daunting at first. For example, I even had to overcome imposter syndrome in engineering. But, my passion won out in the end.
In short, no matter your interest, many types of engineering exist to choose from.
Which types of engineering most interest you? Which of the types of engineering do you think will advance the most in the next 100 years? Also, do you envision any new types of engineering in the future?
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Author Bio: Koosha started Engineer Calcs in 2019 to help people better understand the engineering and construction industry, and to discuss various science and engineering-related topics to make people think. He has been working in the engineering and tech industry in California for well over 15 years now and is a licensed professional electrical engineer, and also has various entrepreneurial pursuits.
Koosha has an extensive background in the design and specification of electrical systems with areas of expertise including power generation, transmission, distribution, instrumentation and controls, and water distribution and pumping as well as alternative energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and storage).
Koosha is most interested in engineering innovations, the cosmos, sports, fitness, and our history and future.