Have you ever been curious about how spacecrafts work? Do you sometimes look at a machine or device and wonder what makes it tick? For people who are inherently curious about the world around them and who feel driven to solve real-world problems, a career in engineering can be the perfect fit! The answer to the question, “What is an engineering degree?” is that it’s a course of study designed to introduce students to the components, processes and systems that make systems work. Students can then use this solid framework of knowledge to design new machines or structures, or improve upon existing ones.
What Exactly Is Engineering?
The simplest definition of engineering is that it involves solving real-world problems. To accomplish this, engineers apply the principles of mathematics and physical or life sciences. Engineering is an exciting and continually evolving field that presents a world of possibilities for those who are curious about how things work.
Engineers are responsible for designing everything from the International Space Station to prosthetic limbs to airports. Early engineers built the many wonders of the ancient world, including the Great Wall of China, the Parthenon and the Pyramids of Giza. In short, engineering represents the potential to build something new that can change the world and improve people’s lives.
Why Should You Consider Earning an Engineering Degree?
There are many great reasons to earn an engineering degree. Since engineers have a hand in the development of so much technology in use today, it’s unlikely that the demand for engineers will ever go away. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates steady growth in the demand for engineers in the coming years. From 2016 through 2026, it’s expected that the U.S. alone will add almost 140,000 new engineering jobs. Here’s a look at the breakdown of the most in-demand engineering specialties, with the projected number of jobs to be added through 2026:
- Mechanical engineers: 25,300
- Industrial engineers: 25,100
- Electrical engineers: 16,200
- Computer engineering: 64,400
Engineering can also be a lucrative occupation. In 2016, the median wage for engineers was over twice the median wage for all other workers. In addition, STEM graduates tend to command a higher starting salary than non-STEM graduates.
Of course, there are lots of other great reasons to consider earning an engineering degree. Some engineers chose the field because they like being able to exercise their creativity in the workplace. Solving problems often requires out-of-the-box thinking. Other professionals chose engineering because they have the opportunity to develop innovations that affect people’s lives on a daily basis. Engineers can help solve water infrastructure problems, ensuring that communities have enough clean drinking water, for example. As an engineer, you can take pride in what you’ve accomplished.
What are the Available Specializations in Engineering?
There are many engineering specialties and subspecialties that students can explore. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
- Mechanical engineering: Mechanical engineers work on the design, development and improvement of machines and tools, often for use in manufacturing and other industrial applications
- Electrical engineering: Electrical engineers design new electrical systems and equipment
- Biomedical engineering: Biomedical engineers design biomedical equipment, ranging from prosthetic limbs to artificial internal organs
- Robotics engineering: Robotics engineers develop robots and robotic systems, such as the Mars rovers and robotic surgical platforms
Within those broad categories, there are also subspecialties. After graduation, aspiring civil engineers may decide to focus their career on a subspecialty like geotechnical, structural, water resources or transportation engineering.
Where do Engineers Work?
Engineers typically work in an office setting, although many make frequent trips out to the field to test their equipment and assess its function. Engineers can work for any type of entity, including private companies, nonprofits, governmental agencies and government contractors. Engineers can also work in virtually any industry, ranging from aerospace to transportation to manufacturing to pharmaceuticals. Because there is a demand for engineers across many industries, these professionals can pursue job opportunities in locations around the globe.
Which Skills and Traits are Important for Aspiring Engineers?
Successful engineers are typically individuals who are intensely curious about how the world around them works. They are the type of people who would take apart a toy and put it back together again, just to see how it worked. Effective engineers are also strong critical thinkers who are capable of evaluating both the small details and the larger picture. In the workplace, it’s essential for engineers to be clear communicators and team-minded collaborators.
Grand Canyon University offers rigorous STEM degree programs to students who are interested in pursuing a 21st century career after graduation. You can earn your Bachelor of Science in Engineering or choose from numerous specializations, including degrees in biomedical, mechanical or electrical engineering. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to learn more about joining our Christian learning community in Arizona.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.