Engineering - Main Branches of Engineering

Main Branches of Engineering

Engineering, much like other science, is a broad discipline which is often broken down into several sub-disciplines. These disciplines concern themselves with differing areas of engineering work. Although initially an engineer will usually be trained in a specific discipline, throughout an engineer's career the engineer may become multi-disciplined, having worked in several of the outlined areas. Engineering is often characterized as having four main branches:

  • Chemical engineering – The application of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering principles in order to carry out chemical processes on a commercial scale.
  • Civil engineering – The design and construction of public and private works, such as infrastructure (airports, roads, railways, water supply and treatment etc.), bridges, dams, and buildings.
  • Electrical engineering – The design and study of various electrical and electronic systems, such as electrical circuits, generators, motors, electromagnetic/electromechanical devices, electronic devices, electronic circuits, optical fibers, optoelectronic devices, computer systems, telecommunications, instrumentation, controls, and electronics.
  • Mechanical engineering – The design of physical or mechanical systems, such as power and energy systems, aerospace/aircraft products, weapon systems, transportation products engines, compressors, powertrains, kinematic chains, vacuum technology, and vibration isolation equipment.

Beyond these four, sources vary on other main branches. Historically, naval engineering and mining engineering were major branches. Modern fields sometimes included as major branches include aerospace, petroleum, systems, audio, software, architectural, biosystems, biomedical, industrial, materials, and nuclear engineering.

New specialties sometimes combine with the traditional fields and form new branches - for example Earth Systems Engineering and Management involves a wide range of subject areas including anthropology, engineering, environmental science, ethics and philosophy. A new or emerging area of application will commonly be defined temporarily as a permutation or subset of existing disciplines; there is often gray area as to when a given sub-field becomes large and/or prominent enough to warrant classification as a new "branch." One key indicator of such emergence is when major universities start establishing departments and programs in the new field.

For each of these fields there exists considerable overlap, especially in the areas of the application of sciences to their disciplines such as physics, chemistry and mathematics.

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Famous quotes containing the words engineering, main and/or branches:

    Mining today is an affair of mathematics, of finance, of the latest in engineering skill. Cautious men behind polished desks in San Francisco figure out in advance the amount of metal to a cubic yard, the number of yards washed a day, the cost of each operation. They have no need of grubstakes.
    Merle Colby, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)

    Yours of the 24th, asking “the best mode of obtaining a thorough knowledge of the law” is received. The mode is very simple, though laborious, and tedious. It is only to get the books, and read, and study them carefully.... Work, work, work, is the main thing.
    Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)

    There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)