Engineers apply scientific and mathematic theories to design and implement solutions to real-world problems. They work in a variety of fields and may specialize in addressing problems related to areas like the environment, medicine, technology and architecture. If you’re considering pursuing a career in engineering, learning about the specialties and related majors may help you decide which is the right one for you to choose.
In this article, we provide a list of common engineering majors and discuss what each of them may entail.
15 engineering majors you can pursue
Some engineering majors to consider include:
1. Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering relates to assessing and determining the aerodynamic properties of vehicles and other items that fly. These engineers primarily focus on aircraft and related items that go outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. For example, they may research, design, build, develop and test missiles, satellites or spacecraft.
2. Agricultural engineering
Agricultural engineering focuses on how to apply engineering techniques to all aspects of the agricultural industry. For example, these engineers may work on soil conservation, harvesting techniques, large-scale farming of livestock and foods and waste and water issues. Others may focus on developing new farm equipment to improve efficiency.
3. Audio engineering
Audio engineering is a more creative field of engineering. These engineers set up and operate technical equipment to record sounds, then engineer, mix and balance the sounds to create final projects. They commonly work in the entertainment industry, particularly to create music, develop sound effects or record and edit podcasts.
4. Biomedical engineering
Biomedical engineering combines elements of medical and biology. These engineers primarily look for ways to improve health care, specifically through diagnostic methods and treatment options. For example, they may research and develop pharmaceuticals, diagnostic imaging equipment, regenerative tissues, micro-implants or high-tech prosthesis.
5. Chemical engineering
Chemical engineering largely relates to the practical application of chemistry. These engineers may also use principles from biology, math and physics and chemical reactions to solve problems. They work in a variety of industries to create new products such as beverages, cleaners, cosmetics, foods and pharmaceuticals.
6. Civil engineering
Civil engineering focuses on designing, maintaining and repairing infrastructures. This includes private and public projects for constructing structures like bridges, buildings, railways and roads. Many of these engineers focus on sustainability and developing eco-friendly structures.
7. Computer engineering
Computer engineering relates to designing computer system components. It involves the application of computer science and electrical engineering principles. These engineers design the platforms and hardware that computer scientists and software engineers use for their work.
8. Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering includes the study of electricity and energy. This may include developing products that use electricity, such as cars, cell phones, game systems, medical technology products and navigation systems. It also relates to developing technologies that assist with the practical application of electrical, hydro, solar and wind energies.
9. Electronics engineering
Electronics engineering is similar to electrical engineering in that it focuses on the study and application of electricity. However, these engineers focus on designing and building electronic equipment, and they typically work on devices with smaller electronic circuits. This includes switchboards, power generation sources and robotic systems.
10. Industrial engineering
Industrial engineering combines engineering with business principles. These engineers design systems and facilities that combine machines, workers and tasks more efficiently. Businesses often hire them to improve productivity and reduce costs.
11. Mechanical engineering
Mechanical engineering involves using principles from physics and math to develop mechanical systems and motion devices. It primarily focuses on mechanical and thermal systems and requires the use of kinematics, materials science, structural analysis and thermodynamics. These engineers may work in industries like aeronautics, heating and cooling, manufacturing, nanotechnology and nuclear power production.
12. Nuclear engineering
Nuclear engineering focuses on developing effective uses for nuclear power. These engineers largely work within the medical field to develop devices that use nuclear energy, such as medical imaging devices. Other nuclear engineers may work for consulting firms, government agencies and power plants, particularly working on designing, implementing and maintaining nuclear power plants.
13. Petroleum engineering
Petroleum engineering requires an understanding of gas, oil and water, particularly as related to producing hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are products of natural gas and crude oil. These engineers primarily focus on extracting oil and gas, and they may also develop new techniques for more affordable and environmentally-friendly extractions.
14. Software engineering
Software engineering is a technology-focused sector of engineering. These engineers design software programs that affect how the systems function and how they operate within specific hardware environments. This requires the application of computer science and engineering principles.
15. Structural engineering
Structural engineering is a specialized branch of civil engineering. These engineers design structures, such as art museums, commercial buildings, houses and stores. It’s essential for them to have a strong understanding of buildings and the natural impact the environment may have on them through the effects of corrosion, erosion, water and wind.
37 more engineering majors to pursue
When choosing an engineering major, some other degrees you may want to consider include:
Engineering and public policy
Fire protection and safety engineering
Health and safety engineering
Materials science engineering
Mining and geological engineering
Operations and research engineering