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Engineering Branches

List of Engineering Disciplines


An engineer may perform tests on mechanical equipment.

Can you tell what type of engineer this is? Mechanical, structural, civil, chemical or petroleum engineering all are possible options.

Lester Lefkowitz, Getty Images
Engineers apply scientific principles to design or develop structures, equipment, or processes. Engineering encompasses several disciplines. Traditionally, the main branches of engineering are chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering, but there are many other areas of specialization. Here is a summary of the main branches of engineering:
  • Acoustical Engineering
    Engineering concerned with the analysis and control of vibration, particularly sound vibrations.

  • Aerospace Engineering
    Aerospace engineering deals with aeronautics and astronautic engineering, including the design and analysis of aircraft, satellites and spacecraft.

  • Agricultural Engineering
    This branch of engineering deals with farm machinery and structures, natural resources, bioenergy and farm power systems. Sub-disciplines include food engineering, aquaculture and bioprocess engineering.

  • Automotive Engineering
    Automotive engineers are involved in the design, manufacture and performance of cars and trucks.

  • Biological Engineering
    Biological engineering is applied biology and medicine. It includes biomedical engineering, biochemical engineering, protein engineering, genetic engineering and tissue engineering.

  • Biomedical Engineering
    Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary specialty that applies engineering principles to medical and biological problems and systems. This discipline commonly deals with medical therapies, monitoring devices and diagnostic tools.

  • Chemical Engineering
    Chemical engineering (CE) applies chemistry to develop new materials and processes to convert materials into useful products.

  • Civil Engineering
    Civil engineering (CE) is one of the oldest forms of engineering. Civil engineering pertains to the discipline pertaining to the design, construction, analysis and maintenance of structures, both natural and man-made, including bridge, roads, dams and buildings. Sub-disciplines of civil engineering may include construction engineering, materials engineering, control engineering, structural engineering, urban engineering, municipal engineering, biomechanics and surveying.

  • Computer Engineering
    Computer engineering integrates computer science with electrical engineering to develop and analyze circuits, microprocessors and computers. Computer engineers tend to focus more on hardware while software engineers traditionally focus on programming and software design.

  • Electrical Engineering
    Electrical engineering (EE) involves the study and application of electricity and electronics. Some consider computer engineering and software engineering to be subdisciplines of electrical engineering. Electronic engineering, optical engineering, power engineering, control engineering and telecommunications engineering are EE specialities.

  • Energy Engineering
    Energy engineering is a multidisciplinary engineering field that integrates aspects of mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering to address alternative energy, energy efficiency, plant engineering, environmental compliance and related technologies.

  • Engineering Management
    Engineering management combines engineering and management principles to develop and assess business practices. These engineers help plan and administrate businesses from their inception through operation. They are involved in product development, design engineering, construction, manufacturing, and marketing.

  • Environmental Engineering
    Environmental engineering works to prevent or remediate pollution or to maintain or improve the natural environment. This includes water, land and air resources. Related disciplines are industrial hygiene and environmental engineering law.

  • Industrial Engineering
    Industrial engineering pertains to the design and study of logistics and industrial resources. Types of industrial engineering include safety engineering, construction engineering, manufacturing engineering, textile engineering, reliability engineering, component engineering and systems engineering.

  • Manufacturing Engineering
    Manufacturing engineering designs, studies and develops machines, tool, manufacturing processes and equipment.

  • Mechanical Engineering
    Mechanical engineering (ME) may be considered the mother of all engineering branches. Mechanical engineering applies physical principles and materials science to the design, manufacture and analysis of mechanical systems.

  • Mechatronics
    Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, frequently in the analysis of automated systems. Robotics, avionics and instrumentation engineering may be considered types of mechatronics.

  • Nanoengineering
    Nanoengineering is the application of engineering on the vastly miniaturized or nanoscopic scale.

  • Nuclear Engineering
    Nuclear engineering is the practical application of nuclear processes, such as those used to produce and harness nuclear power.

  • Petroleum Engineering
    Petroleum engineers apply scientific principles to detect, drill and extract crude oil and natural gas. Types of petroleum engineering includes drilling engineering, reservoir engineering, and production engineering.

  • Structural Engineering
    Structural engineering pertains to the design and analysis of load-bearing structures and supports. In many cases this is a subdiscipline of civil engineering, but structural engineering also applies to other structures, such as vehicles and machinery.

  • Vehicle Engineering
    Engineering pertaining to design, manufacture and operation of vehicles and their components. Branches of vehicle engineering include naval architecture, automotive engineering and aerospace engineering.

There are many more engineering branches, with more being developed all the time as new technologies develop. Many undergraduates start out seeking degrees in mechanical, chemical, civil or electrical engineering and develop specializations through internships, employment and advanced education.

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