Based on the number of Master’s degrees awarded annually, the engineering majors offered at U.S. colleges and universities can be roughly divided into one of four size-based categories:
The most popular of these specializations have been described below for your reference:
1. Aeronautical / Aerospace Engineering– Aeronautical/aerospace engineers design and develop technology for commercial aviation, national defense and space exploration. They may help design and manufacture military aircraft, missiles, helicopters, and spacecraft.
Within this field, they may specialize in the structure of the aircraft, aerodynamics, guidance and control, propulsion and design, manufacturing, or a certain type of aircraft. Commercial airliners, military aircraft, space shuttles, satellites, rockets, and helicopters are all within reach for talented aeronautical engineers, who may also be referred to as astronautical, aviation or rocket engineers.
2. Agricultural and Biological Engineering– Biological and agricultural engineering, two closely integrated disciplines often called biological systems (biosystems), bioresources, or natural resources engineering, are concerned with finding solutions for life on a small planet.
Our swelling world population places great demands on our limited natural resources, and biological and agricultural engineers work to ensure that we have the necessities of life: safe and plentiful food to eat, pure water to drink, clean fuel and energy sources, and a safe, healthy environment.
3. Architectural Engineering– Architectural engineers apply engineering principles to the design and technical systems of buildings – mainly their structural, mechanical, plumbing and lighting/electrical design. Engineers need to be aesthetic as well as technical, creative as well as practical. They need to know if what looks good on paper is also technically possible.
4. Biomedical Engineering– The objective of biomedical engineering is to enhance health care by solving complex medical problems using engineering principles. Those who specialize in this field want to serve the public, work with health care professionals, and interact with living systems. This broad field allows a large choice of sub-specialties.
Many students say they choose biomedical engineering because it is people-oriented. The field includes many branches: biomechanical, bioelectrical, biochemical, rehabilitation, clinical, and genetic engineering. There are also many sub-specialties within biomedical engineering such as surgical lasers, telemedicine, nuclear medicine, and clinical computer systems.
5. Chemical Engineering– Everything that our senses enjoy consists of chemicals in one way or another. Chemical engineers have worked on creating the purple rose that has no thorns, the caramel on a caramel apple, and even your tennis shoes. The chemical engineering profession has improved water and waste systems, created new drugs and drug delivery systems, and improved the crop yields for farmers.
Most chemical engineers work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, design and construction, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, microelectronics, electronic and advanced materials, polymers, business services, biotechnology, and the environmental health and safety industries.
6. Civil Engineering– Traditionally, civil engineers planned and designed such things as roads, bridges, high-rises, dams, and airports. Because of population growth and a booming economy, however, the civil engineer now also designs new things such as underwater tunnels, new and better wastewater treatment plants, solutions for highway congestion, and special tracks for the magnetic levitation trains of the future.
7. Computer Engineering– Computer engineering deals with the many aspects of computer systems. These engineers may design computer systems, networks, operating systems, or software. They may design the future automobile dashboard computers that will monitor engine functions.
Engineers in this field design computer chips, circuits, equipment, and systems; plan computer layouts; and formulate mathematical models to solve technical problems on computer. They design, develop, and test computer hardware and peripheral equipment. They also design, develop, and maintain software programs and software systems.
8. Electrical Engineering– The developments of electrical and electronic engineers are everywhere. There are thousands of electrical devices and systems available today that electrical engineers have somehow touched.
Anything you plug into the wall – stereos, computers, microwaves, televisions, power tools, air-conditioners, and major appliances – has been touched by an electrical engineer. Even things you can’t plug into the wall – satellites, cellular phones, and beepers – have been designed, manufactured, or modified by electrical engineers. Electrical engineers also work in areas that generate, transmit, and distribute electrical power to consumers.
9. Environmental Engineering– Environmental engineering focuses on the development of a sustainable future, preventing pollution, assessing the environmental impact of everything, water distribution systems, recycling methods, sewage treatment plants, and pesticide prevention.
This fast-growing field offers a challenging and satisfying chance to protect the health and safety of people and our environment. These earth-friendly professionals concern themselves with preventing and fixing problems caused by industrialization. They concentrate on delivering better environmental conditions for the public through knowledge, research, a caring attitude, and common sense.
10. Heating, Ventilating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineering– Heating, ventilating, refrigeration, and air-conditioning (HVR&AC) engineers have dramatically improved our lives. HVR&AC engineers develop systems to create and maintain safe and comfortable environments. Airplanes, trains, schools, cars, and computer rooms are only a handful of the environments that depend on HVR&AC engineers.
11. Industrial Engineering– Industrial engineers figure out how to improve everything. They work with people to help them do things better.
Industrial engineers save employers money by streamlining systems, often making the workplace better for employees too. They improve productivity and quality while saving time and money. Industrial engineers work on all type of businesses. They see the big picture and focus on what makes a system perform efficiently, safely, and effectively to produce the highest quality.
12. Manufacturing Engineering– Just as the mechanical engineer designs parts, the manufacturing engineer designs the processes that make them. Wherever there’s a production process to be designed and managed, you’ll find manufacturing engineers at work.
They work with plant managers, production supervisors, CNC programmers, quality managers, product designers, and R&D staff on issues ranging from evaluating new technology and choosing equipment and suppliers to leading industry-wide standards development to reorganizing a plant into a more efficient production system.
13. Materials Engineering– Materials engineers design, fabricate, and test materials. They may work to make automobiles lighter and more fuel efficient by creating stronger and lighter metals. They may help to create artificial knees and elbows using special polymers, or they may design new materials for the space ship. A materials engineer can work with any type of material – plastic, wood, ceramic, petroleum or metals –and create completely new synthetic products by rearranging molecular structure.
14. Mechanical Engineering– Mechanical engineers is one of the broadest and most diverse disciplines. Mechanical engineers design, develop, and manufacture every kind of vehicle, power system, machine, and tool: jet engines, steam engines, power plants, underwater structures, tractors for food production, hydraulic systems, transportation systems, medical devices, sports equipment, smart materials, materials and structures for space travel, measurement devices, and more. Any type of machine that produces, transmits, or uses power is most likely the product of a mechanical engineer.
15. Metallurgical Engineering– Metallurgical engineers turn raw materials into useful products. Metallurgical engineering includes processing mineral and chemical resources into metallic, ceramic or polymeric materials; creating new high strength or high performance materials; or developing new ways to refine and process materials for new consumer applications.
16. Nuclear Engineering– Nuclear engineering falls into three major areas of benefit to mankind: nuclear medicine, agricultural uses and pest control, and nuclear energy. Nuclear engineers search for efficient and beneficial ways to use the power generated from splitting an atom, and they research peaceful ways to use nuclear energy and radiation.
17. Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering, and Ocean Engineering– Naval architecture, marine engineering, and ocean engineering are professions that integrate disciplines such as materials science and mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering. These engineers and architects design, build, operate, and maintain ships such as aircraft carriers, submarines, tankers, tugboats, sailboats, and yachts. They also develop underwater structures, underwater robots, and oil rigs.
They develop transportation systems, plan new uses for waterways, design deep-water ports, and integrate the land and water transportation systems and methods. They are concerned with discovering, producing, and transporting offshore petroleum as sources of energy and developing new ways to protect marine wildlife and beaches against the unwanted consequences of offshore oil production.
18. Software Engineering– Software engineering is on the cutting edge of technology. Software enables us to use computers. It is the translator between humans and computers. Without software, a computer would be nothing but ones and zeros.
The current demand for software engineers far exceeds the supply. The largest employers of software engineers include familiar names such as Microsoft, Motorola, Autodesk, Netscape, Adobe, Symantec, Nintendo, and Corel. However, there are thousands of software manufacturers that hire software engineers.
19. Structural Engineering– Structural engineering focuses not only on the design and development of structures, such as houses, coliseums, bridges, and shopping malls, but on the design and development of materials that will create these structures. The structural engineering profession offers exciting challenges and potential for growth.
Each day brings new and more sophisticated materials that will change the shape and the future of structures. Structural engineers must be creative and resourceful. They must visualize the framework of a structure and determine what forces will produce what loads upon it. Many structural engineers in California design buildings that are able to sustain ground-shaking (earthquake) loads.
20. Transportation Engineering– Transportation engineering is a branch of civil engineering that aims to allow people and goods to move safely, rapidly, conveniently, and efficiently. Transportation engineers design streets, highways, and public transportation systems. They design parking lots and traffic flow patterns that will prevent major congestion at busy intersections, shopping malls, and sporting events. They are involved in planning and designing airports, railroads, and busy pedestrian thoroughfares.