The word ‘engineering’ might conjure up images of complex machinery, inventions and robots or large structures like bridges, tunnels and dams.
Yet, at its core, engineering is problem-solving. Engineers fix, improve or create all kinds of tools, technologies and structures to overcome a challenge or do a job more efficiently. In many ways, engineering is the ultimate test of ingenuity.
Engineers use scientific and mathematical principles to create smart solutions to different technical problems — anything from inventing a new form of recyclable packaging to designing a megastructure like a space station.
And as we live in a time of rapid social and technological change, there’s a greater need than ever for engineers. So what are the best courses to study if you’re interested in this subject?
Branches of engineering
Branches of study for engineering
There’s no set course in high school to become an engineer, but there are at least five subjects you might study to put you on the right track.
Mathematics is essential to engineering. It’s key to logic and reasoning, and teaches principles of geometry and trigonometry that are vital to creating devices, machines and structures.
Design and technology
Studying D&T is vital to thinking like an engineer, because it helps you develop problem-solving skills in research, planning, designing and creating all kinds of products and solutions.
PhysicsPhysics is important to engineering because it helps you understand materials and forces that are vital to building structures. It also teaches principles of energy, electricity and magnetism, and laws that govern the physical universe.
Chemistry helps you understand how chemical reactions work and combines with engineering. Chemical engineers use their knowledge of chemistry (as well as physics) to solve problems in producing chemicals, drugs, food, energy and more.
Biology is a broad natural science that studies living things. Reflecting the sheer complexity of life, biology has many different fields, from biochemistry and its study of atoms and molecules, to ecology and its study of the planet’s millions of organisms.
Why study engineering?
If you love problem-solving — using logic, reason and decision-making to improve ideas and invent new things — engineering is a career to consider.
Engineers are in high demand and needed in every country around the world. You can work on projects for all kinds of different needs — for example, engineering solutions that give better access to energy, transport, medicine, food and water.
And because engineering combines scientific skills and knowledge with creative thinking, it trains you to generate new ideas and better ways to do things.
What are engineering skills and how are they useful?
Engineering has many different branches, but there are key skills you’ll learn, develop and use in lots of different careers.
Engineering is problem-solving, so it’s no surprise to discover that the ability to generate ideas and solutions is vital. Engineering trains you to combine scientific knowledge with creative thinking.
Solving problems takes creativity. Being able to think freely, brainstorm ideas and experiment with solutions is fundamental to all types of engineering — and every scientific and technology field.
In most engineering projects (at school and work), you’ll collaborate in a group. Teamworking and communication skills are essential to help discuss, share, test and build successful solutions.
As an engineer, you’ll solve open-ended problems that don’t have a single correct answer. You’ll develop critical thinking skills that use your training and experience to evaluate the best solution, based on constraints like time, money and materials.
What careers can you explore through engineering?
If you enjoy studying sciences, and want to use your creative skills to improve the world and solve problems, engineering offers countless opportunities across many different industries.
This is just an overview of the types of engineering you can explore. Remember that engineering offers many opportunities, with many subfields and branches. Study engineering and a whole world opens up for you.