What is Engineering? A guide to chemical, industrial and mechanical engineering

So you want to be an engineer? You must be a problem solving sort of person because that’s the crux that drives the engineering world: a desire, a spark, an inquisitiveness to want to crack a problem and apply logic to create a solution for everyday applications. If that’s you fair reader, then read on.

What is engineering?

Engineers at work

Engineering is essentially about problem solving. It is “the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to design, build, maintain, and improve structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes,” according to Wikipedia.

Beneath that overarching engineering umbrella, there’s a broad range of specialized engineering disciplines to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major strands to consider, when planning your career.

A guide to Chemical Engineering

According to the Institution of Chemical Engineers, on their whynotechemeng.com website: “Chemical engineering is all about changing raw materials into useful products you use everyday in a safe and cost effective way. Chemical engineers understand how to alter the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance, to create everything from face creams to fuels.”

Chemical Engineering degrees are well respected within the industry and the raft of transferrable skills at your disposal, means that graduates can expect good job prospects and relatively speedy career progression to positions of responsibility.

Watch: what is it like to be a chemical engineer?

Read: what is it like being a chemical engineer at Sellafield?

A guide to Industrial Engineering

The Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) will tell you that “Industrial Engineers figure out how to do things better. They engineer processes and systems that improve quality and productivity. They work to eliminate waste of time, money, materials, energy and other commodities. This is why many industrial engineers end up being promoted into management positions.”

With a specific emphasis on boosting quality and productivity, not to mention streamlining waste, Industrial Engineering professionals are in growing demand and can often find themselves thrust into managerial roles for their highly desirable skills and attributes.

Watch: what is it like to be an industrial engineer?

Read: different profiles of industrial engineers across the industry.

A guide to Mechanical Engineering

In the words of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME): “Mechanical Engineers create and develop mechanical systems for all of humankind. Concerned with the principles of force, energy and motion, mechanical engineers use their knowledge of design, manufacture, and operational processes to advance the world around us - enhancing safety, economic vitality and enjoyment throughout the world.”

Impressive starting and ten-year salary figures, not to mention a broad scope of technical fields to explore – like nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals and special effects – mean that job prospects in Mechanical Engineering are as equally strong as they are exciting.

Watch: what does a mechanical engineer do?

Read: career progression of a mechanical engineer

A guide to Manufacturing Engineering

According to Prospects, the UK’s official graduate careers website: “Manufacturing Engineers have a high level of technical expertise and skill, which they use to plan, design, set up, modify, optimise and monitor manufacturing processes. Since the basic principles of manufacturing engineering apply to all industries they can work in numerous sectors including food and drink, oil, plastics and pharmaceuticals.”

Talented Manufacturing Engineering graduates can straddle various industries, from microelectronics, to aerospace or processed foods. Once again, desirable starting salaries, and opportunities to explore consultancy roles, are attractive incentives.

Watch: Manufacturing engineering at GE Aviation

Read: what is it like to be a manufacturing engineer at Rolls Royce?

So there you have it; the future’s bright, the future’s engineering.

With huge projected job growth predicted over the next decade you couldn’t have chosen a more buoyant industry in which to launch yourself. The only challenge now is deciding which field of specialisation it is that most floats your boat.

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