Different Types of Engineering
Aerospace engineering is divided into two types of engineering. These are overlapping branches that cover the development of aircraft and spacecraft. Aeronautical engineering (aircraft) and astronautical engineering (spacecraft) are the two key engineering branches that form the aerospace engineering industry.
Aerospace engineering industry and research has been recorded as far back as the last decade of the 18th century. The works of Sir George Cayley continued through to the mid-19th century and played a huge role in influencing other aeronautical engineers. The Wright Brothers’ work and inventions played a key part in the development of military aircraft used in the first World War.
As the aeronautical branch of engineering evolved into spaceflight, so did the term used to describe it. Aircraft (aero) and spacecraft (space) combined to form aerospace engineering. A term first used in 1958 to define the earth’s atmosphere and space as a single area for travel.
Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that covers the use, production, transformation and transportation of chemicals and other materials. Principles involved range from chemistry, physics and mathematics to biology and economics.
Workers involved with chemical engineering encompass a variety of skills. Aspects of a chemical engineer’s work cover:
- Plant design and operation
- Safety and hazard assessments
- Process design and analysis
- Chemical reaction engineering
- Biological engineering
- Construction specification and more
Chemical engineering emerged around 1887 with George E. Davis and his lectures on unit operations at the Manchester Technical School (no the University of Manchester). Huge advancements were made in the 1940s with developing chemical reactors and the transport phenomena in 1960s United States started to take focus in this branch of engineering.
Civil engineering is all around us. Everyday we experience the work of civil engineers and one of the most common types of engineering. The civil branch of engineering is comprised of design and construction work on roads, railways, schools, hospitals, water supply, power supply and more.
Sub-disciplines of civil engineering include but aren’t limited to:
- Coastal engineering
- Construction engineering
- Earthquake engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Structural engineering
- Transportation engineering
Civil engineering connects the world around us through use of design engineering, construction and other physical engineering processes. It has been a part of life since the dawn of humankind with the earliest notable evidence dating back to around 4000 and 2000 BC in ancient Egypt. During this period humans began to settle down and break away from their nomadic lives.
Dating back to the late 19th century, electrical engineering is one of the newer types of engineering. This branch of engineering covers the technology behind electricity. Electrical engineers apply their skills to the design, production and construction of components, systems and devices.
It all began with Michael Faraday’s Law of induction. The Law of Induction states that the voltage in a circuit is proportional to the rate of change in the magnetic field through the circuit. The law applies to principles found in technologies such as electronic generators, motors and transformers.
Other notable individuals and inventors associated with electrical engineering:
- Nikola Tesla (induction motor and direct current)
- George Westinghouse (alternating current)
- Guglielmo Marconi (radio)
- Philo T. Farnsworth (television)
- Thomas Edison (electric light bulb trademark)
Today, the work of electrical engineering can be seen across a multitude of other industries. From aerospace, defence and automotive to home computers and traffic control.
Mechanical engineering developed into a standalone sector during the Industrial Revolution in Europe throughout the 18th century. The development of this type of engineering however can be seen in history dating several thousands of years back.
The industry demands an understanding of mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis, electricity and more. Mechanical engineers would typically use tools like computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and similar to design and manufacturing products and components with use of industrial equipment and machinery.
Mechanical engineering overlaps with almost all other branches including civil engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering and more.
The Petroleum branch of engineering encompasses activities related to the production of hydrocarbons. The earliest known petroleum engineering work started in 1914 by the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME). Shortly after in 1915 the first petroleum engineering degree was launched by the University of Pittsburgh.
Sub-disciplines and divisions of petroleum engineering:
- Reservoir engineering
- Drilling engineering
- Drilling fluid engineers
- Completion engineers
- Production engineers