Erie Canal

The Erie Canal is a 363-mile waterway that connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River in upstate New York. The channel, which traverses New York state from Albany to Buffalo on Lake Erie, was considered an engineering marvel when it first opened in more

Why does the Leaning Tower of Pisa lean?

Pick any day in the Piazza del Duomo in the Italian city of Pisa, and you will undoubtedly spot a bunch of tourists posing for the same photo: hands outstretched towards the cathedral’s conspicuously tilting bell tower, as if they are supporting it with their sheer strength. The more

The Secrets of Ancient Roman Concrete

History contains many references to ancient concrete, including in the writings of the famous Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, who lived in the 1st century A.D. and died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Pliny wrote that the best maritime concrete was made from volcanic more

St. Lawrence Seaway opened

In a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II, the St. Lawrence Seaway is officially opened, creating a navigational channel from the Atlantic Ocean to all the Great Lakes. The seaway, made up of a system of canals, locks, and dredged more

Los Angeles Aqueduct

From the time it was founded as a small settlement in the late 18th century, Los Angeles depended on its own river for water, building a system of reservoirs and open ditches as well as canals to irrigate nearby fields. As the city grew, however, it became clear that this supply more

George Waring

After a yellow fever epidemic swept through Memphis, Tennessee in 1878, the newly created National Board of Health sent engineer and Civil War veteran George A. Waring Jr. to design and implement a better sewage drainage system for the city. His success there made Waring’s more

Hoover Dam

In the early 20th century, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation devised plans for a massive dam on the Arizona-Nevada border to tame the Colorado River and provide water and hydroelectric power for the developing Southwest. Construction within the strict timeframe proved an immense more

Golden Gate Bridge opens

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a stunning technological and artistic achievement, opens to the public after five years of construction. On opening day–“Pedestrian Day”–some 200,000 bridge walkers marveled at the 4,200-foot-long suspension bridge, which spans the Golden Gate more

Aswan High Dam completed

After 11 years of construction, the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in Egypt is completed on July 21, 1970. More than two miles long at its crest, the massive $1 billion dam ended the cycle of flood and drought in the Nile River region, and exploited a tremendous source of more

William Cobb demonstrates first solar-powered car

On August 31, 1955, William G. Cobb of the General Motors Corp. (GM) demonstrates his 15-inch-long “Sunmobile,” the world’s first solar-powered automobile, at the General Motors Powerama auto show held in Chicago, Illinois. Cobb’s Sunmobile introduced, however briefly, the field more

Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” hits bookstores

On November 30, 1965, 32-year-old lawyer Ralph Nader publishes the muckraking book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile. The book became a best-seller right away. It also prompted the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act more

Three-point seatbelt inventor Nils Bohlin born

Nils Bohlin, the Swedish engineer and inventor responsible for the three-point lap and shoulder seatbelt–considered one of the most important innovations in automobile safety–is born on July 17, 1920 in Härnösand, Sweden. Before 1959, only two-point lap belts were available in more

Pennsylvania man buried with his beloved Corvette

On May 25, 1994, the ashes of 71-year-old George Swanson are buried (according to Swanson’s request) in the driver’s seat of his 1984 white Corvette in Irwin, Pennsylvania. Swanson, a beer distributor and former U.S. Army sergeant during World War II, died the previous March 31 more

Panama Canal turned over to Panama

On December 31, 1999, the United States, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, officially hands over control of the Panama Canal, putting the strategic waterway into Panamanian hands for the first time. Crowds of Panamanians celebrated the transfer of the 50-mile more

St. Louis’s Gateway Arch is completed

On October 28, 1965, construction is completed on the Gateway Arch, a spectacular 630-foot-high parabola of stainless steel marking the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the waterfront of St. Louis, Missouri. The Gateway Arch, designed by Finnish-born, American-educated more

English Channel tunnel opens

In a ceremony presided over by England’s Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterrand, a rail tunnel under the English Channel was officially opened, connecting Britain and the European mainland for the first time since the Ice Age. The Channel Tunnel, or more

Chunnel makes breakthrough

Shortly after 11 a.m. on December 1, 1990, 132 feet below the English Channel, workers drill an opening the size of a car through a wall of rock. This was no ordinary hole–it connected the two ends of an underwater tunnel linking Great Britain with the European mainland for the more

Building of Hoover Dam begins

On July 7, 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam begins. Over the next five years, a total of 21,000 men would work ceaselessly to produce what would be the largest dam of its time, as well as one of the largest manmade structures in the world. Although the dam would take only more

Brooklyn Bridge opens

After 14 years, the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River opens, connecting the great cities of New York and Brooklyn for the first time in history. Thousands of residents of Brooklyn and Manhattan Island turned out to witness the dedication ceremony, which was presided over by more

Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses due to high winds on November 7, 1940. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge was built in Washington during the 1930s and opened to traffic on July 1, 1940. It spanned the Puget Sound from Gig Harbor to Tacoma, which is 40 miles south of Seattle. The more

Dam gives way in Georgia

On November 6, 1977, the Toccoa Falls Dam in Georgia gives way and 39 people die in the resulting flood. Ninety miles north of Atlanta, the Toccoa (Cherokee for “beautiful”) Falls Dam was constructed of earth across a canyon in 1887, creating a 55-acre lake 180 feet above the more


The creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property. [4] [5]

Engineering has existed since ancient times, when humans devised inventions such as the wedge, lever, wheel and pulley, etc.

The term engineering is derived from the word engineer, which itself dates back to the 14th century when an engine'er (literally, one who builds or operates a siege engine) referred to "a constructor of military engines." [6] In this context, now obsolete, an "engine" referred to a military machine, i.e., a mechanical contraption used in war (for example, a catapult). Notable examples of the obsolete usage which have survived to the present day are military engineering corps, e.g., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The word "engine" itself is of even older origin, ultimately deriving from the Latin ingenium (c. 1250), meaning "innate quality, especially mental power, hence a clever invention." [7]

Later, as the design of civilian structures, such as bridges and buildings, matured as a technical discipline, the term civil engineering [5] entered the lexicon as a way to distinguish between those specializing in the construction of such non-military projects and those involved in the discipline of military engineering.

Ancient era

The pyramids in ancient Egypt, ziggurats of Mesopotamia, the Acropolis and Parthenon in Greece, the Roman aqueducts, Via Appia and Colosseum, Teotihuacán, and the Brihadeeswarar Temple of Thanjavur, among many others, stand as a testament to the ingenuity and skill of ancient civil and military engineers. Other monuments, no longer standing, such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Pharos of Alexandria, were important engineering achievements of their time and were considered among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The six classic simple machines were known in the ancient Near East. The wedge and the inclined plane (ramp) were known since prehistoric times. [8] The wheel, along with the wheel and axle mechanism, was invented in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) during the 5th millennium BC. [9] The lever mechanism first appeared around 5,000 years ago in the Near East, where it was used in a simple balance scale, [10] and to move large objects in ancient Egyptian technology. [11] The lever was also used in the shadoof water-lifting device, the first crane machine, which appeared in Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC, [10] and then in ancient Egyptian technology circa 2000 BC. [12] The earliest evidence of pulleys date back to Mesopotamia in the early 2nd millennium BC, [13] and ancient Egypt during the Twelfth Dynasty (1991-1802 BC). [14] The screw, the last of the simple machines to be invented, [15] first appeared in Mesopotamia during the Neo-Assyrian period (911-609) BC. [13] The Egyptian pyramids were built using three of the six simple machines, the inclined plane, the wedge, and the lever, to create structures like the Great Pyramid of Giza. [16]

The earliest civil engineer known by name is Imhotep. [5] As one of the officials of the Pharaoh, Djosèr, he probably designed and supervised the construction of the Pyramid of Djoser (the Step Pyramid) at Saqqara in Egypt around 2630–2611 BC. [17] The earliest practical water-powered machines, the water wheel and watermill, first appeared in the Persian Empire, in what are now Iraq and Iran, by the early 4th century BC. [18]

Kush developed the Sakia during the 4th century BC, which relied on animal power instead of human energy. [19] Hafirs were developed as a type of reservoir in Kush to store and contain water as well as boost irrigation. [20] Sappers were employed to build causeways during military campaigns. [21] Kushite ancestors built speos during the Bronze Age between 3700 and 3250 BC. [22] Bloomeries and blast furnaces were also created during the 7th centuries BC in Kush. [23] [24] [25] [26]

Ancient Greece developed machines in both civilian and military domains. The Antikythera mechanism, an early known mechanical analog computer, [27] [28] and the mechanical inventions of Archimedes, are examples of Greek mechanical engineering. Some of Archimedes' inventions as well as the Antikythera mechanism required sophisticated knowledge of differential gearing or epicyclic gearing, two key principles in machine theory that helped design the gear trains of the Industrial Revolution, and are still widely used today in diverse fields such as robotics and automotive engineering. [29]

Ancient Chinese, Greek, Roman and Hunnic armies employed military machines and inventions such as artillery which was developed by the Greeks around the 4th century BC, [30] the trireme, the ballista and the catapult. In the Middle Ages, the trebuchet was developed.

Middle Ages

The earliest practical wind-powered machines, the windmill and wind pump, first appeared in the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age, in what are now Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, by the 9th century AD. [31] [32] [33] [34] The earliest practical steam-powered machine was a steam jack driven by a steam turbine, described in 1551 by Taqi al-Din Muhammad ibn Ma'ruf in Ottoman Egypt. [35] [36]

The cotton gin was invented in India by the 6th century AD, [37] and the spinning wheel was invented in the Islamic world by the early 11th century, [38] both of which were fundamental to the growth of the cotton industry. The spinning wheel was also a precursor to the spinning jenny, which was a key development during the early Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. [39] The crankshaft and camshaft were invented by Al-Jazari in Northern Mesopotamia circa 1206, [40] [41] [42] and they later became central to modern machinery such as the steam engine, internal combustion engine and automatic controls. [43]

The earliest programmable machines were developed in the Muslim world. A music sequencer, a programmable musical instrument, was the earliest type of programmable machine. The first music sequencer was an automated flute player invented by the Banu Musa brothers, described in their Book of Ingenious Devices, in the 9th century. [44] [45] In 1206, Al-Jazari invented programmable automata/robots. He described four automaton musicians, including drummers operated by a programmable drum machine, where they could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns. [46] The castle clock, a hydropowered mechanical astronomical clock invented by Al-Jazari, was the first programmable analog computer. [47] [48] [49]

Before the development of modern engineering, mathematics was used by artisans and craftsmen, such as millwrights, clockmakers, instrument makers and surveyors. Aside from these professions, universities were not believed to have had much practical significance to technology. [50] : 32

A standard reference for the state of mechanical arts during the Renaissance is given in the mining engineering treatise De re metallica (1556), which also contains sections on geology, mining, and chemistry. De re metallica was the standard chemistry reference for the next 180 years. [50]

Modern era

The science of classical mechanics, sometimes called Newtonian mechanics, formed the scientific basis of much of modern engineering. [50] With the rise of engineering as a profession in the 18th century, the term became more narrowly applied to fields in which mathematics and science were applied to these ends. Similarly, in addition to military and civil engineering, the fields then known as the mechanic arts became incorporated into engineering.

Canal building was an important engineering work during the early phases of the Industrial Revolution. [51]

John Smeaton was the first self-proclaimed civil engineer and is often regarded as the "father" of civil engineering. He was an English civil engineer responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbors, and lighthouses. He was also a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist. Using a model water wheel, Smeaton conducted experiments for seven years, determining ways to increase efficiency. [52] : 127 Smeaton introduced iron axles and gears to water wheels. [50] : 69 Smeaton also made mechanical improvements to the Newcomen steam engine. Smeaton designed the third Eddystone Lighthouse (1755–59) where he pioneered the use of 'hydraulic lime' (a form of mortar which will set under water) and developed a technique involving dovetailed blocks of granite in the building of the lighthouse. He is important in the history, rediscovery of, and development of modern cement, because he identified the compositional requirements needed to obtain "hydraulicity" in lime work which led ultimately to the invention of Portland cement.

Applied science lead to the development of the steam engine. The sequence of events began with the invention the barometer and the measurement of atmospheric pressure by Evangelista Torricelli in 1643, demonstration of the force of atmospheric pressure by Otto von Guericke using the Magdeburg hemispheres in 1656, laboratory experiments by Denis Papin, who built experimental model steam engines and demonstrated the use of a piston, which he published in 1707. Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester published a book of 100 inventions containing a method for raising waters similar to a coffee percolator. Samuel Morland, a mathematician and inventor who worked on pumps, left notes at the Vauxhall Ordinance Office on a steam pump design that Thomas Savery read. In 1698 Savery built a steam pump called "The Miner's Friend." It employed both vacuum and pressure. [53] Iron merchant Thomas Newcomen, who built the first commercial piston steam engine in 1712, was not known to have any scientific training. [52] : 32

The application of steam-powered cast iron blowing cylinders for providing pressurized air for blast furnaces lead to a large increase in iron production in the late 18th century. The higher furnace temperatures made possible with steam-powered blast allowed for the use of more lime in blast furnaces, which enabled the transition from charcoal to coke. [54] These innovations lowered the cost of iron, making horse railways and iron bridges practical. The puddling process, patented by Henry Cort in 1784 produced large scale quantities of wrought iron. Hot blast, patented by James Beaumont Neilson in 1828, greatly lowered the amount of fuel needed to smelt iron. With the development of the high pressure steam engine, the power to weight ratio of steam engines made practical steamboats and locomotives possible. [55] New steel making processes, such as the Bessemer process and the open hearth furnace, ushered in an area of heavy engineering in the late 19th century.

One of the most famous engineers of the mid 19th century was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who built railroads, dockyards and steamships.

The Industrial Revolution created a demand for machinery with metal parts, which led to the development of several machine tools. Boring cast iron cylinders with precision was not possible until John Wilkinson invented his boring machine, which is considered the first machine tool. [56] Other machine tools included the screw cutting lathe, milling machine, turret lathe and the metal planer. Precision machining techniques were developed in the first half of the 19th century. These included the use of gigs to guide the machining tool over the work and fixtures to hold the work in the proper position. Machine tools and machining techniques capable of producing interchangeable parts lead to large scale factory production by the late 19th century. [57]

The United States census of 1850 listed the occupation of "engineer" for the first time with a count of 2,000. [58] There were fewer than 50 engineering graduates in the U.S. before 1865. In 1870 there were a dozen U.S. mechanical engineering graduates, with that number increasing to 43 per year in 1875. In 1890, there were 6,000 engineers in civil, mining, mechanical and electrical. [59]

There was no chair of applied mechanism and applied mechanics at Cambridge until 1875, and no chair of engineering at Oxford until 1907. Germany established technical universities earlier. [60]

The foundations of electrical engineering in the 1800s included the experiments of Alessandro Volta, Michael Faraday, Georg Ohm and others and the invention of the electric telegraph in 1816 and the electric motor in 1872. The theoretical work of James Maxwell (see: Maxwell's equations) and Heinrich Hertz in the late 19th century gave rise to the field of electronics. The later inventions of the vacuum tube and the transistor further accelerated the development of electronics to such an extent that electrical and electronics engineers currently outnumber their colleagues of any other engineering specialty. [5] Chemical engineering developed in the late nineteenth century. [5] Industrial scale manufacturing demanded new materials and new processes and by 1880 the need for large scale production of chemicals was such that a new industry was created, dedicated to the development and large scale manufacturing of chemicals in new industrial plants. [5] The role of the chemical engineer was the design of these chemical plants and processes. [5]

Aeronautical engineering deals with aircraft design process design while aerospace engineering is a more modern term that expands the reach of the discipline by including spacecraft design. Its origins can be traced back to the aviation pioneers around the start of the 20th century although the work of Sir George Cayley has recently been dated as being from the last decade of the 18th century. Early knowledge of aeronautical engineering was largely empirical with some concepts and skills imported from other branches of engineering. [61]

The first PhD in engineering (technically, applied science and engineering) awarded in the United States went to Josiah Willard Gibbs at Yale University in 1863 it was also the second PhD awarded in science in the U.S. [62]

Only a decade after the successful flights by the Wright brothers, there was extensive development of aeronautical engineering through development of military aircraft that were used in World War I. Meanwhile, research to provide fundamental background science continued by combining theoretical physics with experiments.

Engineering is a broad discipline that is often broken down into several sub-disciplines. Although an engineer will usually be trained in a specific discipline, he or she may become multi-disciplined through experience. Engineering is often characterized as having four main branches: [63] [64] [65] chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Chemical engineering

Chemical engineering is the application of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering principles in order to carry out chemical processes on a commercial scale, such as the manufacture of commodity chemicals, specialty chemicals, petroleum refining, microfabrication, fermentation, and biomolecule production.

Civil engineering

Civil engineering is the design and construction of public and private works, such as infrastructure (airports, roads, railways, water supply, and treatment etc.), bridges, tunnels, dams, and buildings. [66] [67] Civil engineering is traditionally broken into a number of sub-disciplines, including structural engineering, environmental engineering, and surveying. It is traditionally considered to be separate from military engineering. [68]

Electrical engineering

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineering is the design and manufacture of physical or mechanical systems, such as power and energy systems, aerospace/aircraft products, weapon systems, transportation products, engines, compressors, powertrains, kinematic chains, vacuum technology, vibration isolation equipment, manufacturing, robotics, turbines, audio equipments, and mechatronics.

New specialties sometimes combine with the traditional fields and form new branches – for example, Earth systems engineering and management involves a wide range of subject areas including engineering studies, environmental science, engineering ethics and philosophy of engineering.

Aerospace engineering

Aerospace engineering studies design, manufacture aircraft, satellites, rockets, helicopters, and so on. It closely studies the pressure difference and aerodynamics of a vehicle to ensure safety and efficiency. Since most of the studies are related to fluids, it is applied to any moving vehicle, such as cars.

Marine engineering

Marine engineering is associated with anything on or near the ocean. Examples are, but not limited to, ships, submarines, oil rigs, structure, watercraft propulsion, on-board design and development, plants, harbors, and so on. It requires a combined knowledge in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, and some programming abilities.

Computer engineering

Computer engineering (CE) is a branch of engineering that integrates several fields of computer science and electronic engineering required to develop computer hardware and software. Computer engineers usually have training in electronic engineering (or electrical engineering), software design, and hardware-software integration instead of only software engineering or electronic engineering.

One who practices engineering is called an engineer, and those licensed to do so may have more formal designations such as Professional Engineer, Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer, Ingenieur, European Engineer, or Designated Engineering Representative.

In the engineering design process, engineers apply mathematics and sciences such as physics to find novel solutions to problems or to improve existing solutions. Engineers need proficient knowledge of relevant sciences for their design projects. As a result, many engineers continue to learn new material throughout their career.

If multiple solutions exist, engineers weigh each design choice based on their merit and choose the solution that best matches the requirements. The task of the engineer is to identify, understand, and interpret the constraints on a design in order to yield a successful result. It is generally insufficient to build a technically successful product, rather, it must also meet further requirements.

Constraints may include available resources, physical, imaginative or technical limitations, flexibility for future modifications and additions, and other factors, such as requirements for cost, safety, marketability, productivity, and serviceability. By understanding the constraints, engineers derive specifications for the limits within which a viable object or system may be produced and operated.

Problem solving

Engineers use their knowledge of science, mathematics, logic, economics, and appropriate experience or tacit knowledge to find suitable solutions to a problem. Creating an appropriate mathematical model of a problem often allows them to analyze it (sometimes definitively), and to test potential solutions. [72]

Usually, multiple reasonable solutions exist, so engineers must evaluate the different design choices on their merits and choose the solution that best meets their requirements. Genrich Altshuller, after gathering statistics on a large number of patents, suggested that compromises are at the heart of "low-level" engineering designs, while at a higher level the best design is one which eliminates the core contradiction causing the problem. [73]

Engineers typically attempt to predict how well their designs will perform to their specifications prior to full-scale production. They use, among other things: prototypes, scale models, simulations, destructive tests, nondestructive tests, and stress tests. Testing ensures that products will perform as expected. [74]

Engineers take on the responsibility of producing designs that will perform as well as expected and will not cause unintended harm to the public at large. Engineers typically include a factor of safety in their designs to reduce the risk of unexpected failure.

The study of failed products is known as forensic engineering and can help the product designer in evaluating his or her design in the light of real conditions. The discipline is of greatest value after disasters, such as bridge collapses, when careful analysis is needed to establish the cause or causes of the failure. [75]

Computer use

As with all modern scientific and technological endeavors, computers and software play an increasingly important role. As well as the typical business application software there are a number of computer aided applications (computer-aided technologies) specifically for engineering. Computers can be used to generate models of fundamental physical processes, which can be solved using numerical methods.

One of the most widely used design tools in the profession is computer-aided design (CAD) software. It enables engineers to create 3D models, 2D drawings, and schematics of their designs. CAD together with digital mockup (DMU) and CAE software such as finite element method analysis or analytic element method allows engineers to create models of designs that can be analyzed without having to make expensive and time-consuming physical prototypes.

These allow products and components to be checked for flaws assess fit and assembly study ergonomics and to analyze static and dynamic characteristics of systems such as stresses, temperatures, electromagnetic emissions, electrical currents and voltages, digital logic levels, fluid flows, and kinematics. Access and distribution of all this information is generally organized with the use of product data management software. [76]

There are also many tools to support specific engineering tasks such as computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to generate CNC machining instructions manufacturing process management software for production engineering EDA for printed circuit board (PCB) and circuit schematics for electronic engineers MRO applications for maintenance management and Architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) software for civil engineering.

In recent years the use of computer software to aid the development of goods has collectively come to be known as product lifecycle management (PLM). [77]

The engineering profession engages in a wide range of activities, from large collaboration at the societal level, and also smaller individual projects. Almost all engineering projects are obligated to some sort of financing agency: a company, a set of investors, or a government. The few types of engineering that are minimally constrained by such issues are pro bono engineering and open-design engineering.

By its very nature engineering has interconnections with society, culture and human behavior. Every product or construction used by modern society is influenced by engineering. The results of engineering activity influence changes to the environment, society and economies, and its application brings with it a responsibility and public safety.

Engineering projects can be subject to controversy. Examples from different engineering disciplines include the development of nuclear weapons, the Three Gorges Dam, the design and use of sport utility vehicles and the extraction of oil. In response, some western engineering companies have enacted serious corporate and social responsibility policies.

Engineering is a key driver of innovation and human development. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, has a very small engineering capacity which results in many African nations being unable to develop crucial infrastructure without outside aid. [ citation needed ] The attainment of many of the Millennium Development Goals requires the achievement of sufficient engineering capacity to develop infrastructure and sustainable technological development. [78]

All overseas development and relief NGOs make considerable use of engineers to apply solutions in disaster and development scenarios. A number of charitable organizations aim to use engineering directly for the good of mankind:

Engineering companies in many established economies are facing significant challenges with regard to the number of professional engineers being trained, compared with the number retiring. This problem is very prominent in the UK where engineering has a poor image and low status. [80] There are many negative economic and political issues that this can cause, as well as ethical issues. [81] It is widely agreed that the engineering profession faces an "image crisis", [82] rather than it being fundamentally an unattractive career. Much work is needed to avoid huge problems in the UK and other western economies. Still, the UK holds most engineering companies compared to other European countries, together with the United States.

Code of ethics

Many engineering societies have established codes of practice and codes of ethics to guide members and inform the public at large. The National Society of Professional Engineers code of ethics states:

Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of this profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people. Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct. [83]

In Canada, many engineers wear the Iron Ring as a symbol and reminder of the obligations and ethics associated with their profession. [84]


Scientists study the world as it is engineers create the world that has never been.

There exists an overlap between the sciences and engineering practice in engineering, one applies science. Both areas of endeavor rely on accurate observation of materials and phenomena. Both use mathematics and classification criteria to analyze and communicate observations. [ citation needed ]

Scientists may also have to complete engineering tasks, such as designing experimental apparatus or building prototypes. Conversely, in the process of developing technology engineers sometimes find themselves exploring new phenomena, thus becoming, for the moment, scientists or more precisely "engineering scientists". [ citation needed ]

In the book What Engineers Know and How They Know It, [88] Walter Vincenti asserts that engineering research has a character different from that of scientific research. First, it often deals with areas in which the basic physics or chemistry are well understood, but the problems themselves are too complex to solve in an exact manner.

There is a "real and important" difference between engineering and physics as similar to any science field has to do with technology. [89] [90] Physics is an exploratory science that seeks knowledge of principles while engineering uses knowledge for practical applications of principles. The former equates an understanding into a mathematical principle while the latter measures variables involved and creates technology. [91] [92] [93] For technology, physics is an auxiliary and in a way technology is considered as applied physics. [94] Though physics and engineering are interrelated, it does not mean that a physicist is trained to do an engineer's job. A physicist would typically require additional and relevant training. [95] Physicists and engineers engage in different lines of work. [96] But PhD physicists who specialize in sectors of engineering physics and applied physics are titled as Technology officer, R&D Engineers and System Engineers. [97]

An example of this is the use of numerical approximations to the Navier–Stokes equations to describe aerodynamic flow over an aircraft, or the use of the Finite element method to calculate the stresses in complex components. Second, engineering research employs many semi-empirical methods that are foreign to pure scientific research, one example being the method of parameter variation. [ citation needed ]

As stated by Fung et al. in the revision to the classic engineering text Foundations of Solid Mechanics:

Engineering is quite different from science. Scientists try to understand nature. Engineers try to make things that do not exist in nature. Engineers stress innovation and invention. To embody an invention the engineer must put his idea in concrete terms, and design something that people can use. That something can be a complex system, device, a gadget, a material, a method, a computing program, an innovative experiment, a new solution to a problem, or an improvement on what already exists. Since a design has to be realistic and functional, it must have its geometry, dimensions, and characteristics data defined. In the past engineers working on new designs found that they did not have all the required information to make design decisions. Most often, they were limited by insufficient scientific knowledge. Thus they studied mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and mechanics. Often they had to add to the sciences relevant to their profession. Thus engineering sciences were born. [98]

Although engineering solutions make use of scientific principles, engineers must also take into account safety, efficiency, economy, reliability, and constructability or ease of fabrication as well as the environment, ethical and legal considerations such as patent infringement or liability in the case of failure of the solution. [99]

Medicine and biology

The study of the human body, albeit from different directions and for different purposes, is an important common link between medicine and some engineering disciplines. Medicine aims to sustain, repair, enhance and even replace functions of the human body, if necessary, through the use of technology.

Modern medicine can replace several of the body's functions through the use of artificial organs and can significantly alter the function of the human body through artificial devices such as, for example, brain implants and pacemakers. [100] [101] The fields of bionics and medical bionics are dedicated to the study of synthetic implants pertaining to natural systems.

Conversely, some engineering disciplines view the human body as a biological machine worth studying and are dedicated to emulating many of its functions by replacing biology with technology. This has led to fields such as artificial intelligence, neural networks, fuzzy logic, and robotics. There are also substantial interdisciplinary interactions between engineering and medicine. [102] [103]

Both fields provide solutions to real world problems. This often requires moving forward before phenomena are completely understood in a more rigorous scientific sense and therefore experimentation and empirical knowledge is an integral part of both.

Medicine, in part, studies the function of the human body. The human body, as a biological machine, has many functions that can be modeled using engineering methods. [104]

The heart for example functions much like a pump, [105] the skeleton is like a linked structure with levers, [106] the brain produces electrical signals etc. [107] These similarities as well as the increasing importance and application of engineering principles in medicine, led to the development of the field of biomedical engineering that uses concepts developed in both disciplines.

Newly emerging branches of science, such as systems biology, are adapting analytical tools traditionally used for engineering, such as systems modeling and computational analysis, to the description of biological systems. [104]

There are connections between engineering and art, for example, architecture, landscape architecture and industrial design (even to the extent that these disciplines may sometimes be included in a university's Faculty of Engineering). [109] [110] [111]

The Art Institute of Chicago, for instance, held an exhibition about the art of NASA's aerospace design. [112] Robert Maillart's bridge design is perceived by some to have been deliberately artistic. [113] At the University of South Florida, an engineering professor, through a grant with the National Science Foundation, has developed a course that connects art and engineering. [109] [114]

Among famous historical figures, Leonardo da Vinci is a well-known Renaissance artist and engineer, and a prime example of the nexus between art and engineering. [108] [115]


Business Engineering deals with the relationship between professional engineering, IT systems, business administration and change management. Engineering management or "Management engineering" is a specialized field of management concerned with engineering practice or the engineering industry sector. The demand for management-focused engineers (or from the opposite perspective, managers with an understanding of engineering), has resulted in the development of specialized engineering management degrees that develop the knowledge and skills needed for these roles. During an engineering management course, students will develop industrial engineering skills, knowledge, and expertise, alongside knowledge of business administration, management techniques, and strategic thinking. Engineers specializing in change management must have in-depth knowledge of the application of industrial and organizational psychology principles and methods. Professional engineers often train as certified management consultants in the very specialized field of management consulting applied to engineering practice or the engineering sector. This work often deals with large scale complex business transformation or Business process management initiatives in aerospace and defence, automotive, oil and gas, machinery, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, electrical & electronics, power distribution & generation, utilities and transportation systems. This combination of technical engineering practice, management consulting practice, industry sector knowledge, and change management expertise enables professional engineers who are also qualified as management consultants to lead major business transformation initiatives. These initiatives are typically sponsored by C-level executives.

Other fields

In political science, the term engineering has been borrowed for the study of the subjects of social engineering and political engineering, which deal with forming political and social structures using engineering methodology coupled with political science principles. Marketing engineering and Financial engineering have similarly borrowed the term.


Graduate School Application Information

Office Hours with a Dean

Join Senior Associate Dean Kimani Toussaint on Mondays beginning May 10-August 2 (excluding 5/31 and 7/5) for open advising hours from 12-1 p.m. ET via Zoom. This is an opportunity to discuss any concerns or suggestions about any aspect of the School of Engineering. To make an appointment, send an email to [email protected] , briefly indicating to what the matter pertains.

January 1, 1981 – State Transportation Research Program transferred to College.

July 1982 – Donald C. Leigh appointed interim Dean.

September 1, 1983 – Ray M. Bowen assumes duties as Dean of the College.

January 1986 – Groundbreaking for the Mining & Mineral Resources Building dedicated April 8, 1988.

December 1987 – Groundbreaking for the UK Center for Manufacturing dedicated April 20, 1990.

1988 – Construction begins on the new Agricultural Engineering Building dedicated June 1990.

1988 – Name of the Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science changes to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

July 1, 1989 – Ray M. Bowen resigns as dean Vincent P. Drnevich named interim dean.

Stories of Engineering History

Dr. Frances Arnold, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2018, describes the impact of NSF support. From the early days of her career, NSF supported research that led to directed evolution.

Ms. Kimberly Bryant, who began her decades-long NSF career in the Engineering Directorate, recalls some tough transitions to new electronic systems.

Dr. Carmiña Londoño describes how the NSF Engineering Research Centers program makes societal impacts and the vision of its long-serving leader, Lynn Preston.

Dr. Andre Marshall, who was on an NSF Innovation Corps team in 2012, saw another side of the program when he came to the NSF Engineering Directorate to run I-Corps.

Dr. Bruce Kramer shares manufacturing breakthroughs that began with NSF Engineering and his work on the national strategy for advanced manufacturing.

A Brief History of IEEE


Although it is association of cutting-edge members, IEEE’s roots go back to 1884 when electricity was just beginning to become a major force in society. There was one major established electrical industry, the telegraph, which—beginning in the 1840s—had come to connect the world with a communications system faster than the speed of transportation. A second major area had only barely gotten underway—electric power and light, originating in Thomas Edison’s inventions and his pioneering Pearl Street Station in New York.

Foundation of the AIEE

In the spring of 1884, a small group of individuals in the electrical professions met in New York. They formed a new organization to support professionals in their nascent field and to aid them in their efforts—the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, or AIEE for short. That October the AIEE held its first technical meeting in Philadelphia. Many early leaders, such as founding President Norvin Green of Western Union, came from telegraphy. Others, such as Thomas Edison, came from power, while Alexander Graham Bell represented the newer telephone industry. As electric power spread rapidly across the land—enhanced by innovations such as Nikola Tesla’s AC Induction Motor, long distance AC transmission and large-scale power plants, and commercialized by industries such as Westinghouse and General Electric—the AIEE became increasingly focused on electrical power and its ability to change people’s lives through the unprecedented products and services it could deliver. There was a secondary focus on wired communication, both the telegraph and the telephone. Through technical meetings, publications, and promotion of standards, the AIEE led the growth of the electrical engineering profession, while through local sections and student branches, it brought its benefits to engineers in widespread places.It also gave recognition for outstanding achievement in electrical techonologies through annual awards, begining with the Edison Medal, first presented to Elihu Thomson in 1909. The IEEE logo has a rich history and incorporates elements from the founding organizations and the merger.

Beginning in 1906, the AIEE made its home at the Engineering Societies Building at 29 West 39th St, along with the other Founding Societies.

Foundation of the IRE

A new industry arose beginning with Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless telegraphy experiments at the turn of the century. What was originally called “wireless” became radio with the electrical amplification possibilities inherent in the vacuum tubes which evolved from John Fleming’s diode and Lee de Forest’s triode. With the new industry came a new society in 1912, the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE). The IRE was modeled on the AIEE, but was devoted to radio, and then increasingly to electronics. The IRE's headquarters was the magnificent Brokaw Mansion at 1 East 79th St. in New York City. It, too, furthered its profession by linking its members through publications, standards and conferences, and encouraging them to advance their industries by promoting innovation and excellence in the emerging new products and services.

The Societies Converge and Merge

Through the help of leadership from the two societies, and with the applications of its members’ innovations to industry, electricity wove its way—decade by decade—more deeply into every corner of life—television, radar, transistors, computers. Increasingly, the interests of the societies overlapped. Membership in both societies grew, but beginning in the 1940s, the IRE grew faster and in 1957 became the larger group. On 1 January 1963, the AIEE and the IRE merged to form the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE. At its formation, the IEEE had 150,000 members, 140,000 of whom were in the United States. The Headquarters of the newly-formed IEEE was in the United Engineering Center, overlooking the United Nations at 345 East 47th St., New York, New York. The UEC building opened in September 1961, and the founder societies moved there from the West 39th St building, and the IRE moved there from its Brokaw Mansion headquarters to join the AIEE upon the merger in 1963. IEEE remained at the UEC until 1998, when the building was sold to developer Donald Trump, who tore it down to build luxury apartments. IEEE Merger Oral History Collection

IEEE 1963-1984

Over the decades that followed, with IEEE’s continued leadership, the societal roles of the technologies under its aegis continued to spread across the world, and reach into more and more areas of people’s lives. The professional groups and technical boards of the predecessor institutions evolved into IEEE Societies. By the time IEEE celebrated its centennial (from the year AIEE was formed) in 1984, it had 250,000 members, 50,000 of whom were outside the United States. IEEE's expansion caused the IEEE Operations Center to be built in Piscataway, New Jersey.

One of the ways IEEE preserves the history of its professions is through its Milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing Program begun in 1983.

Here is a timeline of IEEE from 1963-1984

IEEE from 1984

Since that time, computers evolved from massive mainframes to desktop appliances to portable devices, all part of a global network connected by satellites and then by fiber optics. IEEE’s fields of interest expanded well beyond electrical/electronic engineering and computing into areas such as micro- and nanotechnology, ultrasonics, bioengineering, robotics, electronic materials, and many others. Electronics became ubiquitous—from jet cockpits to industrial robots to medical imaging. As technologies and the industries that developed them increasingly transcended national boundaries, IEEE kept pace, becoming a truly global institution which used the innovations of the practitioners it represented in order to enhance its own excellence in delivering products and services to members, industries, and the public at large.

By the early 21st Century, IEEE served its members and their interests with 38 societies 130 journals, transactions and magazines more 300 conferences annually and 900 active standards.

Publications and educational programs were delivered online, as were member services such as renewal and elections. By 2009, IEEE had 380,000 members in 160 countries, with 44.5 percent outside of the country where it was founded a century and a quarter before. Through its worldwide network of geographical units, publications, web services, and conferences, IEEE remains the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology.

7. The Erie Canal

Between the Hudson River and Lake Erie land elevation increases by about 600 feet. Canal locks of the day (1800) could raise or lower boats about 12 feet, which meant that at least 50 locks would be required to build a canal which linked the Hudson with the Great Lakes. President Thomas Jefferson called the project “…little short of madness.” New York’s governor, Dewitt Clinton, disagreed and supported the project, which led to its detractors calling the canal “Dewitt’s Ditch” and other, less mild pejoratives. Clinton pursued the project fervently, overseeing the creation of a 360 mile long waterway across upstate New York, which linked the upper Midwest to New York City. The cities of Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio, thrived once the canal was completed, in 1825.

The engineering demands of the canal included the removal of earth using animal power, water power (using aqueducts to redirect water flow), and gunpowder to blast through limestone. None of the canal’s planners and builders were professional engineers, instead they were mathematics instructors, judges, and amateur surveyors who learned as they went. Labor was provided by increased immigration, mostly from Ireland and the German provinces. When it was completed in 1825 the canal was considered an engineering masterpiece, one of the longest canals in the world. The Erie Canal’s heyday was relatively short, due to the development of the railroads, but it led to the growth of the port of New York, and spurred the building of competing canals in other Eastern states.

Most industrial engineer jobs require at least a bachelor's degree in engineering. Many employers, particularly those that offer engineering consulting services, also require certification as a professional engineer (PE). A master's degree is often required for promotion to management, and ongoing education and training are needed to keep up with advances in technology, materials, computer hardware and software, and government regulations. Additionally, many industrial engineers belong to the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE).

The BLS projects that the employment of industrial engineers will grow by 5 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. "This occupation is versatile both in the kind of work it does and in the industries in which its expertise can be put to use," the BLS said. Having good grades from a highly rated institution should give a job seeker an advantage over the competition.

What is Engineering? | Types of Engineering

Engineering is the application of science and math to solve problems. Engineers figure out how things work and find practical uses for scientific discoveries. Scientists and inventors often get the credit for innovations that advance the human condition, but it is engineers who are instrumental in making those innovations available to the world.

In his book, "Disturbing the Universe" (Sloan Foundation, 1981), physicist Freeman Dyson wrote, "A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering."

The history of engineering is part and parcel of the history of human civilization. The Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower stand today as monuments to our heritage of engineering. Today's engineers not only build huge structures, such as the International Space Station, but they are also building maps to the human genome and better, smallercomputer chips.

Engineering is one of the cornerstones of STEM education, an interdisciplinary curriculum designed to motivate students to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Engineering in History

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Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) Collections
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