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Most engineers specialize in a certain area, there are more
than 25 specialties recognized by professional engineering
societies and each area has many divisions. Engineers will
also sometimes choose to specialize in a specific industry or
Electrical engineers develop electrical equipment involved in power generation, controlling, and transmission. They must have in-depth scientific understanding about electricity and technology in various products and services. Electrical engineering encompasses such areas as power systems, communication, and several subspecialties such as industrial robot control, aviation, microprocessors and digital broadcasting. They often work in areas closely related to computers.
Mechanical engineers design, develop, and manufacture tools,
machines, manufacturing systems, engines and other mechanical
devices. Mechanical engineers focus on how things work and
ways in which to improve old devices and systems so that they
run at an optimal level of efficiency and safety. Mechanical
engineering is the broadest of the engineering specialties,
in that they work in a variety of areas including production
operations, manufacturing and agriculture, maintenance,
sales, or even administration and management.
Civil engineers design and improve roads, buildings,
airports, bridges, dams and irrigation systems, water
treatment processes, erosion control techniques, tunnels and
transportation systems. Civil engineering is one of the
oldest engineering disciplines, and includes many
specialties. The main ones being structural, water resources,
environmental, construction, transportation, and geotechnical
engineering. Civil engineers often hold supervisor or
administrator roles, from supervising a construction site to
working as a city engineer or planner.
Industrial engineers design and evaluate a variety of
operations, such as assembly lines and automated factories.
They work as high-level managers, and are responsible for
maintaining efficient operations and discovering areas that
may need improvement, such as cost-efficiency, quality, or
safety. Usually they work for larger manufacturers who
mass-produce non-durable and durable items.
A day in the life?
Education and training
Graduate school is necessary for engineers looking to teach or hold research and development roles. Many engineers choose to obtain graduate degrees in business. All 50 states and the District of Columbia require that engineers hold a license if they offer services directly to the public. This designation is called Professional Engineer (PE) and usually requires a degree from an accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience, and completion of an examination. Recent graduates can take the first part of the exam (Fundamentals of Engineering) immediately following their graduation, and are given the designation of Engineer in Training (EIT) or Engineer Intern (EI). They can take the second part of the exam (the Principles and Practice of Engineering) once they have worked for the required amount of time. In addition, many states have mandatory continuing education requirements for the renewal of engineering licenses.
Hot job areas for engineers are in the environmental, electrical, biomedical, and computer hardware engineering specialties, with software engineering expected to see the fastest growth in the entire economy. Continuing education is extremely important in engineering, as engineers must stay up to date on the latest technology and tools in their field. Engineers risk losing their job or missing out on opportunities if they do not participate in continual learning throughout their career.
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