Fields of engineering

There are 17 fields of engineering in which you can practise as an engineer. You can be competent in more than one:

Aerospace Engineering

The design, development and production of aircraft (aeronautical engineering), spacecraft (astronautical engineering) and related systems. Aerospace engineers may specialise in aerodynamics, avionics, structures, control systems or propulsion systems. 

Bioengineering

Draws heavily on chemical engineering and involves the engineered development of raw materials to produce higher value products, using biological systems. Also encompasses the general application of engineering to biological systems to develop new products or solve problems in existing production processes.

Building Services Engineering

The application of mechanical or electrical engineering principles and an understanding of building structure to enhance all aspects of the built environment. Includes air conditioning and mechanical ventilation, electrical light and power, fire services, and acoustics and energy management.

Chemical Engineering

Concerned with the ways in which raw materials are changed into useful and commercial end-products such as food, petrol, plastics, and metals. Also includes research of raw materials and their properties, design and development of equipment and the evaluation of operating processes.

Civil Engineering

A broad field of engineering concerned with the design, construction, operation and maintenance of structures and infrastructure assets.

See also:

  • Structural engineering
  • Transportation engineering
  • Geotechnical engineering.

Engineering Management

Engineers who manage multidisciplinary engineering activities that overlap so much it’s difficult to place them into a specific field. Project managers, asset managers and engineers working in policy development are likely to use the "Engineering Management" field.

Electrical Engineering

Deals with the practical application of electricity and covers aspects of planning, design, operation and maintenance of electricity generation and distribution. Looks at electricity as a source of energy within major buildings, industrial processing complexes, facilities and transport systems. Also includes the associated networks and the equipment involved, such as switchboards and cabling.

See also:

  • Electronic engineering
  • Telecommunication engineering.

Environmental Engineering

Devising, implementing and managing solutions to protect and restore the environment, within an overall framework of sustainable development. 

Fire Engineering

Minimising the risk from fire to health and safety and damage to property through careful design and construction. Requires an understanding of the behaviour of fires and smoke, the behaviour of people exposed to fires and the performance of burning materials and structures. Also looks at the impact of fire protection systems such as detection, alarm and extinguishing systems.

Geotechnical Engineering

The application of knowledge of earth materials in the design of structures such as foundations, retaining walls, tunnels, dams and embankments. 

Industrial Engineering

Applying mechanical and electrical engineering principles to the design and operation of production equipment, production lines and production processes for the efficient production of industrial goods. Industrial engineers understand plant and procedural design, the management of materials and energy, and human factors associated with worker integration with systems.

Information Engineering

Based on electrical engineering but also draws heavily from computer science. There are three areas of further specialisation:

  1. Software engineering
  2. Telecommunications engineering
  3. Electronics engineering.

Mechanical Engineering

Concerned with the design and manufacture of a range of machines or mechanical systems. These typically apply principles of hydraulics (fluid control), pneumatics (air pressure control) or thermodynamics (heat energy transfer). 

Mining Engineering

Involves extracting and processing minerals from the earth. This may involve investigations, design, construction and operation of mining, extraction and processing facilities.

Petroleum Engineering

Engineers that combine their knowledge of geology and earth sciences with specialised chemical engineering skills. They may also draw on mechanical engineering expertise to design extraction and production methods and equipment. Petroleum engineering activities are divided into two broad categories:

  • Upstream – locating oil and gas beneath the earth's surface and then developing methods of extraction
  • Downstream – the design and development of plant and infrastructure for the refinement and distribution of the mixture of oil, gas and water components extracted.

Structural Engineering

A specialised field within civil engineering concerned with the design and construction of structures. These might include buildings, bridges, in-ground structures, footings, frameworks and space frames for a variety of modes of transportation such as motor vehicles and aeroplanes.

Transportation Engineering

Another specialised field within civil engineering related to the movement of goods and people by road, water, rail and air. ​