Ask An Engineer
Are you a high school or college student thinking about a career in engineering? How do you get started? The Puget Sound Engineering Council (PSEC) has an active list of local engineers from various engineering disciplines that are willing to answer your career related questions.
To get you started, we’ve put answers to some common questions below. Take a look. If you still have questions, just send an e-mail question to AskAnEngineer@pseconline.org and one of our volunteers will try to get an answer for you.
Q. What do most engineers do?
A. Engineers are problem solvers. Frequently, engineers design things that have real world applications. Many of the products and man-made structures that we use in our daily lives were designed by engineers. Engineers look for practical applications of things that scientists and others discover.
Q. What are the main types of engineering?
A. Aerospace, Civil, Chemical, Electrical, and Mechanical.
Q. What are some other types of engineering?
A. Agricultural, Architectural, Automotive, Biomedical, Ceramic, Construction, Environmental, Geothermal, Industrial, Logistics, Manufacturing, Materials, Mining, Nautical, Nuclear, Petroleum, Robotics, Structural, Telecommunications, and Transportation.
Q. What type of education is required to become an engineer?
A. Most engineers attend a four or five-year ABET accredited, engineering school that teaches the engineering discipline that they want to take, leading to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Many Universities teach several types of engineering disciplines, but usually not all. Some engineers also get a Masters or Ph.D. in their engineering discipline. The first two years of the B.S. degree in engineering are almost the same for all types of engineering, so there will be a common body of knowledge. The Junior and Senior years are more focused on the specialty courses for each type of engineering.
Q. What is the best way to learn about the different types of engineering?
A. There are links to the local and national societies of engineering on our Puget Sound Engineering Council (PSEC) website. Also the National Engineers Week Foundation website has good information on several types of engineering. The University of Washington (UW) and Washington State University (WSU) have good information on their engineering programs (under the College of Engineering). The UW has an engineering open house weekend – usually in March or April – with information about the event on the College of Engineering’s website.
Q. What is the best way to find an engineering school for a specific type of engineering discipline?
A. The Accreditation Bureau for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has a listing of U.S. ABET accredited Universities for most major engineering disciplines. Also school guidance counselors can help you find Universities that offer engineering programs.
Q. Are summer internships encouraged while attending an engineering school?
A. Yes, summer internships help give an engineering student a perspective on real engineering work, and also make the engineering course work seem more relevant. It helps give a student some real job experience to put on their resume and to talk about later during job interviews.
Q. How much is teamwork involved with engineering jobs?
A. Teamwork is a large part of many engineering assignments, particularly cross-functional teams with individuals with a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Most engineering projects involve either small or large teams.
Q. Where do most engineers work?
A. Some engineers are Consultants working with a variety of companies on assignments. Some engineers do Research in a laboratory type setting. Some engineers are Teachers and Professors at college level. The majority of engineers work for companies that make and build products (cars, airplanes, ships, roads, buildings, appliances, electronic devices, and other consumer products).