Different Types of Engineering Fields (With Definition)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Engineering is the application of science to ease life and solve everyday problems. There are several diverse specialised disciplines within engineering subjects. If you are thinking to pursue a career in engineering, knowing about different engineering fields can help you choose the right discipline for further study. In this article, we discuss the five major engineering fields, explore their disciplines and take a look at other common engineering fields.

Prominent Engineering Fields And Disciplines

Engineering is an area of study that involves scientific theories and mathematical processes. Its application is to design and develop scientific solutions that are economical, safe and improve human lives considering safety, regulations and practicality. The most prominent engineering fields are civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and software engineering. There are many sub-disciplines of these fields:

Civil engineering

Civil engineering is one of the oldest engineering fields. It is the discipline of engineering that deals with the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructures such as bridges, roads, canals, dams, airports, sewage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings and railways. It can be an exciting field for individuals with a scientific interest and those who are particularly interested in natural materials, construction or repair activities.

Environmental engineering

Environmental engineering concerns environment-related issues and aims for the sustainable development of living beings and environmental protection. It includes broader topics such as biology, chemistry, hydrology, geology, ecology and mathematics. The goal of the entire discipline is to find solutions that improve the quality of the environment and ensure a balance in nature.

Geotechnical engineering

Geotechnical engineering is a discipline under civil engineering that includes the study of engineering behaviour of earth materials. This field examines the behaviour of soil and rock in the context of engineering. It is important in the designing of foundations, retaining walls, building earth dams, military activities, mining, petroleum and offshore construction.

Structural engineering

Structural engineering is the subfield of civil engineering that deals with the structural integrity and strength of a structure or building. It includes the understanding and prediction of how structures resist and support external loads and self-weight. Structural engineers ensure the safety, security and stability of structures throughout their use.

Related: What Is a Structural Engineer? (With Duties and Salary)

Transport engineering

Transport engineering involves the study of the application of scientific and technical principles into planning, functional designing, operating and managing transportation facilities. The transportation facilities include any means of transport such as road, rail, water and air. Transport engineers focus on building safe, fast, convenient and comfortable transport systems for people and goods.

Hydraulics and water resources engineering (HWRE)

HWRE focus on the flow and conveyance of fluids, primarily water. It is a sub-discipline of civil engineering that involves the use of fluid mechanics principles to deal with the storage, transport, management and utility of water. The application of this engineering field involves designing hydraulic structures and the management of waterways.

Chemical engineering

Chemical engineering is the field of engineering that involves the study of the operation and design of chemicals, plants, chemical processing and methods to improve production. Chemical engineers work in labs and factories to experiment, ensure safety and maximise production. They develop the processes to convert chemicals, raw materials and microorganisms into useful products.

Biomolecular engineering

Biomolecular engineering deals with the study of proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and lipids in the context of engineering. It involves the application of engineering principles to manipulate biomolecules. Biomolecular engineers combine their biological and chemical knowledge to find molecular-level solutions to life sciences-related problems.

Materials engineering

Material engineering is concerned with creating substance considering high resistance and improving material quality and durability. Material engineers work in almost every industry, including cosmetics and appliances. They focus on making things durable, smaller, lighter, functional, reliable, sustainable and economical.

Molecular engineering

Molecular engineering deals with the study of designing and testing molecular properties and behaviour to gather better systems, materials and processes for particular functions. Molecular engineering also involves creating new molecular structures with specific characteristics that may not exist in nature. It focuses on creating molecules that can be stable in a range of conditions.

Process engineering

Process engineering primarily deals with the knowledge and application of the basic principles and laws of nature that allow the transformation of raw material into useful products at an industrial level. It focuses on the sustainable and technological development of products. Process engineers design, manage and optimise industrial processes and machinery in the manufacturing industry.

Corrosion engineering

Corrosion engineering is a specialised field of engineering that uses an engineering approach to design and implement materials, structures, devices and systems to manage corrosion. Its application is to prevent material deterioration and damage due to corrosion. It is used to improve the quality and life of vital structures, buildings, pipelines and other important assets to improve safety.

Electrical engineering

Electrical engineering covers the study of electricity and its behaviour. It designs, develops and tests electrical equipment such as electric motors, navigation systems, communications systems or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers design and develop electrical systems for a variety of important industries.

Electronic engineering

Electronic engineering is a sub-discipline of electrical engineering that deals with the electronic circuits, devices and systems that use them. It focuses on the uses of the electromagnetic spectrum. It covers designing, building and testing electronic circuits and their components.

Computer engineering

Computer engineering is the engineering field that combines the knowledge of computer science and electronic engineering to develop computer and their parts. It includes analysis, design and development of computer hardware and software. Computer engineers work on every aspect of designing computers, including the design of microcontrollers to circuit design.

Power engineering

Power engineering compromises the generation, transmission and circulation of electric power. It includes the design and development of electrical devices such as generators, motors and transformers. Power engineers design, renovate and maintain various electrical power generation systems.

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineering deals with the study of objects and systems in motion. It comprises designing, developing, manufacturing and testing mechanical systems such as tools, engines and machines. The discipline is extremely critical for several manufacturing and industrial processes.

Related: How To Become a Mechanical Engineer

Manufacturing engineering

Manufacturing engineering deals with the improvement in the production of an item either through product design changing or making an effective manufacturing process. It focuses on developing an integrated system of production to get high-quality and economical products. Manufacturing engineers develop solutions to solve pointed production problems.

Thermal engineering

Thermal engineering is a sub-discipline of mechanical engineering that studies heat and temperature. It includes thermodynamics and the conversion of heat into different energies. This field of engineering comprises planning, designing and maintenance of heating and cooling systems.

Automobile engineering

Automobile engineering is the study of the design, manufacturing and mechanical mechanisms of automobiles. It also includes the operation of automobiles and their engineering sub-systems. Automobile engineers undertake the designing, manufacturing and testing of vehicles from the conceptual to the production stage.

Power plant engineering

Power plant engineering is a division of power engineering and is defined as the engineering and technology required for the production of central station electric power. This field focuses on power generation through various renewable and non-renewable sources. A power plant engineer oversees the daily operations in a power plant and ensures efficiency and output.

Energy engineering

Energy engineering focuses on increasing efficiency and developing renewable sources of engineering. This field of engineering deals with facility management, plant engineering, energy services, sustainable energy and renewable energy technology. Energy engineers find solutions to improve energy consumption and make devices energy-efficient.

Software engineering

Software engineering is the engineering discipline primarily concerned with software development using computing and engineering approaches. It involves the evolution of software products using defined scientific principles, techniques and procedures. Software engineers build, improve and maintain software solutions, tools and products.

Related: What Is Software Engineering? Complete Guide

Information technology engineering

Information technology engineering or information engineering is a software engineering field that deals with designing and developing information systems. It involves manipulating information and data using computers, networks, storage and other technical infrastructures. Its application involves testing, configuring and troubleshooting hardware, software and networking systems.

Web engineering

Web engineering is a field of engineering that focuses on using systematic approaches for the successful development, deployment and upkeep of complex web applications. It is concerned with the techniques, methods and tools that are building blocks of complex web application development. Web engineers design app functionalities, develop network communication systems and build smart user interfaces and websites.

Other Common Engineering Fields

There are several other specialised and important engineering disciplines:

  • Agricultural engineering

  • Applied engineering

  • Biomedical engineering

  • Biological engineering

  • Building services engineering

  • Information engineering

  • Industrial engineering

  • Engineering management

  • Military engineering

  • Mining engineering

  • Nanoengineering

  • Nuclear engineering

  • Quantum engineering

  • Textile engineering

  • Systems engineering

  • Supply chain engineering

  • Railway engineering

  • Project engineering

  • Petroleum engineering


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