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What do Engineers Do?Continued...This process applies to the development of many different products, such as chemicals, computers, power plants, helicopters, and toys.In addition to design and development, many engineers work in testing, production, or maintenance. These engineers supervise production in factories, determine the causes of component failure, and test manufactured products to maintain quality. They also estimate the time and cost to complete projects. Supervisory engineers are responsible for major components or entire projects

What do Engineers Do?Engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems. Their work is the link between scientific discoveries and the commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs.Many engineers develop new products. During this process, they consider several factors. For example, in developing an industrial robot, engineers precisely specify the functional requirements; design and test the robot’s components; integrate the components to produce the final design; and evaluate the design’s overall effectiveness, cost, reliability, and safety.

The types of Engineers.Most engineers specialize. Following are details on the 17 engineering specialties covered in the Federal Government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Numerous other specialties are recognized by professional societies, and each of the major branches of engineering has numerous subdivisions. Civil engineering, for example, includes structural and transportation engineering, and materials engineering includes ceramic, metallurgical, and polymer engineering. Engineers also may specialize in one industry, such as motor vehicles, or in one type of technology, such as turbines or semiconductor materials.

Engineer SalaryCivil engineers earned a median salary of $80,770 in 2013, according to the BLS. The highest-paid 10 percent in the profession made $126,190, while the lowest-paid earned $51,810 in 2013. The most highly compensated positions are within the industries of oil and gas extraction, and the highest-paid positions are located in Midland, Texas; Hinesville, Georgia; and Houston.

Future EngineersThe National Academy of Engineering asks an important question: Does it serve “the nation well to permit the engineering profession and engineering education to lag technology and society? Rather, should the engineering profession anticipate needed advances and prepare for a future where it will provide more benefit to humankind? Likewise, should engineering education evolve to do the same?” To prepare the engineer of 2020 for that challenging future, the NAE undertook an in-depth study of how engineering education would have to change. The bachelor’s degree should be considered a pre-engineering or “engineer in training” degree.University education should produce engineers who can both define and solve problems.Engineering undergraduate programs should introduce interdisciplinary learning and use case studies of both engineering successes and failures as a learning tool.


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