Glossary - Engineering

To research your course options at different universities, visit our participating universities' websites. 

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers focus on the design, construction and operation of aerospace vehicles, propulsion systems and aircraft. This includes jets, gliders, missiles, planes, helicopters and even spacecraft. They are responsible for research, development of materials, maintenance, safety and environmental controls.

Aerospace engineers can find work in the aerospace industry, assessing aircraft for flight characteristics, performance and safety standards. They may also work for commercial airlines, manufacturers and government defence and research agencies.

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers deal with conservation and development of natural resources such as soil, water, land, rivers and forests. They develop sustainable solutions for problems such as soil erosion and salinity, and develop better methods of farming and forestry, such as improved machinery and irrigation systems.

Agricultural Engineers are often employed in departments that deal with issues such as water supply or environmental protection, or work with companies who work with farming and food processing.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers apply engineering knowledge to the life sciences of medicine and biology. This allows them to create new systems, devices, instrumentation and software that can support and enhance quality of life for humans, aid in medical procedure, and help people with physical disabilities. Examples include implants, prosthetics and life-saving equipment in hospitals. 

Biomedical engineers work in the health sector, such as hospitals, or within the health industry.

Building Services Engineer

These engineers focus on the internal systems within buildings. They design heating, air-conditioning, electric lighting and power, water and gas supply, plumbing and drainage systems. They work on security and safety systems as well as internal communication systems such as telephones, intercoms, computers, lifts and escalators.

Chemical/Biochemical Engineer

Chemical engineers change raw materials into useful and sellable products by altering the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance. They can then produce food, petrol, plastic, paints, paper, ceramics, minerals and metals. They also use cutting edge technology to produce foods and pharmaceuticals, such as penicillin and shampoo using chemical engineering methods.

Chemical engineers may work in the mining industry, for petrol companies or for companies that produce food or other materials.

Read graduate Sara's professional profile about being a Chemical Engineer in the mining industry.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers are responsible for the design, construction, operation and improvement of the built environment which include systems and structures. These include systems such as roads, sewerage, gas, and structures such as bridges, towers and buildings.

It is the responsibility of the civil engineer to produce economical and safe structures in a sustainable manner to reduce environmental impact.

Geotechnical engineering is a branch of Civil Engineering.

Coastal and Ocean Engineering

The work of a Coastal and Ocean Engineer focuses on where land and sea meet and also the open ocean environment. They have strong skills in understanding these changing natural environments. Their work ensure that any coastal work is safe and ecologically sustainable . They often work as consulting engineers, project managers or construction contractors in the private sector or in specialised government organisations and universities teaching and conducting research.

Computer Systems Engineer

Computer Systems engineering involves the study, development and application of computer technology. Computer Systems engineers work with networks and communications and control systems. They work with large computer systems, through to desktops, televisions or mobile phones, and must understand all aspects of computing.

Computer Systems engineers could work in computing, automation, or other service sectors such as banking.

Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineers work on producing electrical energy for all different uses in houses, schools, industry, shops and other buildings. They design and build systems that generate, transmit, measure, control and use electric energy for computers, telephones and television. They also find new and different ways to generate electricity.

There is no limit to the companies an electrical engineer can work for, from power stations to telecommunications to computer software design companies.

Electronic Engineer

Electronic engineers, design, test and implement the circuits and systems at the heart of every electronic device. Our modern information rich and massively interconnected society couldn't exist without their skills and creativity, and the pace of change is ever increasing.

From your mobile phone and computer through to industrial control systems, radar systems, robotics, signal processing, sustainable power management*, telecommunications, automotive instrumentation and control, biomedical monitoring and imagining systems, network hardware, and wireless systems, electronic engineers play a part in making all these things work.

Using small electrical components, such as, resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes and transistors, electronic engineers may construct their circuits and systems on a printed circuit board or inside an integrated circuit (“silicon chip”). Electronic circuits typically operate at low voltages and can be as small as a few components or as large as many millions.

* Electronic engineers may have many different specialisations / titles e.g.  see Grid Automation Engineer (research it on Wikipedia).

Read graduate Peter's professional profile about being a Grid Automation Engineer  in the power generation and distribution sector.

Read graduate Dev's professional profile about being an Electronic Engineer designing solutions to hazardous areas.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers apply science and engineering principles to improve the natural environment – air, water and land resources. They focus on issues such as wastewater treatment, water management and erosion controls. They also work on combating existing environmental damage.

Environmental engineers work with biologists, ecologists and resource managers to develop environmentally friendly solutions.

Geotechnical Engineer

Geotechnical engineering is a branch of civil engineering. It is all about engineering the ground using the behaviour of soils and rocks. Geotechnical engineers do things like design foundations for bridges and buildings, build dams and ports, analyse slope stability (to avoid or stop landslides would be one example), build tunnels, and retaining walls. They can also work in the mines, and can do work to reduce natural hazards as well as for construction.

Grid Automation Engineer

What's a Grid Automation Engineer? (research it on Wikipedia). Also, see our glossary entries for Electronic Engineer and Renewable Energy Engineer. 

Marine Engineer

Marine Engineers design, test and improve machinery and equipment that is used at sea. This includes water vessels such as industrial ships, as well as infrastructure in ports, harbours and oil rigs.

This is a small and specialised field of engineering undergoing rapid change by the use of computers to monitor engine rooms.

Materials Engineer

Material engineers test how materials behave under different environments: when heated, under pressure, or when joined with other materials (metals, plastics, rubber, timber, and ceramics). They aim to create stronger, lightweight and fire resistant materials as well as develop new materials and improve existing materials. They deal with the manufacture, structure and development of new and improved ways of recycling.

Materials engineers work in diverse areas, including steelworks, aluminium plants and companies involved with alloy research.

Mechanical/ Manufacturing Engineer

Mechanical engineers design, create and improve systems and machinery used for all different purposes, such as household appliances, industrial machinery, air-conditioning, aircraft and ships. They look at how energy is turned into power and motion in hydraulics, air-pressure systems and heat energy transfer.

Mechanical engineers often work for industrial companies designing systems and machines that generate power, make products and move things.

Mechatronics Engineer

Mechatronic engineering is an emerging engineering discipline. It combines mechanical, electrical, electronic and computer software engineering. This combination means mechatronic engineers have a distinct skill set that is sought after, as their knowledge is multi-disciplinary.

Mechatronic engineers can work in a range of industries including manufacturing, medicine and the service industries. Some specialise in robots and automated systems.

Mineral/ Metallurgy Engineer

Mineral engineers turn raw material of low value into valuable and useable products, such as changing bauxite into aluminium. They also combine metals and non-metals to make new materials that are light, strong, durable and heat resistant for use in cars, boats, jets and spacecraft.

Minerals engineers work on mining sites as well as in the offices of mining companies. Many mines are located in remote areas and mining engineers often travel and live in non-urban areas.

Mining Engineer

Mining engineers develop the most efficient methods for mining, which is the extraction and processing of minerals from the environment, including ores and fuels such as coal. They plan the most cost effective and safest way of removing minerals from grounds, rivers and sea beds. They may also design, install and supervise mining machinery.

Mining engineers can work on mining sites or in head offices, often in non-urban and remote areas, and often work with geologists. There is a large range of career options from research to management.

Renewable Energy Engineer

Renewable energy engineers work on finding new solutions for sustainable use of the energy that we need, to ensure long-term survival of our planet. They investigate different energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro energy, and how they can be used effectively.

These engineers find work in both small and large scale power generation and distribution companies, e.g. as a Grid Automation Engineer (link to Wikipedia), as well as in long-term environmental planning, which is extremely important to energy sustainability.

Read graduate Peter's professional profile about being a Grid Automation Engineer  in the power generation and distribution sector.

Resource Engineer

Resource engineers design and develop more efficient ways to use natural resources and manage the environment in rural areas. Their work may include irrigation systems for farming, soil conversation, conservation of water and land resources. They may also carry out the assessment and control of water pollution.

Resource engineers are employed by the civil engineering, mining and construction industries, as well as by the government.

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