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Frequently Asked Questions


What is Engineering Science?

Engineering is the professional art of applying science to the optimum conversion of the resources of nature to the uses of humankind. It is based principally on physics, chemistry, and mathematics andtheir extensions into materials science, solid and fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, transfer and rate processes, and systems analysis. A great body of special knowlege is associated with engineering; preparation for professional practice involves extensive training in the application of that knowledge.

How many types of Engineering specialties are there?

Listed below are the 10 most popular branches of engineering (alphabetical):
  • Aerospace
  • Biomedical/Biotechnology
  • Chemical
  • Civil (General & Structural)
  • Computer
  • Electrical & Electronics
  • Environmental
  • Industrial
  • Manfacturing
  • Mechanical

Additionally, there are a host of other, more specialized academic disciplines at select schools.

What is Engineering Technology and how is it different from Engineering?

The best way to answer this question is to look at what graduates of these distinctly different academic programs typically do working on an engineering project in the real world. A standard engineering project involves the design and subsequent production/construction of something to meet a specified need. Engineering graduates - "Engineers" - would principally work on the design, while Engineering Technology graduates - "Engineering Technologists/Technicians" - would principally work on construction-related project issues. Engineering Technology graducates would also typically oversee or conduct tests and measurements to verify construction, and once the project is complete, would be closely involved in operation and maintenance.

Academically, how different is Engineering Technology from Engineering?

Quite different, a fact that is critically important for students to understand upfront. Due to its more applied nature, it is often difficult to transfer credits earned in an Engineering Technology program to an Engineering program. Thus, students should make a careful, conscious choice regarding which academic path they seek to pursue.

A key factor that may come into play in making this choice is the fact that Engineering is relatively much more academically challenging than Engineering Technology - particularly the required math and science courses.

Additionally, it should be noted that while the basic "entry-level" (first) degree offered in Engineering Technology is the two-year Associate's degree, for Engineering, the entry-level degree is the four year Bachelor's degree.

Finally, because of the more applied, hands-on nature of Engineering Technology, the coursework typically consists of a 50/50 mix of classroom lecture and hands-on laboratory experience. In contrast, Engineering students spend by far the bulk of their time taking lecture-based courses.

What types of degree in Engineering Technology do schools offer?

The two basic degrees offered in ET are:

  • Associate's (two-year) degree, considered to be "Career Programs."
  • Bachelor's (four-year) degree, begun in an "Engineering Technology Transfer Program" and completed at a four year technology school.

Students should carefully consider which degree program they wish to pursue. In particular, if you plan to begin with a two-year Associate's degree in ET, and then continue on for a Bachelor's degree in ET at another school, you should carefully check on the ability to transfer credits from one school to another.

What are the major academic disciplines within Engineering Technology?

Like Engineering, Engineering Technology is a wide-ranging field of study with students typically majoring in a specific discipline. For the most part, similar disciplines are found in both Engineering and Engineering Technology. And like Engineering, the three most popular academic disciplines are:

  • Civil Engineering Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Electrical/Electronics Engineering Technology

Beyond the "Big 3" the next most popular academic disciplines in ET are:

  • Architectural Engineering Technology
  • Computer Engineering Technology
  • Construction Engineering Technology
  • Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering Technology

Finally, a host of other, more specialized academic disciplines in ET - such as Environmental ET and Telecommunication ET - can be found at select schools.

What is an "Engineering Transfer" Program?

An "Engineering Transfer" program is a two-year program in engineering - typically offered at a community college - at the end of which students transfer to a four-year college to a complete upper-level engineering coursework and earn a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from that second college. Students are able to earn an Associate's degree in Engineering form the first institution; however, the clear intent of engineering transfer programs is for students to continue on and earn a Bachelor's degree in Engineering. To ease the transfer process, such programs typically have written transfer agreements in place with one or more local four-year colleges.

What do engineers do?

Engineers take abstract ideas and apply science mathematics to build products to meet the needs of mankind.

What do Technicians & Technologists do?

While an Engineer's work often focuses on producing a set of design plans (engineering drawings and specifications, etc.), Engineering Technology graduates focus on helping to bring these plans to life. Engineering Technology involves more practical, hands-on work efforts and activities compared to Engineering.

How many Engineers & Technologists are there?

It is estimated that there are more than four million practicing engineers, technicians and technologists in the United States.

What is the difference between Science and Engineering & Technology?

Science is knowledge based on observed facts and tested truths arranged in an orderly system that can be validated and communicated to other people. Engineering & Technology is the creative application of scientific principles used plan, build, direct, guide, manage, or work on systems to maintain and improve our daily lives.

Has there been an increase or decrease in student enrollment in Engineering & Technology programs at colleges and universities across the country?

According to the Engineering Workforce Commission, between 1985 and 1999, the number of students receiving bachelors of engineering & technology degrees declined by 19.8 percent. However, starting in 1997, freshman engineering class enrollment began to grow, and by 2000, engineering bachelor degrees increased from 19-year low. Over the last decade, enrollment in engineering programs has continued to climb in all degree levels. Yet there still remains a lower percentage of engineers in both the female and minority segments of the population.

What are some of the top U.S. undergraduate engineering schools?

All engineering programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) have met demanding standards and produce excellent engineers. The best school for a particular person is impossible to define on a ranking list. For more information about ABET-accredited engineering schools, go to www.abet.org or www.asee.org.


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