Selecting an Engineering Program
A Wide Array of Disciplines
Engineering education is drawing record numbers of students to the United States from around the globe with good reason. Those with an engineering education possess the ability to make a real difference in their world, whether it be a local environmental improvement project, designing and developing artificial organs, or designing vehicles of the future for a major manufacturer. The broad range of careers available to engineers, and the rising demand for those with technical knowledge, make those with an engineering degree highly desirable to employers.
Students interested in studying engineering should have begun their preparation while still in high school so that they can proceed with their degree program "on-track." Students should have sufficient background courses including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, physics and chemistry.
When trying to decide which engineering program best meets your needs or interests, you may want to take part in an exploratory program while in high school. Many universities and colleges in the United States offer workshops and summer programs geared specifically toward high school students. Students may stay in the residence halls, experience campus life and get exposure to various engineering fields. Some programs focus on specific engineering areas where by participants have a more in-depth experience working in laboratories and even visiting area companies for tours.
Another suggestion for preparation is to tour companies in your hometown or country that employ engineers. Ask questions about what types of engineers they employ. Knowing what employers want is one of the keys to a successful job search after you obtain your degree. Keeping abreast of the needs of business and industry is also something that universities and colleges strive for to ensure the education that they are providing will be useful to today's society and beyond.
One aspect of education at American universities on which international students often comment is the freedom to express their ideas in classroom or laboratory discussions as well as their access to faculty. One of the things to investigate when choosing a university is the student-to-faculty ratio, which can give you some indication of how much individual attention you can expect. Another aspect is whether the university utilizes teaching assistants, who are usually graduate students.
Because English is often not the first language of the international student, it is important to inquire as to the services available at a university that will help you succeed. Students may wish to improve their English language skills through grammar instruction, vocabulary building, pronunciation, and conversational skills.
In addition, information, advice, and support are offered to help students adapt to American culture and campus life.
If you, like many international students, are interested in gaining some relevant work experience while in college, you will need to ask questions about the strength of a university's internship program. Having some work experience in the engineering field not only increases your marketability after graduation but also helps you build important relationships with business and industry. These arrangements are made after you are enrolled and attending school.
Choosing An Engineering Program
Whatever engineering discipline you choose, an engineering education is recognized as an excellent preparation for a wide spectrum of career choices. Some engineers choose to work in a research setting and some work in the manufacturing sector. Others augment their education with a business background to join the ranks of management or start their own high-tech company. Moreover, engineering is an excellent base of knowledge from which students often springboard into studying business, law or medicine. This range is possible because of the breadth of subjects that an undergraduate engineering degree program provides in the areas of arts, social sciences, history, and humanities.
- Aerospace Engineering includes work in the aircraft and parts and guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing industries. They design, analyze, model, simulate, and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, missiles, and rockets. Aerospace engineers also apply their knowledge to related fields such as automated mass transportation, bioengineering, medical systems, environmental engineering, and communications.
- Architectural Engineering can be defined as a collection of disciplines related to the technical aspects of building design and construction. Students learn how to apply knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences to the development of ways to use the materials and forces of nature in the engineering design and construction of buildings and their environmental systems. Architectural engineers work in every stage of the building process from design concepts and structural integrity to building operating systems and overall functionality.
- Biomedical Engineering combines engineering expertise with medical needs for the enhancement of health care. The field attracts students who have a deep concern for people as well as the sciences and technologies that might be used to help them; prefer activities that relate to machines, methods, and processes of medicine; enjoy biology, anatomy and physiology as much as math, physics and chemistry. Biomedical engineers areresearch facilities of educational and medical institutions.
- Chemical Engineering applies the principles of chemistry and engineering to solve problems involving the production or use of chemicals. Chemical engineers use their knowledge of chemistry to discover and manufacture better plastics, paints, fuels, fibers, medicines, food and beverages, fertilizers, semiconductors, paper, and all other kinds of chemicals by carrying out chemical reactions and purifications. Chemical engineers work in a variety of settings including industry, laboratories, universities, consulting firms, engineering firms, law offices, and government agencies.
- Civil Engineering is the art and science of designing the infrastructure of a modern civilized society. Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems.
- COMPUTER ENGINEERING programs are geared toward the design and application of computer systems, balancing hardware and software by integrating electrical engineering hardware topics with computer science software subjects. This broad background enables the computer engineer to contribute to the design, implementation, testing, maintenance and application of computer-based systems, from tiny embedded processors to large database and network servers.
- ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING is one of the broadest and largest branch of the engineering profession. It covers new rapidly growing areas such as signal processing, artificial intelligence, fiber optic communications, and microcomputers as well as traditional areas such as circuits, controls, power, electromagnetics and instrumentation. Digital phones, personal computers and Global Positioning Systems are just a few of the high technology products that electrical engineers have developed.
- INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING involves the integration of the resources of business and industry — the design of systems of materials, equipment and machines, procedures, information, energy, and people. Industrial engineering programs combine human relations with the technical knowledge needed to solve challenges in organization, process planning and evaluation, cost analysis, and quality control. Because of its high degree of interaction with people, the field tends to attract students with strong social and communication skills including those who: prefer activities that involve both technical and business aspects.
- MECHANICAL ENGINEERING covers the design, development, analysis, control and testing of machines for converting energy from one form to another and for performing useful work. Students learn the fundamentals such as mechanics, thermodynamics heat transfer, electronic instrumentation and measurement, controls, and design. The field tends to attract students who enjoy activities involved with machines and other mechanical devices; can apply mathematical principles and basic principles of physics to projects; and who are able to direct projects.
- SOFTWARE ENGINEERING is the application of engineering concepts, techniques, and methods to the development of software systems. Software engineering is based on computer science. However, it emphasizes process, design, measurement, analysis and verification, providing a strong foundation in engineering principles and practice as applied to software development. Because of the inherently social nature of contemporary software development, communication skills and teamwork are important.
Whatever discipline or university you choose, an engineering education is something that you will draw upon throughout your life as you pursue personal and professional fulfillment. Because of the accelerated evolution of technology, it is also important for engineers to continually enhance their knowledge base through continuing education and professional courses.