The term “Engineering” can simply be defined as the application of mathematics and the physical sciences to the needs of humanity and the development of technology. The term is sometimes more loosely defined, especially in Great Britain, as the manufacture or assembly of engines, machine tools, and machine parts. The words “engine” and “ingenious” are derived from the same Latin root “ingenerare” which means “to create.” These are some of the words which make the current term “engineering”. The early engines of war were devices such as catapults, floating bridges, and assault towers. An Engineer was one and is still one in charge of designing such. However, these engineers cut across a wide range of varieties. 

From the above explanations on the concept of engineering, it can be inferred that Engineering produces Technology through Science. And that although all of these concepts represent individual roles in STEM, however, they are interconnected because they compliment each other. 

Major Differences Between Science and Engineering. 

Despite their obvious similarities, there exists a few thin lines between science and engineering. 

First of all, it is important to note that Engineering is a discipline under Science. Also, the function of the scientist is to observe and know, while that of the engineer is to create the solution to the problem observed by the scientist. Scientists add to the store of verified systematized knowledge of the physical world, and engineers bring this knowledge to bear on practical problems. 

Unlike scientists, engineers are not free to select the problems that interest them. They must solve problems as they arise, and their solutions must satisfy conflicting requirements. Usually, efficiency costs money, safety adds to complexity, and improved performance increases weight.


As earlier said, engineering cuts across a wide range of varieties which includes, but not limited to mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical, electronics, aerospace, computer, environmental, biomedical, petroleum, automotive, structural, agricultural, mining, marine, software, industrial and biotechnological. However, just the more popular varieties would be explained.

Mechanical Engineering: 

Mechanical Engineering is that branch of engineering which combines the knowledge of science, maths and computing to design machines capable of solving mechanical problems and challenges. Mechanical engineers design the world around us through creativity, technical expertise, analytical skills, and a great sense of organisation. 

Their duties and career roles include; the study of machines, researching of mechanical products, developing new machines and technologies, ensuring the safety and productivity of products in certain environments, developing safety measures and equipment to ensure the safe functioning of products and machines, as well as working together with other professionals and engineers in general. To delve into this field of study, an interest in machines or mechanical systems and how they work would be a good start. 

Mechanical Engineering is a wide field of study which houses some areas of specialisation. They are; Aeronautical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. 

Civil Engineering: 

Civil Engineering is concerned with the planning, designing, and development of structures such as roads, bridges or houses and estates on both a large and small scale. A civil engineer combines mathematical problem solving skills with design, IT, and technology skills. Other skills needed include project management skills, leadership skill and communication skills, all of which would help facilitate the management of a project team and eventually, the completion of a project. 

The job of a civil engineer includes, but is not limited to the following; Creation and development of designs using softwares, project budget management, undertaking feasibility studies to ascertain the sustainability and environmental impact of a building, ensuring projects adhere to laid out  requirements, and ensuring projects do not exceed the deadline or budget negotiated. 

Some areas of specialisation in civil engineering include structural engineering and architectural engineering. While structural engineering has to do with the designing of buildings and structures, architectural engineering involves designing the systems of a building, which include structures, acoustics, lighting, and ventilation systems. 

Electrical and Electronics Engineering:

These two subsets of engineering both focus on the application of electrical power. However, electrical engineering is more concerned with production and supply of electrical power, meanwhile electronic engineering focuses more on the smaller electronic components used in devices, computers, televisions, radios and the likes. 

Good electrical and electronics engineers possess a combination of technical and project management skills, as they would be required to work with other stakeholders and professionals on large projects. Other competencies required include analytical skills, attention to details, commercial awareness of the electrical/electronic sector, knowledge of coding and programming language, as well as the ability to translate engineering parlance to clients for clarity and better understanding. 

An electrical engineer can be found doing the following jobs; design of electrical systems and products, service and maintenance of equipment, design and conduct tests on or with electrical equipment, and analyse, record, and interpret test data. 

Electronic engineers on the other hand work with electronic components and devices through conception to final manufacturing and implementation. 

Electrical/Electronic engineers could choose to major in the following areas of specialisation; Computer engineering, Robotics engineering, Communications and the media, and Power generation and supply. 

Chemical Engineering:

Chemical Engineering is that branch of engineering that combines the knowledge from chemistry, physics and life sciences, to produce new and useful materials and products. This field also requires knowledge on mathematics and economics. A chemical engineer is basically responsible for the designing, developing, producing and managing of industrial processes which transform raw materials to useful products. Such an engineer would easily find him/herself in manufacturing industries such as food and drinks, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, plastics, the oil and gas industry, etc. 

Needless to say, some skill sets are definitely required to thrive in this field of engineering. They include; a good chemistry/life science experience, business exposure, resource and project management skills, problem solving abilities and good communication skills. 

The duties of a chemical engineer include, but are not limited to the following; experimentation of raw materials, design and installation of new products, as well as the modification of existing ones. Chemical engineers also ensure the environmental safety of the production process. 

Chemical Engineering houses a number of fields of specialisation, which include Environmental Engineering, Process Engineering, Agricultural Engineering, and Chemical Reaction Engineering. 

Petroleum Engineering: 

This is Engineering relating to the methods and procedures involved in the production and extraction of petroleum products from deep down beneath the earth surface. A petroleum engineer is one who creates, develops and improves on machines and strategies useful for a more effective drilling experience. Petroleum Engineering requires a good knowledge of physics and chemical processes, or chemical engineering. Other skills required to thrive here include, but are not limited to the following;  mathematical skills, analytical skills and problem solving skills. 

Being a petroleum engineer would involve creating new and reliable tools and methods of extracting petroleum products, improving strategies on how to drill gas fields for maximum results, developing avenues on how to create more petroleum products from previously dug reserves, maintenance of field equipment, and carrying out research and tests on oil fields. 

More often than not, it is easy to see a petroleum engineer get hired on the following related companies; Oil and gas extraction organisations, mining companies, petroleum and coal producing companies, and engineering and repairs service stations.

Overall Engineering functions

Problem solving is common to all works of engineering. The problem may involve quantitative or qualitative factors; it may be physical or economic; it may require abstract mathematics or common sense. Of great importance is the process of creative synthesis or design, putting ideas together to create a new and optimum solution.

Although engineering problems vary in scope and complexity, the same general approach is applicable. First comes an analysis of the situation and a preliminary decision on a plan of attack. In line with this plan, the problem is reduced to a more categorical question that can be clearly stated. The stated question is then answered by deductive reasoning from known principles or by creativity, as in a new design. The answer or design is always checked for accuracy and adequacy. Finally, the results for the simplified problem are interpreted in terms of the original problem and reported in an appropriate form.

The major functions of all engineering branches are the following:

Research: The engineer seeks new principles and processes by carrying out research through mathematical and scientific concepts, experimental techniques, and inductive reasoning. 

Design: After carrying out research, the next step would be to create a design. In designing a structure or a product, the engineer selects methods, specifies materials, and determines shapes to satisfy technical requirements and to meet performance specifications. This is carried out by the design engineer. 

Development. While developing the design, engineers apply the results of research to useful purposes. Creative application of new knowledge may result in a working model of a new electrical circuit, a novel chemical process, or an industrial machine. The development engineer is in charge of this. 

Construction. The construction engineer is responsible for preparing the site, determining procedures that will economically and safely yield the desired quality, directing the placement of materials, and organising the personnel and equipment.

Production. Plant layout and equipment selection are the responsibility of the production engineer, who chooses processes and tools, integrates the flow of materials and components, and provides for testing and inspection.

Operation. The operating engineer controls machines, plants, and organisations providing power, transportation, and communication. Such engineers determine procedures; and supervise personnel to obtain reliable and economic operation of complex equipment.

Management and other functions. In some countries and industries, engineers analyse customers’ requirements, recommend units to satisfy needs economically, and resolve related problems.


Here, we would try to understand what the fuss is about Engineering

It Is Relevant to STEM Education: If STEM were to be a body, engineering would be its heart. In our bodies, blood goes into the heart then gets pumped out to reach vital organs. In STEM, scientific data goes into the engineering process where it gets calculated out to become technology. This metaphor is more powerful at the educational phase of STEM, due to the fact that STEM education integrates the disciplines to form a foundation for a future career. Classroom STEM projects often include using scientific data to mathematically design something that solves a problem.

By its nature, engineering can be seen as the bridge that connects STEM. Without some form of engineering, there would be no technology so science would just be science and maths would still just be maths.

Engineering Plays a Crucial Role In STEM Jobs: We have determined that engineering is very important to STEM education. Knowing that STEM jobs narrow down to a particular field, does engineering still hold on to that same importance at this more focused point of the STEM path?

The short answer is no but it varies with the increasingly large number of STEM jobs and it depends on how you look at it. A scientist’s job may require some engineering to help find further data but it would be a small part concerning their main focus. The same goes for mathematicians.

Last modified: Sunday, 18 December 2022, 4:14 PM