Engineering is the work of designing and building structures, infrastructure, and machines. It is a quintessential applied science, as it harnesses physics, chemistry, and calculus to achieve practical goals such as designing a new museum or a bridge. Learning about engineering is important for understanding the way our world works as well as for developing solutions to make our world work more effectively and efficiently.
Because engineering encompasses such a wide variety of aspects of the built environment, engineers typically become specialized in different areas of the field. Civil engineers, for example, develop public infrastructure such as highways or water treatment systems; mechanical engineers build machines such as electric generators that power our energy systems as well as energy-using equipment such as refrigerators; and electrical engineers are responsible for the design of safe electricity systems for devices and buildings. Engineers may also become project management professionals who supervise the planning and scheduling of delivering on-time engineering projects.
A background in the fundamentals of engineering can be a gateway to an incredibly wide range of careers, depending on what types of engineering problems interest you the most. The Bureau of Labor Statistics profiles many different types of specialized engineering jobs, such as civil engineers, biomedical engineers, electrical engineers, industrial engineers, materials engineers, and more. Most of these jobs are in high demand, and, with median annual salaries in 2019 ranging from $80,720 for agricultural engineers to $116,500 for aerospace engineers, these are all well-paying roles.
Yes, absolutely. Coursera gives you opportunities to learn from top-ranked schools about engineering topics ranging from fundamentals of physics and mathematics to specialized topics in materials science or project management. No matter where in the world you live, you can take individual courses as well as Specializations spanning multiple courses in engineering from schools like Rice University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California, Davis, and University of Michigan. And, because you can learn remotely on a flexible schedule for lower tuition costs than on-campus students, Coursera is a great option for current students as well as mid-career professionals looking to build their engineering skills.
People with strong math and science skills who enjoy working in teams to troubleshoot problems with innovative solutions are best suited for roles in engineering. Engineering can take many forms, but the one thing all branches have in common is the shared goal of finding solutions to problems. People who are task-oriented and interested in finding the most economical and safest solution to a problem are best suited to be an engineer. In addition, engineers need to effectively communicate with colleagues and clients in an office, laboratory, or job site.
One of the most popular career paths for someone in engineering is in the field of mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineers design, create, and test devices for machines and tools. This may include designing devices as varied as medical equipment, air conditioning systems, or elevators. People interested in research and development and manufacturing may consider a career path in electrical engineering. Career paths for people interested in making systems function at the highest capacity may consider jobs in industrial engineering. Civil engineering is a common career path for people who want to work with infrastructure systems. Other career paths for people to consider include chemical, environmental, and nuclear engineering.
Learners interested in human-robotic interfaces and bionic prosthetics may consider studying biomedical engineering topics. People interested in physics, energy, and momentum should check out topics related to mechanics. Topics that explore the basic components of electronics are perfect for learners who want a basic understanding of how common electrical devices work. Those interested in project management and scheduling techniques may consider construction management.
According to Forbes, some of the top places that hire people with a background in engineering are NASA, Google, Boeing, Apple, Microsoft, and Lockheed Martin Corporation. Many civil engineers work for private firms or for state and local governments. Consulting services or government entities may hire environmental or agricultural engineers.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.