Engineering majors broken down for you

The Career Center @ Engineering (CC@E) has broken down the different areas of engineering to help you understand career opportunities and paths within this broad field.

Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering

The world of aerospace engineering is dynamic and forward-driven as it addresses the needs of commercial and military systems in both the aero and space worlds. Aero Engineers design, develop, test and produce jet fighters, spaceships, rockets, planes, satellites – essentially any craft that soars through or above the atmosphere. Aerospace technology also has “earthbound” applications that can be applied to making race cars or golf balls more aerodynamic.

Where do Aero Engineers work? Aerospace companies, Airline companies, Automobile Manufacturers, NASA, Departments of Defense or Energy, and Commercial Space Operations.

Other related disciplines may include: Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering


Bioengineering addresses unmet challenges that make a difference in the world and is one of the fastest-growing engineering disciplines. From helping to conquer deadly diseases to possibly enabling the paralyzed to regain use of their limbs, bioengineers apply quantitative solutions to medical problems. Their work can range from diagnostic tools and therapies to artificial organs and prosthetics.

Where do they work? Pharmaceutical companies, Medical Equipment and Instrument Manufacturers, Biotechs, Academic Research, and Startup companies.

Other related disciplines may include: Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers study, design and operate processes to provide food, water, energy, clothing, medicine and materials. These processes transform raw materials from the environment into desired products. They also return spent products and by-products to the environment in an ecologically sustainable manner. The advances of chemical engineering can be found all around us: from innovations and improvements that lead to new medicines, electronic devices, and high-performance materials to new technologies for cleaning the environment and feeding and clothing the world’s people.

Where do they work? Pharmaceutical companies, Food Industry, Chemical companies, Energy, Pulp and Paper, Manufacturing, State or Federal Environmental Health and Safety Agencies.

Other related disciplines may include: Materials Science & Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Bioengineering, Petroleum Engineering

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Civil and environmental engineers plan, design, construct, and manage the essential facilities, systems, and structures that are all around us—from buildings and bridges to water treatment and transit systems. Using sophisticated tools at the forefront of technology, engineers in our field work together with diverse partners to address the critical problems of tomorrow in the face of increasing population and mounting environmental challenges.

Where do they work? Engineering/Construction/Architectural Firms, Environmental Specialists, Rail and Ground Transportation Groups, Power Generators, Public Works, Federal Government, Environmental Engineering/Consulting Firms, EPA, Advocacy Groups

Other related disciplines may include: Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Agricultural Engineering

Computer Science & Engineering

The rise of the internet has heralded computer applications that have become part of our daily lives. New products have been developed that allow each of us to carry a computing device in our pockets that has as much power as room-sized computers a few decades ago.  These innovations have not only introduced technological change but also social change and new ways of social interaction and the diffusion of information.

Computer scientists build the hardware infrastructure – computers, networks, embedded devices, as well as operating systems, compilers and networking software. There are few other careers where people can design and build a product from scratch or where a product is routinely used by millions of people around the world daily.

Where do they work? Computer/Consumer Electronics Manufacturers, Telecoms, Supercomputer Makers, Software Giants, Solar Energy Providers, Computer-Game companies

Other related disciplines may include: Electrical Engineering, Human Centered Design & Engineering

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers help save lives by designing medical technologies like monitoring devices, surgical robots and lasers; help preserve the environment by developing hybrid electric vehicles and solar or wind power; improve the safety of critical high technology systems by designing anti-skid braking systems and nuclear power plant controls; and reduce human toil in manufacturing with computer automation technologies. Pursue an exciting career and make a difference by helping people worldwide.

Where do they work? Power companies, Microchip Makers, Defense Contractors, Fuel-Cell Manufacturers, Computer-Aided Design Software Makers, Consumer Electronics Companies

Other related disciplines may include: Computer Science & Engineering, Human Centered Design & Engineering, Bioengineering

Human Centered Design & Engineering

Human Centered Design Engineers (HCDE) have a strong foundation in designing user experiences and interfaces, creating information visualizations, conducting user research, designing for the web, and building web technologies. Putting people first, HCDE research, design, and engineer interactions between humans and technology.

Where do they work? Software companies, Major Retailers, Sports Networks, Biotechs, Startups

Other related disciplines may include: Computer Science & Engineering, Engineering Psychology, Human Factors Engineering

Industrial & Systems Engineering

Industrial Engineers are involved with all aspects of manufacturing, including automation, production control and materials handling. They focus on the integration of people, materials, information, equipment, and energy to design, implement, and manage integrated systems to achieve optimum performance. This focus on the big picture makes industrial engineering one of the most people-oriented engineering disciplines.

Where do they work? Defense Contractors, Aerospace, Automotive, Sports Equipment, High-Tech, Consulting, Components, Food, Delivery Services

Other related disciplines may include: Manufacturing Engineering, Systems Engineering, Mechanical Engineering,

Materials Science & Engineering

Materials science and engineering links scientific research with applied engineering to design materials for specialized uses. This field draws upon many areas in both the scientific and engineering realms. From science, the study of physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science each play a part in explaining the origin of unique properties found in a substance. The engineering knowledge and experience of ceramists, metallurgists, electrical, mechanical and chemical engineers are brought to bear in the application of these properties for a required use.

Where do they work?  Composite Materials Industry, Office Technologies, Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Goods, Paper Products, Aerospace, High-Tech, Aluminum Manufacturing, Recycling

Other related disciplines may include: Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, Welding Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest and oldest branches of engineering.  Mechanical engineers are involved with the design, analysis, testing, manufacturing, control, operation, and maintenance of mechanical systems – that is, any system that has a moving part!   Mechanical systems can vary greatly in complexity and magnitude from the valve in an artificial heart to a car engine to a mammoth nuclear power plant.  It deals with all aspects of the conversion of thermal energy into useful work and the machines that make this possible.

Where do they work? Consumer Electronics, Automotive, Appliances, Energy, Aerospace, Medical Devices, Amusement Park Rides, Toys, Nanotechnology

Other related disciplines may include: Industrial Engineering, Civil Engineering, Bioengineering

By Shannon Merchant
Shannon Merchant Career Counselor Shannon Merchant