Engineering Branches List

List of Engineering Disciplines

Engineering applies science to study and design equipment and processes.
Engineering applies science to study and design equipment and processes. Nicola Tree/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Engineers apply scientific principles to design or develop structures, equipment, or processes. Engineering encompasses several disciplines. Traditionally, the main branches of engineering are chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering, but there are many other areas of specialization.

Key Takeaways: Branches of Engineering

  • Engineering is a huge discipline. In general, an engineer applies scientific knowledge to solve practical problems and design equipment and processes.
  • Engineering students typically study one of the main branches of engineering: chemical, electrical, civil, and mechanical.
  • Many more disciplines are available, with more described over time. Examples include aerospace engineering and computer engineering.

Here is a summary of the main branches of engineering:

Acoustical Engineering

  • Engineering concerned with the analysis and control of vibration, particularly sound vibrations.

Aerospace Engineering

  • Aerospace engineering deals with aeronautics and astronautic engineering, including the design and analysis of aircraft, satellites, and spacecraft.

Agricultural Engineering

  • This branch of engineering deals with farm machinery and structures, natural resources, bioenergy and farm power systems. Sub-disciplines include food engineering, aquaculture, and bioprocess engineering.

Automotive Engineering

  • Automotive engineers are involved in the design, manufacture, and performance of cars and trucks.

Biological Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

  • Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary specialty that applies engineering principles to medical and biological problems and systems. This discipline commonly deals with medical therapies, monitoring devices, and diagnostic tools.

Chemical Engineering

  • Chemical engineering (CE) applies chemistry to develop new materials and processes to convert materials into useful products.

Civil Engineering

  • Civil engineering (CE) is one of the oldest forms of engineering. Civil engineering pertains to the discipline pertaining to the design, construction, analysis, and maintenance of structures, both natural and man-made, including bridge, roads, dams, and buildings. Sub-disciplines of civil engineering may include construction engineering, materials engineering, control engineering, structural engineering, urban engineering, municipal engineering, biomechanics, and surveying.

Computer Engineering

  • Computer engineering integrates computer science with electrical engineering to develop and analyze circuits, microprocessors, and computers. Computer engineers tend to focus more on hardware while software engineers traditionally focus on programming and software design.

Electrical Engineering

  • Electrical engineering (EE) involves the study and application of electricity and electronics. Some consider computer engineering and software engineering to be subdisciplines of electrical engineering. Electronic engineering, optical engineering, power engineering, control engineering, and telecommunications engineering are EE specialities.

Energy Engineering

  • Energy engineering is a multidisciplinary engineering field that integrates aspects of mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering to address alternative energy, energy efficiency, plant engineering, environmental compliance, and related technologies.

Engineering Management

  • Engineering management combines engineering and management principles to develop and assess business practices. These engineers help plan and administrate businesses from their inception through operation. They are involved in product development, design engineering, construction, manufacturing, and marketing.

Environmental Engineering

  • Environmental engineering works to prevent or remediate pollution or to maintain or improve the natural environment. This includes water, land, and air resources. Related disciplines are industrial hygiene and environmental engineering law.

Industrial Engineering

  • Industrial engineering pertains to the design and study of logistics and industrial resources. Types of industrial engineering include safety engineering, construction engineering, manufacturing engineering, textile engineering, reliability engineering, component engineering, and systems engineering.

Manufacturing Engineering

  • Manufacturing engineering designs, studies and develops machines, tool, manufacturing processes, and equipment.

Mechanical Engineering

  • Mechanical engineering (ME) may be considered the mother of all engineering branches. Mechanical engineering applies physical principles and materials science to the design, manufacture, and analysis of mechanical systems.

Mechatronics

  • Mechatronics combines mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, frequently in the analysis of automated systems. Robotics, avionics, and instrumentation engineering may be considered types of mechatronics.

Nanoengineering

  • Nanoengineering is the application of engineering on the vastly miniaturized or nanoscopic scale.

Nuclear Engineering

  • Nuclear engineering is the practical application of nuclear processes, such as those used to produce and harness nuclear power.

Petroleum Engineering

  • Petroleum engineers apply scientific principles to detect, drill and extract crude oil and natural gas. Types of petroleum engineering includes drilling engineering, reservoir engineering, and production engineering.

Structural Engineering

  • Structural engineering pertains to the design and analysis of load-bearing structures and supports. In many cases, this is a subdiscipline of civil engineering, but structural engineering also applies to other structures, such as vehicles and machinery.

Vehicle Engineering

  • Engineering pertaining to design, manufacture, and operation of vehicles and their components. Branches of vehicle engineering include naval architecture, automotive engineering, and aerospace engineering.

There are many more engineering branches, with more being developed all the time as new technologies develop. Many undergraduates start out seeking degrees in mechanical, chemical, civil, or electrical engineering and develop specializations through internships, employment, and advanced education.