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E n g i n e e r i n g  S c h o o l

Engineering Programs

The study of engineering in the United States remains a popular choice among students from all over the globe. This desire for a quality engineering education arises from real needs to solve important problems at the local, regional, national, and the global levels. Such critical problems as: developing new energy sources, improving productivity of manufacturing processes, and development of affordable environmental controls are—for the most part—engineering problems. In addition to the excellent engineering education, many international students choose education in the United States because of the academic freedom and progress toward inclusiveness. All ideas and beliefs can be given free expression and advocacy.

Engineers occupy an intermediary position between the scientists and the public because, in addition to applying scientific principles to solve problems, they are concerned with the timing, economics, and values that define the use and application of those principles. With this broad responsibility in mind, the employment demand for engineering graduates is predicted to remain strong.

Engineering Education

The first two years of an engineering education are designed to lay a strong foundation in mathematics, physical sciences, and the engineering sciences. Course requirements for the first year do not differ by very much, regardless of the specific engineering program. Second year course requirements are about 75% common among all of the programs. This affords students considerable flexibility in choosing a particular engineering program.

During the last two years the students must complete a required set of upper level engineering core courses in the selected major and a fixed number of technical elective courses. The curricula provide a blend of required courses and electives for each major, which allow students to pursue their interests without the risk of overspecialization.

Students graduate with the skills and knowledge base necessary for success as professional engineers. Moreover, there is growing recognition that an engineering education is an excellent preparation for a wide spectrum of careers in other areas such as business, law, and medicine. This range is possible because an engineering education in the U.S. provides breadth in subjects outside engineering and technical electives. This includes humanities, the arts, social sciences, and history.

Engineering Programs

There are more than thirty accredited engineering programs and more than three hundred engineering schools in the United States. The largest program is in electrical engineering (includes electronic). This is followed by mechanical, civil, chemical and computer engineering. The next largest programs are industrial, aerospace (includes aeronautics and astronautics), environmental and general engineering. This is based upon data taken from the 66th ABET Annual Report of 1997-1998 Engineering Accreditation Commission.

Electrical engineering, with programs at two hundred and seventy-three institutions, is the largest of all engineering disciplines. Focus areas include communication and computer systems, control systems, electro-magnetic, microelectronics, and power systems. Within these areas are sub-areas of study including solid state electronics, integrated circuits, lasers, computer design, power, communications, digital signal processing and antenna design.

Mechanical Engineering is the second largest engineering discipline. It prepares students in the traditional fundamentals such as solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics heat transfer, materials, electronic instrumentation and measurements, controls and designs. These fundamentals are used in the design and production of internal combustion engines, diesel engines, turbine engines, pressure valves and piping, air conditioners, heating systems, refrigeration systems, machine tools, automobiles, aircraft, trains, copying machines, and staplers.

Civil Engineering offers programs of study in planning, design construction and operation of large, complex systems. These include buildings and bridges, water purification and distribution systems, highways, rapid transit and rail systems, ports and harbors, airports, tunnels and underground construction, dams, power generating stations, and structural components of aircraft and ships. Civil engineering also includes urban and city planning, water and land pollution, and treatment problems.

Chemical Engineering deals with the efficient operation of the complete chemical plant or its components: with the engineering services required for improving and understanding products produced, with the sales and economic distribution of the plant products; and with the management of process industry plants and industrial complexes.

Computer Engineering encompasses the study of hardware systems (electrical networks, electronics and very large integrated circuits); software systems (algorithms, data structures, and operating systems); and interaction of hardware and software systems (digital logic, signal and system theory, computer architectural and performance analysis).

Engineering School Selection

Schools in the United States value the international students' contribution to the student body. Therefore, applications from prospective international students are welcomed. However, it is important to meet application deadlines. The admission requirements and application procedures vary from institution to institution.

Application forms may be obtained by writing or sending an e-mail to the institution's undergraduate admissions office. In many cases the application may also be requested and submitted on-line via the World Wide Web.

Students interested in studying engineering may apply for direct admission to their school of choice. However, these students should have started their preparation for pursuing an engineering degree while still in high school. This preparation would include algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus. In addition, students should complete one year each of physics and chemistry.

If students are deficient in their high school preparation, direct admission into the engineering program could be denied. However, indirect admission options are available. Some engineering schools have formed partnerships with non-engineering colleges and universities. Students participating in a partnership program spend the first three years at one of the non-engineering institutions and then transfer to the engineering school for the last two years.

In addition to these four year institutions, engineering colleges in some cases have articulation agreements with community colleges. Students generally transfer after two years at a community college. While attending a non-engineering university or community college, the students can prepare for the pursuit of an engineering degree by successfully completing a partnership or articulated program.

After Graduation

It is important to understand that an undergraduate engineering education is only one step in a lifetime of learning. The engineering field evolves at a rapid rate. Thus, engineers must be prepared for a lifetime of learning. Many students will find that graduate engineering education is an important step to realizing their professional and personal goals.

Whatever school you may select, have a successful experience as an engineering student. Upon graduation you will be prepared to serve the emerging needs of society.


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Updated: April 30, 2007.