Engineering is one of the many fields of study commonly taught in the contemporary college and university education frameworks. Engineering entails the systematic use of scientific, empirical, mathematical, social, technological, and economical methods and systems to build, create, invent, organize, operate, and develop tools, machines, equipment, structures, and processes. Engineering aims at maximizing the use of alternative processes and entities in substituting human effort and energy in the production, transportation, operation of systems, infrastructural arrangement, and lifestyle development. This essay discusses the peculiarities of the most prominent branches of engineering that include civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and biomedical engineering and provides a personal opinion in these fields.
Branches of Engineering
Civil engineering, as one of the professional branches of engineering profession and discipline of study, deals with the development, improvement, design, and construction of infrastructure in the natural environment. Most of the structures built, designed, and maintained by civil engineers include roads, buildings, man-made dams, bridges, and railways. Civil engineering is also a broad term that may encompass many other emerging and old forms of engineering including architectural engineering, forensic engineering, water engineering, urban design and engineering, structural engineering, environmental resources engineering, coastal engineering and construction engineering, and surveying. John Smeaton formalized the profession of civil engineer after the historical construction of the Eddystone Lighthouse in the mid-18th century. His contributions to the profession, which included assembling a team of like-minded individuals into a society with a relatively informal structure, inspired the formation of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1818 under the founding presidency of the legendary engineering scholar Thomas Telford. Upon receiving formal recognition as a field of potential study and profession, civil engineering continued to grow and gained changing attributes with the emergence of the information, communication, and transport technologies.
Civil engineering seeks to use the mathematical, physical, technological, scientific, and empirical tools, processes, and systems commonly used by other engineers to solve the various challenges that characterize the social, economic, and political lives of people. Civil engineers put effort to ensure that infrastructures and man-made features that can potentially improve human lifestyle are developed, maintained, and utilized in the most advantageous means possible. For instance, civil engineers may be employed to construct bridges that will not only withstand the test of time but will also guarantee safety and efficiency to the users. As another example, civil engineers may construct a man-made dam to allow the human and animal access to water, especially in dry areas. These activities are meant to maximize the human utilization of the natural environment through professionally systemized efforts. Harbors, ports, canals, lighthouses, bridges, and walls are among other structures commonly created through civil engineering processes in the contemporary world. The structures are built and sustained to provide housing, linkages between two geographical points, premises for economic, political and social use, and means of transporting people, information, goods and services, and security apparatus to a specified society and enhance the utilization of natural resources such as water, soil, and organisms in the human life. Countries with developed and well-planned engineered structures are believed to be advanced in the fulfilment of human needs as the structures ignite social, economic, and political activities of the masses.
One of the most interesting things about civil engineering is the development of creatively designed structures including roads, bridges, and railways. Some of the flyover rail lines have been so fascinating that they have become tourist sites. It is also common to see tourists visiting ancient structures that are the products of the past generations of civil engineers. In the future, civil engineering may be characterized by the shifts based on changing human ideologies of the significance, conservation, and maintenance of the natural environment. In other words, a direct relationship between environmental and civil engineering fields is gradually developing largely as a result of the global environmental agenda. The role of infrastructures such as buildings, tarmac roads, and man-made dams in the conservation or degradation of the environment is still an issue of debate and intellectual dwelling. Despite the interesting aspects of civil engineering, I would not transfer from mechanical to civil engineering as my major because I do not enjoy handling building and construction projects.
Mechanical engineering, as its name suggests, delves into the design, improvement, maintenance, construction, and development of mechanical systems, primarily machinery. Like other disciplines of engineering, mechanical engineering uses physical, scientific, numerical, and empirical methods of analyzing, quantifying, and enhancing the production, operation and improvement of machines and other mechanical systems. Whereas the human interaction with machines, even the simplest and least complicated of all, goes back to the prehistoric period and can only be established through archaeological pursuits, mechanical engineering seeks to systemize these interactions to improve safety, efficiency, applicability, and environmental economic sustainability, among other things. Some of the products and systems commonly associated with mechanical engineers include industrial machinery and equipment, aircraft, automobiles, power plants, cooling and heating systems, robots, engines, medical tools and equipment, transport systems, home gadgets, and electric devices. These systems and machinery are meant to ease human life by providing alternative sources of energy to substitute human effort and time.
The historical industrial revolution began in Europe in the 18th century before swiftly spreading to the other parts of the world including America and Asia. It played a central role in the development of mechanical engineering as a profession and discipline of study and intellectual interest. This was at a time when the scientists and inventors were continually dedicating their time and resources to the development of complicated tools and equipment that later came to be recognized as machines. Some of the mechanical engineering products were developed during this revolution, including automobiles, computers, and electronic devices, inspired modern advancements in mechanical engineering. Moreover, developments in the physics field devoted to the relationship between the physical matter and energy correspondingly ignited improvements in mechanical engineering. Of particular importance were the invention of the dynamo, engines, and electrical energy. It is interesting how mechanical engineering easily integrates advances in technology and applies them to design and manufacturing of machinery and equipment. Needless to say, mechanical engineering continues to play a crucial role in the development of smaller, more efficient, and increasingly complicated machines and devices that help humans achieve advanced intellectual and universal understanding through activities such as space travel, experimentations, surgery, and imaging.
Just as like civil engineering, mechanical engineering is continuously changing to accommodate shifts and growing ideologies among scholars and leading intellectuals. The compatibility of machine operation with the environmental welfare and human safety, among other aspects of human life, is being increasingly debated to give mechanical engineering a new face. This may, on one hand, explain why mechanical engineers are continually developing smaller, more efficient and energy conserving machines to replace the older generations of equipment and devices. Technology is playing an important role in driving this shift.
One of the historical projects implemented by mechanical engineers is the development of the space-exploring rocket named Apollo I. The project revealed a lot of extraterrestrial information that has been used to inspire the current thinking. Another equally important project is the development of the electric car that, on top of moving at a very high speed in comparison with the contemporary vehicles, saves the environment by discouraging the use of fossil oils. Mechanical engineering is my major and passion. I am fascinated by the different achievements that human beings have realized as a result of their interactions with machines provided and administered by mechanical engineers. I would not change my major because mechanical engineering motivates and inspires me.
Biomedical engineering is a relatively new branch of engineering that applies building, design, and maintenance concepts of engineering in the contemporary medical and biology fields. The design and empirical methods are especially important in biomedical engineering as they inspire the modification, creation, and manipulations of tissues, organs, organisms, and cells. The major aim of integrating the engineering ideas with biology and medicine is to solve the various problems associated with the current human interaction with living things including plants and animals. One of the major projects carried out through biomedical engineering is the development of genetically modified food such as Bt corn. The genetic modifications of this corn empower it to withstand and overcome the contemporary corn diseases and pests including the European maize stalk borer. Today, the debate on genetically modified organisms is so vibrant that many countries have placed strict rules and policies to guard over the circulation and usage of GMOs. Another prominent project realized through biomedical engineering is the development of the artificial human body parts that have been used to rectify failure by some of the natural body parts. One of the interesting aspects of biomedical engineering is the increased modification of organisms in projects that have come to gain global debate such as the health implications of the Bt corn. It is also fascinating how different organisms can be modified to obtain different characteristics and appearances as predetermined by the human mind. Although biomedical engineering is not my major, it still continues to reveal interesting things about living things and their nature. However, I would not transfer from mechanical to biomedical engineering because the interesting aspects of the latter cannot replace my passion for mechanical engineering.
Engineering, which involves the development, design, building, maintenance, and improvement of systems, processes, machines, and structures, is a diversified field. Hundreds of disciplines commonly studied in the universities and colleges today can be rightly described as engineering courses. However, civil, biomedical, and mechanical engineering are among the most popular and oldest branches of engineering. Each of the described branches contributes to the rapid progress of the modern world and has its vital part in important movements and transformations. All fields of engineering are likely to experience shifts and changes based on the dynamics of technological pursuit and the environmental debate.