Q: What is engineering?

A: According to the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, engineering is defined as “the application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people.” Engineers are men and women who work in aerospace, biomedical, chemicals, construction, computers, energy, manufacturing, and many other fields to create products, facilities, and structures.

Q: What is a Professional Engineer (PE)?

A: Professional Engineers (PEs) have fulfilled the rigorous education, examination, and experience requirements, which, under state licensure laws, permit them to offer engineering services to the public. Although engineering licensure laws vary from state to state, in general, to become a PE an individual must be a graduate of an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, gain four years of experience as an intern, and then pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. PEs take legal responsibility for their engineering designs, being bound by a code of ethics to protect public health and safety.

Q: What do engineers do?

A: Engineers take abstract ideas and apply science and mathematics to build products to meet the needs of people.

Q: What are the different types of Engineers?

A: Engineers are classified into several disciplines or specialties, such as the following:

  • Civil Engineers design roads, bridges, ports, airports, railroads and other transportation systems. They also design water supply systems topurifydrinking water and wastewater treatmentsystems to protect the environment. Inaddition, civil engineers may design dams, irrigation systems and other large public works projects.
  • Environmental Engineers are a subgroup of Civil Engineers who design systems and processes that protect the environment and reclaim habitats for nature. These processes may includehigh tech systems to remove and/or mitigate hazardous wastes from the air, groundwater or the land.
  • Structural Engineers design the framework for buildings, bridges and other large structures. By specifying specific uses of steel, concrete, wood and other materials in their designs, these engineers enable us to build structures capable of withstanding the weight of the building or bridge, its contents and the forces of wind, snow and earthquakes.
  • Geotechnical Engineers study subsurface conditions to determine the best foundation systems for buildings, bridges, roads and other structures. Their work is critical to any structure due to the various types of subsurface conditions found throughout the world. Different foundations systems are required if the conditions under the surface are rock, silt, or sand
  • Mechanical Engineers design plumbing, heating, ventilation, elevator, fire protection and air conditioning systems for buildings, as well asmanufacturing processes for industry.
  • Electrical Engineers design largepower generating plants and power distribution systems, as well as building lighting and power distribution systems, mechanical controls and data/voice communications systems.
  • There are a variety of other engineering disciplines that are subgroups of the above such as manufacturing engineers, fire protection engineers, chemical engineers, aeronautical engineers, nuclear engineers, etc.

Q: How many engineers are there?

A: It is estimated that there are more than two million practicing engineers in the United States.

Q: What is the difference between science and engineering?

A: Science is knowledge based on observed facts and tested truths arranged in an orderly system that can be validated and communicated to other people. Engineering is the creative application of scientific principles used to plan, build, direct, guide, manage, or work on systems to maintain and improve our daily lives.

Q: Where can I find an Engineer for a project I have?

A: The American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACEC/CT) offers an on-line directory of engineering firms offering engineering services to the public. They can be reached at