Types of Engineering

Architectural Engineering

Architectural engineering is the application of engineering principles and technology to building design and construction. Architectural engineers work with architects and civil engineers, but they are unique in both their skills and role as part of the building design team.

Imagine yourself:

  • Designing the structural and HVAC systems of a building.
  • Developing a building’s electrical and lighting systems.
  • Applying engineering sciences to construction projects.
  • Studying architectural engineering at Oregon State.


Bioengineers combine the principles of biology, chemistry, and engineering to develop new biologics, materials, devices, and processes. Bioengineers are in demand, with career opportunities in the pharmaceutical and food and beverage industries, alternative energy research, and medical device fabrication and testing.

Imagine yourself:

  • Developing pharmaceuticals and drug delivery strategies.
  • Designing biomedical devices and diagnostics.
  • Improving the biocompatibility of implants.
  • Constructing tissues to replace impaired or lost functions.
  • Designing processes to produce new food products that use enzymes and living cells.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers focus on the science and engineering of processes to convert raw materials into high-value chemicals and products such as electronics, biofuels, synthetic fibers, polymer composites, advanced ceramics, medicines, and medical devices. Career opportunities can be found in a variety of industries, including pulp and paper, food and beverages, semiconductors, specialty chemicals, and petroleum and alternative energy.

Imagine yourself:

  • Designing chemical processes for manufacturing microelectronics.
  • Developing renewable energy systems based on solar cells and biofuels.
  • Creating new biodegradable plastics, high-performance composites, and biocompatible materials.
  • Developing systems to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Designing chemical production facilities and oil refineries.

Civil Engineering

Civil engineers plan, design, and construct the infrastructure we use every day, including highways, bridges, buildings, water supply and wastewater treatment plants, and many other facilities. Civil engineers are typically not desk-bound, so you can expect to be frequently working in the field, finding practical solutions to real problems.

Imagine yourself:

  • Designing bridges, highways, buildings, and mass-transit systems.
  • Improving tsunami detection and evacuation plans.
  • Implementing safe fish passage in rivers.
  • Planning better neighborhood development.
  • Designing infrastructure for earthquake preparedness.

Computer Science

Computer scientists use creativity and logic to develop software that helps solve problems, often working with people from diverse fields such as science, health care, and business. Your degree can lead to a career in artificial intelligence, computer graphics, cybersecurity, data science, human-computer interaction, mobile computing, robotics, or software engineering.

Imagine yourself:

  • Preventing cyberattacks.
  • Advancing medicine through better software.
  • Creating special effects and animations for blockbuster movies and video games.
  • Designing and implementing software for smart grid management.

Construction Engineering Management

Construction engineering managers plan and supervise all types of construction — homes, commercial and industrial buildings, highways, bridges, airports, and dams. Your roles could include preliminary fieldwork, estimating, planning, and scheduling to ensure projects are completed safely, on time, and within budget.

Imagine yourself:

  • Transforming engineering designs into roads, bridges, buildings, and other facilities.
  • Planning, scheduling, and coordinating construction activities.
  • Working with engineers and architects to ensure successful projects.
  • Making construction safer, faster, and more economical.
  • Constructing sustainable, green buildings.

Ecological Engineering

Ecological engineers design sustainable systems that integrate human activities with the natural environment to benefit both. They use ecology as a fundamental design standard, emphasizing resiliency, adaptation and a systems approach to solve environmental problems.

Imagine yourself:

  • Restoring ecosystems and river systems.
  • Designing closed-loop systems with reduced ecological footprints.
  • Designing functional ecological systems that mitigate pollutants.
  • Applying ecosystems analysis and modeling to solve complex environmental problems.
  • Designing and managing constructed wetlands and tidal marshlands.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Electrical and computer engineers apply science and mathematics to design, build, test, and support electrical and computer hardware. You could develop new technologies for a broad range of applications, including driverless cars, health care, multimedia, power systems, robotics, networking, and wireless communications.

Imagine yourself:

  • Developing new technologies for wind, wave, or solar energy.
  • Inventing new medical imaging systems.
  • Contributing to the next generation of consumer electronics that are smaller, faster, and more powerful.

Energy Systems Engineering

Energy systems engineers oversee complex energy conversion and distribution systems, work to improve energy storage systems, and manage the efficient use of energy in building, manufacturing, and processing systems. You’ll join an emerging profession tackling one of the world’s most significant challenges, along with its environmental and economic impacts.

Imagine yourself:

  • Analyzing and improving energy conversion systems.
  • Auditing industrial energy use and increasing overall efficiency.
  • Integrating control systems to reduce energy consumption.
  • Designing advanced energy storage systems.
  • Evaluating the economic viability of new solar power installations.

Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineers apply science and engineering principles to improve the natural environment, ensure the quality of land, air, and water, and remediate polluted sites. Environmental engineers have career opportunities in industry, private consulting firms, and government agencies at the local, state, and federal level.

Imagine yourself:

  • Designing facilities to treat drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater.
  • Developing innovative ways to clean up hazardous waste sites.
  • Monitoring air pollution and designing better emission-control devices.
  • Minimizing waste streams, materials, and energy use in manufacturing processes.
  • Designing waste processes that use living systems or chemical treatments.

Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineers design, implement, and manage complex organizational systems and processes. You’ll develop knowledge and skills in a wide variety of disciplines and be poised to make an important impact across any type of commercial, governmental, and service organization.

Imagine yourself:

  • Implementing new hospital processes to improve health care.
  • Redesigning workstations and tasks to reduce repetitive stress injuries.
  • Creating information systems for manufacturing operations.
  • Designing cockpit controls to improve pilot performance and safety.
  • Improving company operations by determining where a new facility should be located.

Manufacturing Engineering

Manufacturing engineers focus on the process behind the products we use every day. You’ll design and improve systems to create high-quality items as efficiently as possible. From machine tools and computer networks to robots and materials, you’ll help better the production of a wide array of consumable goods.

Imagine yourself:

  • Designing precision machines for efficient, high-quality smartphone manufacturing.
  • Developing new alloys using metal powders for 3D printing of nuclear reactor components.
  • Designing silicon chip manufacturing processes to reduce cost and improve product quality.
  • Implementing laser cutting and welding to produce rock-climbing equipment.
  • Identifying the most cost-effective facility layout for composite aircraft manufacturing.
  • Modeling the physics of a cutting tool during the machining of a stainless steel knife blade.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers design and develop new materials, devices, processes, and systems — as well as analyze, troubleshoot, and improve on existing ones. You’ll find career opportunities in almost any type of industry.

Imagine yourself:

  • Building satellites, race cars, and autonomous vehicles.
  • Designing miniature heat pumps for use in protective clothing.
  • Developing new materials for medical products and sports equipment.
  • Designing wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and other renewable energy systems.
  • Creating processes and instruments to assess stream and forest health.

Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineers research and develop new reactor designs, advanced computational techniques, nuclear fuel recycling and management strategies, and radioisotope technologies for use in medicine and industry.

Imagine yourself:

  • Designing safer nuclear power plants for electricity production.
  • Creating nuclear power systems for satellites and deep-space exploration.
  • Designing advanced nuclear reactors.
  • Developing methods for nuclear fuel recycling.
  • Using radiation to explore the structure and dynamics of materials.

Radiation Health Physics

Radiation health physicists integrate the physical aspects of radiation, their biological effects, and the methods used to protect people and their environments from radiation hazards while enabling beneficial uses of radiation and radioactive material.

Imagine yourself:

  • Developing programs to protect people from excess radiation exposure.
  • Managing radiation safety at a nuclear plant or hospital.
  • Designing radiation shields for industrial and medical applications.
  • Designing sophisticated radiation detection systems.
  • Studying the effects of radiation on biological and environmental systems.