- Good to Know
A professional engineer studies many subjects to earn a degree in this field. Although you may not have the same knowledge and experience as a professional engineer, anyone can apply engineering principles to solve problems. You might produce a thing with engineering, or you could solve a problem. Explore the world of engineering to begin thinking like a specialized problem-solver.
The word "engineering" comes from the Latin word that means "cleverness." Engineering is just a fancy word that means solving a problem by using science, math, and common knowledge. People use engineering to design and create things or processes that are useful. Any kid who likes to explore and build things can learn how to engineer designs of new creations.
Science and math form the building blocks for engineering. An engineer needs to study different science topics to become as knowledgeable as possible about the world. Knowing this information makes it possible to solve problems successfully. An engineer studies biology, chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and heat transfer concepts. After an engineer identifies a problem or a need, the engineer then brainstorms possible solutions for the problem. Often, a group of people will work together to share ideas and come up with a plan. The team will choose the best idea and then create a plan together. Drawing diagrams and listing materials are important parts of the design process. The team may work together on a prototype. A prototype is a practice model of the design, which the team will use for testing. This process helps the team to fix mistakes and make changes for the best final design. After making adjustments, the team will then create the final design to solve the problem.
The field of engineering is a broad one. Within this field, engineering divides into different specialties. These specialties include mechanical, civil, chemical, software, and electrical engineers. A civil engineer designs and builds buildings, roads, and bridges. A mechanical engineer works to design mechanical systems, tools, and machines. An electrical engineer knows all about electricity, which makes it possible to design circuits and computer chips. Chemical engineers are special scientists who work with raw materials and chemicals. A software engineer knows how to design and research to make new and faster computer software.
Engineers have worked throughout history to solve problems. You may recognize many names of famous engineers. Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. He also had a degree in aerospace engineering. Thomas Edison was a famous scientist who designed many inventions, including the light bulb. Henry Ford revolutionized the way auto companies make cars when he used assembly lines for factories. Leonardo da Vinci may have been a famous Renaissance artist, but he also spent a lot of time studying math and science. He worked on projects such as a hang glider and a flying machine that looked like a helicopter.
Playing engineering games is a perfect way to learn more about designing and creating. A solar car racing game gives you the assignment of designing a car that uses only the sun's energy as fuel. A bionic arm game gives you materials and components that you have to use to design and test a bionic arm. You could even design a parachute that astronauts use to touch down safely on Mars.
Many different activities can help you learn more about engineering. Putting puzzles together helps you think about how items fit together. Building with blocks lets you think about what you want to build, plan your design, and then build it. Even taking items apart gives you a chance to see how parts work together in a machine. If you want to take apart a household item, make sure you get permission first. Never take apart an electrical device that is plugged into a socket.
You might plan an engineering science project for school. With your project, you should identify a need that you want to solve, make a plan, and design the item or process that will solve the problem. After making your prototype and testing it, you will be ready to create the final design. Write down every step of your project so you have a complete record of what you did. You might also take pictures or draw diagrams to add to your project notes.