Turning Ideas Into Reality
What Do Engineers Do?
The Booming Job Market
Starting Salaries (by field)
Famous Engineers
Links to more information about Engineering

Turning Ideas Into Reality!

That's what engineers do, in a nutshell!  L. Sprague DeCamp said of engineers, "The story of civilization is, in a sense, the story of engineering - that long and arduous struggle to make the forces of nature work for man's good."

The first engineers focused on military technology, designing weapons, such as sword and catapults, and sturdy medieval castles.  Later engineers designed roads, bridges, dams, electric lights, internal combustion engines, computers -- the conveniences of our modern lives.  The engineers of today are solving the problems of the 21st Century, cleaning the environment with plants and microbes, developing biofuels for cars and trucks, designing the cars and trucks that we drive to work and school, and enhancing the world in which we live.

You may be wondering about the difference between engineers and scientists.  Perhaps Albert Einstein put it best when he said, "Scientists investigate that which already is; engineers create that which has never been."  Students in Biosystems Engineering turn their ideas into reality in their freshman year.  The University of Tennessee's innovative freshman engineering sequence, ENGAGE, introduces students to the fundamentals of engineering in the classroom, while teaming them with our students on design projects.  Projects from past years have included wooden bridges, cardboard chairs, catapults, and rubber band-powered cars!  A sophomore in Biosystems Engineering is pictured above with the expandable bale mover he designed in the 3-D modeling package Mechanical Desktop.

What Do Engineers Do?

The best answer to this question may be "What don't engineers do?"  The engineers of today are solving tomorrows problems, but in a variety of fields and ways.  Some engineers create new products like combines, computers, and food products.  Others conduct scientific research, working in laboratories or outdoors, perhaps monitoring water quality or developing safer food handling techniques.  Other engineers test and evaluate new systems. A graduate student in Biosystems Engineering is shown at the right evaluating spray patterns from nozzles using the latest laser technology.
Some engineers choose to attend medical school or law school.  Others enter the technical marketing arena, utilizing their engineering background to help sell products or educate others on the merits of a particular product.  Many of the CEOs of major companies actually have engineering degrees.

In our increasingly high-tech society, the profession of engineering offers plentiful job opportunities, superior salaries and a high rate of professional satisfaction.  A degree in engineering opens the door to a world of opportunity!
Student Using Laser

The Booming Job Market For Engineers

While the demand for engineers is on the rise, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded in engineering has declined since 1986.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment opportunities for engineers are expected to be excellent at least through 2008.  

Competitive pressures and advancing technology are forcing companies to improve and update products designs more and more frequently.  Employers are also relying on engineers to increase productivity.  Another key growth area is in the environmental engineering field, as engineers are called upon to correct the environmental mistakes of past generations.  The photo at left shows two Biosystems Engineering students collecting water samples from a well.

While a small proportion of engineers leave the profession each year (a testament to the rewarding nature of engineering careers!), many job openings are arising from  replacement needs.  Most of the replacement openings are created by engineers promoted to management, sales, or other professional specialty occupations.  Clearly, engineers don't move out of a company, they move up!  The demand for starting engineers exceeds the number of graduating engineers, generating a excellent opportunity.
Source:  US BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook

Starting Salaries

The starting salaries for engineers are typically significantly higher than those of college graduates in other fields.  JobTrak.com reports the average starting salary for engineers in 2000 to be $47,001, while the average for all majors was $36,259.  The graph below shows the average starting salaries by profession for 1999, as reported by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Avg. Starting Salary vs. Profession

Famous Engineers

The list of famous engineers is an impressive one, including former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover, along with astronaut Neil Armstrong.  Speaking of astronauts, did you know that 72 of the 107 active U.S. astronauts (as of 1998) have engineering degrees?!  Here is a list of more famous engineers.

Engineering Information Links

The American Society for Engineering Education
Discover Engineering Online (Excellent site...games & lots of info)
JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society)
Biological and Agricultural Engineering Info
Agilent Technologies Info for the Prospective Engineer

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