• Angela Lin

Which type of engineering is right for you?

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

You like working hands-on, figuring out how systems or machines operate, and solving problems. Math and science are your favorite school subjects (or at least your strengths). You’re already interested in engineering. The question now is: what type of engineering should you study?

The options are plentiful. While your career is not limited to your area of study, a lot of engineers do end up working in a field that directly relates to their major. We’ll go over some common engineering concentrations and list some of the classes/careers/companies associated with them. We hope you find one (or more) that you resonate with!


Aerospace/aeronautical engineering

Do you want to “boldly go where no one has gone before?” Have you always wanted to see a Blue Angels show? Does space fascinate you? Are you great at math and physics?

Classes: Thermodynamics, Space Systems Design, Vibration and Elasticity

Careers: Aerospace engineers design, develop, and maintain aircraft and spacecraft. They often work in laboratories conducting research or in factories overseeing production.

Companies: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, U.S. Military

Learn more: Aerospace engineer Q&A (Forbes), Day in the Life of an MIT Aerospace Engineering Student (Youtube), Aerospace Engineering: Reality vs Expectations (Youtube)


Bioengineering/biomedical engineering

Are you a tech-y person with a passion for medicine? Do you think that robotics can improve human bodies? Is “Grey’s Anatomy” your favorite show?

Classes: Computational Biology, Medical Imaging, Bionanotechnology

Careers: Biomedical engineers create and test artificial organs, pharmaceutical drugs, surgical robots, and more — all crossovers of tech and medicine.

Companies: Medtronic, Johnson and Johnson, Merck 

Learn more: High-Pay, Low-Stress STEM Job (Forbes), BME Career Paths (Youtube), Day in the Life of a Biomedical Engineering During COVID-19 (Youtube)


Chemical engineering

Do you want to solve real problems — health, safety, oil spills? Was doing experiments in chemistry class the highlight of your day in high school? (Although, to be fair, chemical engineering does not equal chemistry!) 

Classes: Reactor Design, Organic Chemistry, Drug Development

Careers: Chemical engineers use math and science to solve problems relating to chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, food, and other substances. They ensure the safety of the products we use and help to make them better!

Companies: Honeywell, Merck, Dow Chemicals

Learn more: Chemical Engineering Q&A (Youtube), The History of Chemical Engineering Crash Course (Youtube)


Civil engineering

Do you care a lot about the way your community is structured? Do you like seeing your designs come to life on a large scale? Did you play a lot of Minecraft as a kid? Is public service important to you?

Classes: Structural Dynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Geotechnical Engineering

Careers: Civil engineers create and maintain the public infrastructure of our cities, from our bridges to our buildings to our sewage systems.

Companies: United States Army Corps of Engineers, Comcast, Northrop Grumman

Learn more: Civil engineer interview, Civil Structural Engineering – Reality vs Expectations (Youtube)