In order to build the Pantheon, the world’s largest dome for over a thousand years, the Romans carved an oculus, or opening, at the top to lighten the load. Engineers still take on projects like the Pantheon. But they also work on everything from robots small enough to fit into the human body to new ways of breaking the sound barrier.
A general engineering major at the associate’s degree level provides solid preparation for any type of engineering degree at the bachelor’s level. And if you decide to earn a bachelor’s degree in general engineering, you will study many different fields of engineering and business. You could then go on to coordinate teams of engineers, oversee product development from invention to market, or use your engineering know-how in a nonengineering field, such as law or medicine.
Engineering majors learn to use science and math to solve practical problems and help create everything from assembly lines and oil-drilling techniques to spacecraft and smartphones.
Did You Know?
The Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was completed in 1883. Today's longest is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, but it won't be long before Italy breaks the record.
Are You Ready To...?
- Join a campus chapter of an organization like the American Society of Civil Engineers or the Society of Women Engineers?
- Gather and interpret data as part of an internship
- Learn how to use algorithms (step-by-step procedures) to solve problems
- Give a ten-minute technical presentation
- Work with a team to design and build a project
- Pass challenging math and science classes
It Helps To Be...
Good at math and science and interested in working with people. Most engineering students work on projects in teams.
- Is the program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology?
- If the program leads to an associate’s degree, will it prepare you for transfer to a four-year school? Does the school have transfer agreements with any four-year colleges?
- Will you have the chance to take on a research project?
- Are the labs and other facilities up-to-date and well equipped?
- Does the engineering school sponsor events, such as guest speakers and design competitions?
- Will the engineering school help you find work after graduation?
“Civil engineering -- and engineering in general -- allows you to think and be creative. It gives you answers to why certain things work.” -- Cindy, junior, civil and environmental engineering, UC Berkeley
In your first year, you will probably take an introduction to engineering course, which will give you an overview of the field. Your teacher may emphasize the practical and professional side of being an engineer.
You'll learn about the importance of teamwork as well as the ethical questions that engineers confront. You'll also look into environmental concerns and quality control. Your new knowledge will be put to the test with a real-world engineering project, which you'll design on your own or with a team.