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Kids' Guide to Engineering

Lisa Richards, Educational Outreach Writer

When you hear the word "engineer," you might think about the person sitting in the driver's seat of a train. While a train engineer is one career option, there are lots of other types of engineers, too. Engineering is a career path for people who like to use different kinds of science and math to solve problems.

What Is an Engineer?

Regardless of the type of engineer, these people use science and math to figure out how different things work so they can improve those things and create new things. Engineers work on inventions to make life better in many different ways. Engineers spend their time testing, analyzing, changing, inspecting, building, and maintaining all sorts of systems and products. If things don't work, engineers figure out why they failed, and they create solutions. If a problem exists, engineers will work to come up with an invention that solves the problem.

Science Behind Engineering

Science is a huge part of engineering. In fact, you can't be an engineer without knowing a lot about science because every engineering field relies heavily on science. A civil engineer will need to understand physics, and a chemical engineer will need a background in chemistry. A computer engineer needs to understand both math and computer science to succeed.

Types of Engineering

If you're thinking about becoming an engineering someday, you'll have lots of options. You could be an aerospace engineer if you like outer space or you are interested in planes or rockets. If you are interested in farming, you could become an agricultural engineer. Chemical engineers work to create things like plastics, medicines, and fuels. Civil engineers are the experts in charge of building road systems and buildings. If you like computers, you could be a computer engineer who designs, builds, and maintains computer systems and software.

Famous Engineers From History

Lots of engineers have become famous for their work. Nikola Tesla was an electrical engineer whose work led to the use of electricity in our homes today. He also invented the Tesla coil and experimented with fluorescent lighting. Thomas Edison was another engineer who invented things, including the incandescent light bulb and the movie camera. Henry Ford's greatest creation was the assembly line, a method that made it possible to make a lot of one thing quickly and cheaply: He used this idea to make cars. But men haven't been the only great engineers in history: Women have done a lot of amazing things, too. For instance, Emily Roebling was a field engineer who took charge of building the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband had to abandon the project. Hedy Lamarr is most famous as an actress, but she also invented a radio frequency system that was used by the U.S. military and became a building block for things we use today, like Wi-Fi. And Lillian Gilbreth was an industrial engineer who worked on ergonomics, studying how people worked and making office environments better.

Benefits of Engineering in Education

It's important to learn about engineering in school because there are so many different engineering jobs you can have someday, but becoming an engineer starts with learning what you need to know in school. People who become engineers usually really like what they do, and there are engineering jobs all over the world, so no matter where you want to live, you can probably find a job there. Engineers can also feel good knowing that their work helps people to live better lives. And engineering jobs also pay well.

Engineering/STEM Games and Experiments

If you're interested in science and engineering, you'll find many different games and experiments that can help you learn more. STEM games teach science and engineering skills, and they're fun, too. You can also challenge yourself to build things, then look at the design to see if you can improve it.