What is Engineering

Introduction

Engineering has been around for thousands of years. The words "engineer" and "ingenious" both come from the Latin root ingenerare, meaning "to create".

Some of the very first engineers built roads, buildings and other structures. Today that type of engineering is known as "civil engineering." A few hundred years ago "mechanical engineering" was born. This field developed as engineers began to design machines and other such devices. The first electrical devices were invented in the 19th century, leading to a new branch of engineering called "electrical engineering."

Since then, the engineering profession has grown immensely.

There are all kinds of specialties within these fields, and engineers are in no way limited to one area. Engineers have the necessary background to be able to be competent in many different areas. This makes engineering a combination many things: science, math, art, economics, social studies, and English.  

Engineering, like law and medicine, is a self-regulated profession. This means the profession as a whole is responsible for overseeing the conduct of its members, and for establishing practice guidelines, professional standards and codes of ethics for them to follow. For this purpose, engineering regulatory associations have been established in each province and territory of Canada. The associations give licenses to engineers who meet the profession's very high standards, and they also govern the profession of engineering. Licensed engineers can use the designation "P. Eng." (or "P. Ing." in Quebec) after their name. This designation stands for "professional engineer" and is engineering's stamp of quality. No one can call themselves a professional engineer, use the P. Eng. ( or P. Ing.) designation, or carry out engineering work in Canada without a license.

Engineering vs. Science

"Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been." 
—Albert Einstein

Science primarily involves using experimentation to uncover new things about the physical world, while engineering is about applying that scientific knowledge to create useful products and services for society. While science is firmly rooted in research, engineering relies on both research and design. Both disciplines require a strong knowledge of scientific theory, math and computing.  

One of the most important differences between a pure science versus an engineering degree is that there is a career path from an undergraduate degree in engineering. Engineering graduates are qualified to pursue their professional license. Not so in science, where one typically requires graduate work to be employable in that field.  

You may be intrigued by science and technology and know that you want to pursue these interests in university, but can't decide between a degree in engineering or science. Unlike other engineering schools, Queen's Faculty of Applied Science can accommodate your dual interests through our Engineering Sciences and Mathematics specializations. Our degree programs with an emphasis on Engineering Sciences and Mathematics bring these two academic fields together, opening up a wide array of career options.