University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering Pre-College Summer Programs - Student Portfolios


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What is Civil, Mechanical, and Industrial Engineering?

    Civil Engineering

    Examples of civil engineering have appeared as early as the building of the Great Wall of China, and the field itself is broad, encompassing categories such as structural, environmental, and construction engineering. Structural engineers are responsible for the design of buildings, bridges, and highways. They observe and make their designs in relation to location and natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Architectural engineering deals with the aesthetics of a structure. Engineers in this field typically work together with architects, who are concerned with the structure of the building instead. Environmental engineers are concerned with, but not limited to, the disposal of waste. They construct landfills and waste treatment centers to meet the needs of the community. Transportation and traffic engineering focus on highways, roads, and other transit systems. Traffic engineers also develop lights and manipulate them to allow proper traffic flow. Water resource engineers provide clean and reliable supplies of water. They design testing systems which purify water. Surveyors focus on the location of buildings and rely on photographic data to locate the proper placement of engineering projects. Urban planning engineers are involved in the layout of cities. They incorporate the main components of a city, like schools and airports, to meet the needs of the people. Construction engineering are interested in optimizing construction methods and materials, and are in charge of the operation of construction projects.

        Mechanical Engineering

        Mechanical engineering is one of the largest disciplines of the engineering field, second only to electrical engineering. Engineers in this field are in charge of the design, production, operation, and service of their devices. The design function involves assembling the components of machines and devices, and is the most common function of mechanical engineering. They work with material engineers to choose which materials are properly chosen for different functions in projects. The control function focuses on controlling the mechanical devices the engineers design. Incorporating digital control schemes, modern control systems are what engineers who control these devices use. Mechanical engineers in the thermal sciences study the flow of fluids and energy. They deal with automobiles and the combination of the three states of matter. Heat transfer deals with constructing cooling devices for devices such as microprocessors in computers. Engines are devices that produce mechanical work in, for example, automobiles and airplanes. Engineers who work with these design the components and the efficiency of the engines. Engineers must focus on performance when it comes to the production of power in power generation systems. They must produce power by making components such as steam turbines and boilers, or focus on alternative energy sources. HVAC (heating, ventilating, air-conditioning) focuses on cooling and heating buildings and controlling humidity. Mechanical and civil engineers work together to make these systems efficient. The manufacturing processes are used for the design and development of machines used in the processes of different industries. Mechanical engineers use robotics to speed up these processes. In biomedical engineering, engineers develop devices, such as limbs and joints, to help physically impaired patients.

            Industrial Engineering

            Industrial engineering is, by the Institute of Industrial Engineers, as the design, improvement, and installation of integrated systems of people, material, and energy. Engineers integrate math, technology, and management practices to work for industrial companies. Engineers in the production area optimize the process involved in making a product by reducing cost and production time and by increasing quality and reliability. Manufacturing focuses on the components of production, and addresses the individual production station. The human factors area involves who will work in the production system. Engineers consider ergonomics and study interfaces between people and machines to look for ways to improve productivity while providing a safe working area for workers. Operations research optimizes systems. Computer simulations are often used to model the system or study the changes to the system.

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                  The finished product!