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A Brief Guide to Engineering Terms

An Engineer’s Glossary of Terms

The built world everyone inhabits is possible due to the work of engineers. Engineers use mathematics, science, and other fields of knowledge to solve problems. They are concerned with understanding how things work and how to practically use scientific breakthroughs in ways that impact business, industry, and people’s lives. Often, their work is overlooked. For example, when a new skyscraper is built in a city, the architect’s name is usually known, but the engineer is just as important to the design and building of the skyscraper as the architect. There are many different fields of engineering, and engineers do drastically different work. As in other professions, engineers also have their own terminology.

3D Digital Modeling: Engineers use 3D modeling software as part of the design process. It allows them to easily demonstrate parts of their projects in a way that’s easy for non-engineers to understand. These models help to get stakeholders like factory owners or marketing teams on board with the plan and allow the input of non-engineers to be reflected earlier in the process, reducing the need for more costly changes later.

Aerospace: The engineers who design and develop aircraft for both civilian and military use along with vehicles designed for space flight are known as aerospace engineers. They also create items like missiles for the military and help develop new technologies associated with flight. There are many different specializations within aerospace engineering, including propulsion, celestial mechanics, and guidance and control systems.

Biotechnology: A field that combines applied biology with engineering to develop new ways to use biological processes and sometimes living things

Chemical Engineering: Using a mix of life and physical sciences along with mathematics, chemical engineers focus on transforming organic materials into more valuable materials useful for the needs of modern life.

Civil Engineering: Civil engineers participate in designing, building, and maintaining structures like buildings, bridges, dams, and roads. They design these structures using specialized software.

Code Compliance: Engineers are responsible for making sure that their work complies with national and local building, safety, health, and other applicable codes.

Commissioning and Start-Up: For engineers who design any sort of product, commissioning and start-up is the final part of the process before the item is made in a factory.

Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineers work with electricity along with designing and maintaining electrical systems and devices.

Engineering: Engineers use mathematical, social, economic, practical, and scientific knowledge to build, produce, and maintain structures, buildings, systems, devices, raw materials, and consumer goods that have an impact on people’s lives.

Environmental Permit Application Assistance: Engineers are responsible for obtaining all needed local, state, and federal permits for their projects, including ones related to the potential environmental effects of their work.

Facility Upgrades and Retrofits: Some engineers focus on updating factories to meet new standards or undertake the production of different goods. Bringing out-of-date structures up to code and making them useful for modern life presents unique challenges.

Feasibility Studies: Before a project begins, a feasibility study is done to better understand the scope of the project, the best way to bring it to fruition, and any potential issues that could stand in the way.

Industrial Engineering: Industrial engineering involves designing and improving complicated systems and processes. These engineers have to consider money, equipment, feasibility, desired outcomes, efficiency issues, and materials in play when figuring out how to best implement or redesign a system. Operations management tends to be the business equivalent of this field, but one main difference is that industrial engineering focuses more on quantitative evidence and analysis.

Intelligent Process and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs): Intelligent process and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) are created by software and are easily understood graphics that represent the data collected during a project. Modern software makes it possible for engineers and organizations to quickly retrieve and analyze relevant data.

Mechanical Engineering: These engineers use physical and aspects of material science to analyze, design, produce, and maintain complex mechanical processes and systems.

Piping Engineering Design: This engineering field studies and improves the transportation and storage of fluids.

Pneumatic Conveying: Vacuum systems are used to turn hoses, pipes, and tubes into powerful transportation systems for documents and other materials over long distances.

Structural Engineering: Each bridge, building, road, or car has a maximum weight it can safely hold. Structural engineers work on analyzing and designing structures and equipment to understand maximum loads and how to best support those loads.

Engineering Resources

Software Engineer Glossary

Inside the software engineering community, there are hundreds of phrases that are unique to the profession. For those new to software engineering, it is important to have a handle on the industry vernacular. Software engineering has a wide variety of similar but different acronyms, as well as common words that have a different meanings within the context of software engineering. The following is a short list of some popular software engineering vocabulary to help you get started.

Algorithm: A set of well-defined rules to create the solution to a problem with a finite number of steps. An algorithm usually has a sequence of operations to perform a specific task.

Batch: A system or operating mode in which inputs are collected and processed all at once instead of one at a time. Once started, a batch will continue to go until it is completed without any additional input on the user’s part.

Calibration: The ability to ensure a level of adequate and continuous performance of sensing, actuating, and measuring equipment set to specified accuracy and precision requirements.

Data: A representation of facts, instructions, or concepts in a way that can be communicated and interpreted by humans and computers.

Fail-safe: A system that automatically goes into in the event that the previous system fails.

Hazard Analysis: Techniques created in order to identify potential failures that could arise and affect system functionality, performance, and security.

Implementation: Translating a design into hardware or software components. An example of this is coding.

Latency: The time interval between the moment when the central processing unit (CPU) puts out a call for data and the moment when the data transfer starts.

Mainframe: A large central computer used by an organization to handle bulk data processing.

Operator: The end-user or person who is actively engaging with a computer program or computer software.

Routine: A sequence of code that can be repeatedly called upon to complete an action within a program and by other programs or subprograms. Routines make it easier and faster to write a code.

Sensor: A small device that senses a variable in the system environment and converts it to a signal a computer can process.

Software Engineer Resources