People often ask what’s the difference between a Structural Engineer and a civil engineer. I recently wrote an article and explained the difference. Anyway, I came across another question people often ask. Well, my daughter; she is 16, and she also now deciding who to become in the future. She asked me what’s better: structural engineering or mechanical engineering. Well, I can’t say who is better, but I can explain the difference. Then you decide who you will become in the future.
Many similarities are there between the two of them. As you already know, they both use maths and physics in their jobs; and both complete a comprehensive educational program. Anyway, there’s a difference between the nature of the work they do. A Structural Engineer focuses more on the designing structures such as skyscrapers, bridges, and so on. The mechanical engineer, on the other hand; focuses more on mechanical components such as parts and machines. Also, differences do exist in the educational program.
Structural engineering has a very long history. A few years back, people considered it as a sub-division of civil engineering. Civil engineering, on the other hand; is one of the oldest forms of engineering, and it focuses on designing bridges, dams, and so on; where the Structural Engineer concentrates more on structural aspect in the developing process. In other words, a Structural Engineer works closely with the architects, surveyors, contractors, and other engineers.
A mechanical engineer is also a unique individual. They develop tools and machines for other engineers. For example, they design systems for building cooling and heating and industrial robots. Mechanical engineering spreads across a wide field. For example, boats, automobile, aircraft, power plant, medical equipment, and manufacturing. He is responsible for the mechanical aspects of a process. It’s a demanding field.
Both the Structural Engineer and mechanical engineer should work closely with each other. I mean, they both should coordinate throughout a project. Let’s take an office tower for example. When the architects hand over him the blueprint, the Structural Engineer will go through it and determine whether the building will stand steady under stress and forces. Now that’s his part. The mechanical engineer, on the other hand; will design air conditioning and heating system and give his assistance for developing the building’s escalators and elevators.
OK, now let’s talk about their educational programs. A Structural Engineer will need a 4-year degree in engineering. Anyway, the majority of the Structural Engineers get the 4-year degree in civil engineering, then get the master’s in structural engineering. For A-levels, they both should study maths, advanced mathematics, physics, electronics, and fluid dynamics. Anyway, both the students should take special classes depending on the field they choose in the future. For example, if you want to become a Structural Engineer; then you must master material science, forces, stresses, the center of gravity, and building components. And if you want to become a mechanical engineer, then you must master energy conversion, hydraulics, and other mechanical components.
Summary: The both the fields are demanding job areas. They both get paid well, and the demand for them is on the rise. So, who will you become in the future? Well, I am leaving you the decision. Oh, my daughter is studying to become a Structural Engineer, though.