What is Engineering Technology?
Engineering Technology is...
- For indviduals who want engineering related careers with a hands-on practical approach.
- A blend of theory-based lecture and hands-on laboratory.
- Topics in cutting-edge technology areas enabling graduates to meet the changing needs of industry.
- Based on understanding the application of engineering principles rather than the mathematical derivations.
- Activities ranging from the applied and practical to the highly theoretical and abstract.
Engineering Technology students...
- Apply technology to the solutions of industrial problems.
- Have considerable knowledge of materials and processes.
- Know how to apply the principles of physical sciences.
- Use instruments rather than tools.
Based upon the problem-solving techniques that are inherent in theoretical learning, most engineering technology programs
are based upon ABET accreditation criteria. This is one reason students completing two years of an engineering technology
program are awarded Associate of Science degrees, rather than Applied Associate of Science (A.A.S.) degrees. A.A.S.
degrees are normally terminal degrees that do not lead directly into the junior year of a Bachelor of Science degree program;
A.S. degrees typically do.
A two-year (Associate's) degree in engineering technology is usually the first two years of a four-year (Bachelor's) degree
program in engineering technology (a Master of Science degree is also available). A frequent misconception is that, to continue
for a bachelor's degree, engineering technology A.S. graduates have to change their majors to engineering. Typically, anyone
who chooses to change from an engineering technology major to an engineering major or vice versa, or from a vocational technology
major to an engineering technology major can expect a loss of applicable credits toward his/her degree.
Engineering technology students can successfully terminate with a two-year Associate of Science degree. One vital reason
for the marketability of the two-year technology degree is that technology students, unlike engineering students, begin taking
technical classes from the first semester of their first year.
Graduates of engineering technology degree programs are trained, technical problem- solvers who work in areas of design,
production planning and processes and troubleshooting.
How do students choose among engineering, engineering technology, and vocational technology programs?
The determining factor for a student choosing between engineering and engineering technology degrees should be the type
of work that he/she wants to do upon entering the job market. Both engineering and technology students should have strong
math and science backgrounds. Both engineering technology and vocational technology students will receive plenty of "hands-on"
Typically, engineering curricula include the most math and science of the three types of programs. A person who enjoys
scientific inquiry, design of new concepts and working with ideas may be more inclined toward engineering.
Typically, the vocational technology student studies the least math and science of the three programs. A person who prefers
to work almost totally with his/her hands may be more inclined toward vocational technology .
Typically, an engineering technology student takes a balance of math, science, and humanities courses, along with application-oriented
classes. A person who enjoys solving challenging technical problems, making things work, hands-on applications and working
with people may be more inclined toward engineering technology.
More About Engineering Technology
The field of engineering technology came into its own after WWII, as many veterans who had received technical training
took advantage of the G. I. Bill to continue their education to the associates degree level. As a result, many of today's
engineering technology colleges were either established or extended at that time.
After Sputnik in 1957, a stronger emphasis was placed on the preparation for research and on integrating more math and
science into engineering curricula. In many research universities, this necessitated a decreased emphasis on the arts and
on practical elements of engineering as they applied to industrial preparation. Seeing this developing void, many of the stronger
two-year engineering technology colleges added two more years of advanced applied technical work, thus establishing the baccalaureate
engineering technology degree (the first of which was accredited in the late 1960's by ECPD - now TAC/ABET). Most also preserved
their strong associates programs.
The baccalaureate degree programs grew both in quantity and quality during the next several decades, such that today there
are 315 TAC/ABET-accredited BS/BET programs in over 90 disciplines in about 110 colleges and universities. At the associate
degree level, there are 450 TAC/ABET-accredited programs in about 120 disciplines in approximately 160 colleges and universities.
Many others exist that have not sought TAC/ABET accreditation.
The most popular program is electrical/electronics, followed by mechanical/manufacturing, and civil engineering technologies.
These three categories account for 85 percent of the graduates nationally.
Engineering technology programs are characterized by their focus on application and practice, and their approximately 50/50
mix of theory and laboratory experience. Typically, the faculty hold technical masters degrees (usually in engineering, but
occasionally in engineering technology), have significant industrial experience, and many are registered professional engineers.
Students recruited into engineering technology programs usually come from the top half of their graduating class, rather
than from the top 5-10 percent exclusively (as is the case in some of the major engineering programs). Women and minorities
enroll at about the same percentages as in engineering programs.
Graduates are recruited by most major technological companies in the U.S. they are employed across the technological spectrum,
but are better suited to areas that deal with application, implementation, and production, as opposed to the conceptual design
and research functions. The technical sales and customer services fields also account for many placements.
A definition recently adopted by ASEE's Engineering Technology Council illustrates the programs educational emphasis and
the most fitting placements for their graduates:
Engineering technology is a profession in which a knowledge of mathematics and natural sciences gained by higher education,
experience, and practice is devoted primarily to the implementation and extension of existing technology for the benefit of
humanity. Engineering technology education focuses primarily on the applied aspects of science and engineering aimed at preparing
graduates for practice in that portion of the technological spectrum closest to the product improvement, manufacturing, and
engineering operational functions.