Applied Engineering Bachelor’s Degree

Applied engineers work on the design, implementation, testing, and refinement of technologies and products. Their role encompasses aspects of manufacturing, technology development, and systems integration. Applied engineers have been instrumental in the development of aircraft, automobiles, and smartphones, among other products.

So, what is applied engineering? Applied engineering is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the practical application of engineering principles to solve real-world problems and develop innovative products and processes.

Benefits of a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Engineering

With an applied engineering degree, you have the flexibility to work in various industries and sectors. Unlike other engineering careers that restrict you to specific industries, with an applied engineering degree, you can work in supply chain, manufacturing, production, and design (just to name a few)—basically, any economic sector requiring engineering principles. This means your chances of finding a job after graduating are quite high. Depending on your interests, you can also choose the path you want your career to take instead of following a predetermined trajectory like other engineering degrees.

Since an applied engineering degree is multidisciplinary (contains lots of small courses within it), you gain diverse skills. For instance, the degree covers several fields like computer science, electrical engineering, data science, mechanical engineering, etc. Individually, all these skills are highly marketable; combined, they make you a well-rounded and adaptable professional. This also means you can easily adapt to changing industry needs.

Job Functions of Applied Engineers

These professionals have a knack for blending technical expertise with real-world applications. In industrial settings such as robotics, aviation, computer drafting, electronics, graphic communications, construction, and nanofabrication, applied engineers showcase a range of skills as they daily tackle a variety of tasks and duties to bring projects to fruition. They utilize statistics in control charts and tables to monitor system integrity, establish quality control systems, execute production timelines, refine inventory systems, utilize production innovation in management, maintain safety and health standards, develop solutions to industrial organization problems, apply marketing and business acumen in the product lifecycle, and more. Top firms looking to hire applied engineers include Northrop Grumman, Ford Motor Company, and Motorola, Inc.

Applied Engineering Degree Coursework

An employer typically requires a Bachelor’s Degree to offer a job to work as an applied engineer. This course of study explores the practical application of principles in the design, creation of products, and systems within a manufacturing context. Programs delve into topics such as quality control, project management, systems integration, manufacturing processes, critical-thinking, and problem-solving capacities. Students take classes in production planning, materials science, and personnel safety. To hold management positions, advanced degrees like a Master’s or Ph.D. may be required. Advanced degree holders also have the credentials to teach at the university level. From a business perspective, individuals seeking executive roles should develop their acumen in budget management and negotiation. Superb communication skills, both oral and written, as well as leadership abilities, are highly coveted.

How to Select a School For Your Applied Engineering Degree

Choosing a school for your undergraduate degree depends on your preferences and circumstances. However, there are key aspects you should examine before making a decision:

Check for Entry Requirements

It’s important to ensure you meet the entry requirements of a school before applying. This will save you time, money, and effort. While most undergraduate programs typically require a high school diploma or its equivalent, many have specific GPA requirements, especially for specialized programs like applied engineering. They may also require students to have completed specific classes in Math and Science, so make sure you meet the minimum qualifications.

Consider Yours and the School’s Location

Location matters for several reasons. If you choose to attend a school away from your state, you may incur travel, relocation, and housing costs. If this isn’t in your budget, you may have to settle for a school near your city or town or opt for an online degree. Even if you decide to relocate for school, you still have to consider housing and living costs in the new state or city.

Check for Accreditation

If you narrow down your options to several schools, make sure the applied engineering programs they offer are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET). ABET ensures that engineering courses meet quality standards in preparing students for their careers.

Facilities and Resources

Most engineering courses, including applied engineering, require hands-on experience. Therefore, the school you choose should have the required facilities to teach the course. It’s not enough for the school to have these facilities; they must also be sufficient and functioning. Consider how many labs, workshops, libraries, or research facilities the school has and what the ratio of these facilities to students is.

Research the Faculty’s Expertise

The qualifications and expertise of the professors teaching the program play a crucial role in its credibility. While not all schools will have the best faculty, faculty expertise is a critical factor that greatly influences the quality of education you receive. Look into the qualifications of the faculty members. Check if they have relevant degrees, certifications, and industry experience in applied engineering or related fields.

Applied Engineering Salary

The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering, along with organizations like the Technology Student Association (TSA) and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), offers resources and materials to candidates in the field. These associations work to provide mentoring and networking opportunities for members and aspiring candidates to enter and advance in the field. Additionally, students can take advantage of alumni networks and on-campus recruitment efforts made by leading firms. 

Employment in engineering occupations is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2022 and 2023, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for this group exceeds $80,000, according to the BLS. That average includes roles with varying entry-level education requirements, including associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees.

Work Environments for Applied Engineering Degree Graduates

Due to the degree’s versatility, applied engineering degree graduates can be found in almost any sector. Collaboration and cross-functional teamwork are often essential components of applied engineering projects, so you can expect to work in teams comprising engineers, scientists, technicians, and project managers. Most industries requiring applied engineering are fast-paced, meaning the work environment will be dynamic. Each day will present new challenges and opportunities to innovate, with higher stakes compared to other careers.

Here are some examples of diverse work environments where applied engineering degree graduates can work:

  • Manufacturing plants
  • Aerospace and aviation
  • Automotive industry
  • Electronics and technology companies
  • Energy
  • Construction and infrastructure
  • Logistics and supply chain management
  • Healthcare
  • Laboratories and testing facilities
  • Office settings

How to Become an Applied Engineer

There are several key steps to becoming an applied engineer, starting with high school preparation. If you know early on in high school that you want to pursue a degree in applied engineering, ensure you take the right subjects and work towards achieving a specific GPA. If you have specific schools in mind, work towards meeting their requirements.

Once you enroll and qualify to enter a college or university, make sure you meet all the course requirements to graduate. This will involve taking specific main and elective courses and maintaining a minimum GPA throughout your undergraduate studies.

Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in applied engineering doesn’t automatically make you an applied engineer. You’ll need hands-on experience in the industry. Apply for internships or graduate programs immediately after graduation or apply for entry-level jobs. By applying what you’ve learned in school to real-life situations, you become an applied engineer. Before your internship or entry-level job, you can take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination. Upon passing, you’ll receive an Engineer in Training (EIT) designation. Once you’ve gained practical experience (preferably four years), you can apply for a PE certification. This certification is especially important if you plan on working in the public sector.

An Example of an Applied Engineering Degree Graduate

Mike Jamieson, a project engineer for applied engineering, exemplifies the range of skills and daily tasks of a practitioner in the field. He engages with team members and associates in-person and over email, focusing on business activities like speaking with suppliers, consulting with clients, and conducting research. He often visits clients and ongoing projects, appreciating the opportunity to interact live with people. One example of his work includes consulting with a manager on an HVAC system for a residential structure. In the evening, he attends industry functions featuring thought leaders to stay updated on technology and best practices. Each day presents him with challenges and learning experiences that enrich him.

Change Your Life with an Applied Engineering Degree

If you enjoy tackling complex problems, thrive in a fast-paced, collaborative environment, and desire a career that offers stability and continuous growth, then an applied engineering degree is the right choice for you.

If you’re interested in becoming an applied engineer, contact the schools below for information about programs near you!

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