The term engineering is derived from the word engineer , which itself dates back to when an engine'er literally, one who builds or operates a siege engine referred to "a constructor of military engines. Notable examples of the obsolete usage which have survived to the present day are military engineering corps, e.
Army Corps of Engineers. The word "engine" itself is of even older origin, ultimately deriving from the Latin ingenium c. Later, as the design of civilian structures, such as bridges and buildings, matured as a technical discipline, the term civil engineering  entered the lexicon as a way to distinguish between those specializing in the construction of such non-military projects and those involved in the discipline of military engineering.
Other monuments, no longer standing, such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Pharos of Alexandria , were important engineering achievements of their time and were considered among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The six classic simple machines were known in the ancient Near East.
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The wedge and the inclined plane ramp were known since prehistoric times. The earliest civil engineer known by name is Imhotep. Ancient Greece developed machines in both civilian and military domains. The Antikythera mechanism , an early known mechanical analog computer ,   and the mechanical inventions of Archimedes , are examples of Greek mechanical engineering.
Some of Archimedes' inventions as well as the Antikythera mechanism required sophisticated knowledge of differential gearing or epicyclic gearing , two key principles in machine theory that helped design the gear trains of the Industrial Revolution, and are still widely used today in diverse fields such as robotics and automotive engineering. Ancient Chinese, Greek, Roman and Hunnic armies employed military machines and inventions such as artillery which was developed by the Greeks around the 4th century BC,  the trireme , the ballista and the catapult.
In the Middle Ages, the trebuchet was developed. The earliest practical wind-powered machines, the windmill and wind pump , first appeared in the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age , in what are now Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, by the 9th century AD.
The cotton gin was invented in India by the 6th century AD,  and the spinning wheel was invented in the Islamic world by the early 11th century,  both of which were fundamental to the growth of the cotton industry. The spinning wheel was also a precursor to the spinning jenny , which was a key development during the early Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. The earliest programmable machines were developed in the Muslim world. A music sequencer , a programmable musical instrument , was the earliest type of programmable machine. The first music sequencer was an automated flute player invented by the Banu Musa brothers, described in their Book of Ingenious Devices , in the 9th century.
He described four automaton musicians, including drummers operated by a programmable drum machine , where they could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns. Before the development of modern engineering, mathematics was used by artisans and craftsmen, such as millwrights , clockmakers , instrument makers and surveyors. Aside from these professions, universities were not believed to have had much practical significance to technology.
A standard reference for the state of mechanical arts during the Renaissance is given in the mining engineering treatise De re metallica , which also contains sections on geology, mining and chemistry. De re metallica was the standard chemistry reference for the next years. The science of classical mechanics , sometimes called Newtonian mechanics, formed the scientific basis of much of modern engineering. Similarly, in addition to military and civil engineering, the fields then known as the mechanic arts became incorporated into engineering.
Canal building was an important engineering work during the early phases of the Industrial Revolution. John Smeaton was the first self-proclaimed civil engineer and is often regarded as the "father" of civil engineering. He was an English civil engineer responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours, and lighthouses. He was also a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist. Using a model water wheel, Smeaton conducted experiments for seven years, determining ways to increase efficiency.
Smeaton designed the third Eddystone Lighthouse —59 where he pioneered the use of ' hydraulic lime ' a form of mortar which will set under water and developed a technique involving dovetailed blocks of granite in the building of the lighthouse. He is important in the history, rediscovery of, and development of modern cement , because he identified the compositional requirements needed to obtain "hydraulicity" in lime; work which led ultimately to the invention of Portland cement.
Applied science lead to the development of the steam engine. The sequence of events began with the invention the barometer and the measurement of atmospheric pressure by Evangelista Torricelli in , demonstration of the force of atmospheric pressure by Otto von Guericke using the Magdeburg hemispheres in , laboratory experiments by Denis Papin , who built experimental model steam engines and demonstrated the use of a piston, which he published in Edward Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Worcester published a book of inventions containing a method for raising waters similar to a coffee percolator.
Samuel Morland , a mathematician and inventor who worked on pumps, left notes at the Vauxhall Ordinance Office on a steam pump design that Thomas Savery read.
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The application of steam powered cast iron blowing cylinders for providing pressurized air for blast furnaces lead to a large increase in iron production in the late 18th century. The higher furnace temperatures made possible with steam powered blast allowed for the use of more lime in blast furnaces , which enabled the transition from charcoal to coke. The puddling process , patented by Henry Cort in produced large scale quantities of wrought iron. Hot blast , patented by James Beaumont Neilson in , greatly lowered the amount of fuel needed to smelt iron.
With the development of the high pressure steam engine, the power to weight ratio of steam engines made practical steamboats and locomotives possible. One of the most famous engineers of the mid 19th century was Isambard Kingdom Brunel , who built railroads, dockyards and steamships. The Industrial Revolution created a demand for machinery with metal parts, which led to the development of several machine tools. Boring cast iron cylinders with precision was not possible until John Wilkinson invented his boring machine , which is considered the first machine tool.
Precision machining techniques were developed in the first half of the 19th century. These included the use of gigs to guide the machining tool over the work and fixtures to hold the work in the proper position. Machine tools and machining techniques capable of producing interchangeable parts lead to large scale factory production by the late 19th century.
The United States census of listed the occupation of "engineer" for the first time with a count of 2, In there were a dozen U. In , there were 6, engineers in civil, mining , mechanical and electrical. There was no chair of applied mechanism and applied mechanics at Cambridge until , and no chair of engineering at Oxford until Germany established technical universities earlier.
The foundations of electrical engineering in the s included the experiments of Alessandro Volta , Michael Faraday , Georg Ohm and others and the invention of the electric telegraph in and the electric motor in The theoretical work of James Maxwell see: Maxwell's equations and Heinrich Hertz in the late 19th century gave rise to the field of electronics. The later inventions of the vacuum tube and the transistor further accelerated the development of electronics to such an extent that electrical and electronics engineers currently outnumber their colleagues of any other engineering specialty.
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Aeronautical engineering deals with aircraft design process design while aerospace engineering is a more modern term that expands the reach of the discipline by including spacecraft design. Its origins can be traced back to the aviation pioneers around the start of the 20th century although the work of Sir George Cayley has recently been dated as being from the last decade of the 18th century.
Early knowledge of aeronautical engineering was largely empirical with some concepts and skills imported from other branches of engineering. Only a decade after the successful flights by the Wright brothers , there was extensive development of aeronautical engineering through development of military aircraft that were used in World War I. Meanwhile, research to provide fundamental background science continued by combining theoretical physics with experiments. Engineering is a broad discipline which is often broken down into several sub-disciplines. Although an engineer will usually be trained in a specific discipline, he or she may become multi-disciplined through experience.
Engineering is often characterized as having four main branches:    chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.
Chemical engineering is the application of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering principles in order to carry out chemical processes on a commercial scale, such as the manufacture of commodity chemicals , specialty chemicals , petroleum refining , microfabrication , fermentation , and biomolecule production.
Civil engineering is the design and construction of public and private works, such as infrastructure airports, roads, railways, water supply, and treatment etc. It is traditionally considered to be separate from military engineering.
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Software engineering is the design, construction, validation and maintenance of software systems. It is essential for building today's transportation systems, financial systems, e-commerce systems, etc. It is the engineering discipline behind the information revolution. Interdisciplinary engineering draws from more than one of the principle branches of the practice. Historically, naval engineering and mining engineering were major branches.
Other engineering fields are manufacturing engineering , acoustical engineering , corrosion engineering , instrumentation and control , aerospace , automotive , computer , electronic , information engineering , petroleum , environmental , systems , audio , software , architectural , agricultural , biosystems , biomedical ,  geological , textile , industrial , materials ,  and nuclear engineering. New specialties sometimes combine with the traditional fields and form new branches — for example, Earth systems engineering and management involves a wide range of subject areas including engineering studies , environmental science , engineering ethics and philosophy of engineering.
Like the name suggests, aerospace engineering study, design, manufacture aircraft, satellites, rockets, helicopters, and so on. It closely studies the pressure difference and aerodynamics of a vehicle to ensure safety and efficiency. Since most of the studies are related to fluids, it is applied to any moving vehicles such as cars.
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Marine engineering is associated with anything on or near the ocean. Examples are, but not limited to, ships, submarines, oil rigs, structure, watercraft propulsion, on-board design and development, plants, harbors, and so on. It requires a combined knowledge in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering,and some programming abilities.
One who practices engineering is called an engineer , and those licensed to do so may have more formal designations such as Professional Engineer , Chartered Engineer , Incorporated Engineer , Ingenieur , European Engineer , or Designated Engineering Representative. In the engineering design process, engineers apply mathematics and sciences such as physics to find novel solutions to problems or to improve existing solutions.
More than ever, engineers are now required to have a proficient knowledge of relevant sciences for their design projects. As a result, many engineers continue to learn new material throughout their career. If multiple solutions exist, engineers weigh each design choice based on their merit and choose the solution that best matches the requirements. The crucial and unique task of the engineer is to identify, understand, and interpret the constraints on a design in order to yield a successful result.
It is generally insufficient to build a technically successful product, rather, it must also meet further requirements. Constraints may include available resources, physical, imaginative or technical limitations, flexibility for future modifications and additions, and other factors, such as requirements for cost, safety , marketability, productivity, and serviceability.
By understanding the constraints, engineers derive specifications for the limits within which a viable object or system may be produced and operated. Engineers use their knowledge of science , mathematics , logic , economics , and appropriate experience or tacit knowledge to find suitable solutions to a problem. Creating an appropriate mathematical model of a problem often allows them to analyze it sometimes definitively , and to test potential solutions.