By DeVry University
Interested in engineering technology but don’t know where to start? We can help. We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most commonly asked questions to help you gain a clearer understanding of what engineering technology is and whether a degree in the field is right for you. Get the details from DeVry’s engineering experts in this informative FAQ.
Meet DeVry University’s Engineering Experts:
- Natalie Waksmanski-Krynski, Ph.D: Professor and Faculty Chair in the College of Engineering and Information Sciences
- James Karagiannes, Ph.D: Faculty Chair in the College of Engineering and Information Sciences
- Suga N. Suganthan, Ed.D., P.E., SMIEEE: National Faculty Chair in the College of Engineering and Information Sciences
Here are their answers to some of your most commonly asked questions about engineering technology:
What is Engineering Technology?
Waksmanski-Krynski: Engineering technology is the practical application of science and engineering. A degree in engineering technology emphasizes problem-solving and soft skills, while exploring the details of digital and electrical systems. Students with an engineering technology degree are prepared for application-oriented careers in industries including—but not limited to—manufacturing, field-service, marketing, technical sales, product development or quality control.
How is Engineering Technology Different from Traditional Engineering?
Karagiannes: Traditional engineering is primarily concerned with research and development. It involves a higher level of math and is much more theoretical, whereas engineering technology focuses more on applying theories.
Someone with an engineering technology degree—like an engineering technician—is really the person who is practicing in the field. For instance, let's say you work for a cell phone company. You may have an engineer who designs the antenna arrays and phone parts, but if you're the engineering technician you’re going to take those designs and implement them until the phone works correctly. If you're looking for a career that is more vocational rather than theoretical, and you want to be involved when it comes to deploying designs and equipment or troubleshooting and repairing technologies, then engineering technology may be a good fit for you because that’s often the kind of work you’ll do in the field.
What is Electronics Engineering Technology?
Suganthan: Electronics engineering technology is a subsector of engineering technology that focuses more on the hardware side. Let’s use the example of a company that wants to design a new cell phone. Someone in electronics engineering would focus more on the actual hardware of the phone like the kind of electronic components and processor the phone needs. An electronics engineering technician will work with an electronics engineer who will design a prototype for the cell phone while the electronic engineering technician focuses more on installing the phone’s hardware designs and testing them. In this instance, an electronics engineering technician may test the phone’s prototype and ask questions like “how does the hardware work? How can we get it to work better?” The electronics engineering technician will test the phone and discuss potential hardware changes with the engineer until they design the best product, so there’s a lot of teamwork and collaboration.
What is Computer Engineering Technology? How is it Different from Computer Science?
Karagiannes: The term computer engineering technology refers to the blend of computational systems with electronic systems. Computer engineering technology focuses a lot on designing and building microprocessors, which are the rudimentary parts of a computer. From an engineering standpoint, specialists in computer engineering technology focus on hardware aspects like a computer's processor and RAM, but they also write a bit of code. It's like a cross between electrical engineering and computer science.
But the main difference between computer engineering technology vs. computer science is that if you work in computer engineering technology, you'll focus more on on coding at a lower level such as machine language. Sometimes the coding can also span up to Python or C++ but it all focuses on giving instructions to a microprocessor versus writing a software package. Computer support specialists don't write software. Instead, they configure the microprocessor to take instructions from software.
How Do You Become an Engineering Technician?
Suganthan: Many companies in engineering technology will want potential new hires to have hands-on experience and certifications, in addition to an associate degree or higher. The industry wants engineering technicians who can hit the ground running and start working with their teams from day one—and that’s what makes DeVry so different because we help prepare our students for this. Our curriculum provides hands-on learning opportunities, and select programs help students prepare to pursue pertinent certifications in their field.
What Programs Does DeVry Offer in Engineering Technology?
Karagiannes: DeVry University offers the following degree programs in Engineering Technology:
How Do I Choose a Specialization in Engineering Technology?
Karagiannes: When I talk to students about their specialization, I try to encourage them to keep an open mind. Because the curriculum for certain programs at DeVry will likely be the same during their freshman and sophomore year regardless of the specialization they choose, they have plenty of time to explore, think and decide what their final path will be.
We also offer an undecided option in certain programs for any student who wants to start by building a core set of tech skills that they can easily transfer to a corresponding program or specialization at DeVry—including engineering technology— without losing credits.
But if you’re serious about engineering technology and would still rather know your specialization before you start classes, then some questions you can ask yourself are:
- What kind of skills do I have? Do I like to perform tasks where I’m physically touching and tinkering with objects or am I better at applying logical thinking to find patterns and solve problems?
- Which industries am I most interested in?
- In my free time, do I like learning about cars, IoT, the environment and sustainable energy, phones and wireless technology?
- What kind of environment would I want to work in? Am I more interested in operating in a virtual world where I’m coding and producing certain results with code? Or would I rather work in person on a team where I interact more?
What's One Piece of Advice You Would Give Someone Interested in Engineering Technology?
Karagiannes: Don't enter the field because you plan on getting a specific job or earning a certain amount of money. I try to encourage my students to approach their degree differently. While it’s fine to want to make a good living for yourself, if you're interested in an engineering technology degree it's better to think about what you will enjoy learning and doing. Go into the field because you want to test, implement and design new technologies using hands-on technical skills. Go into the field because you love IoT and the way devices are integrated into every part of our lives, and you want to work on teams that are at the forefront of designing these technologies. Go for passion—because this is a field that requires people who are dedicated to the industry and determined enough to solve problems over time.
Waksmanski-Krynski: Be ready to have fun! You will be building, repairing and bringing a theory to life. If you find yourself struggling with new concepts as you learn, leverage the expertise and care your professors provide. Our professors are always willing to take time for you and answer questions because, ultimately, we want you to enjoy what you learn.
Suganthan: When someone thinks they may be interested in studying engineering technology, especially at DeVry, I always tell them that they’ll need three things: the desire to learn, a willingness to invest the time to learn and the willingness to execute what you’re learning in labs and projects. We will help you figure out the rest. Our faculty offer multiple ways to support students from online video tutorials to hosting tech huddles, presentations and digital office hours. As long as the student is willing to put in the time, we're here to help them pursue their goals.