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1 ENGINEERING EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES The purpose of this text is to provide information on engineering education, both at undergraduate and graduate level and professional licensure in engineering in the US.

2 Undergraduate Engineering Programs Undergraduate programs in Engineering include majors in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Biological Engineering, Engineering Systems, and Systems Design and Management. The admissions process for undergraduate degrees in engineering is similar to other programs of study in the US. Read our handout Undergraduate Study in the United States for general information on the application process. On your search for the programs you will apply to, it s important to check if the program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology ( as the status of your undergraduate institution could affect your chances of enrolling graduate school or becoming a certified Professional Engineer. Before deciding to pursue undergraduate studies in Engineering in the US you should also contact the Portuguese Ordem dos Engenheiros ( to know if the US degree will meet the requirements to practice engineering in Portugal. This may not be the case as US programs are not only shorter than Portuguese ones, but there are also major differences in the programs curriculum. See the attached Structure of a Bachelor s Program for an example of a program outline. While searching the right programs to apply, students should also check the faculty list to find out whether teachers are professional or scholars and how is their work oriented (research oriented, professional or academic) so they can choose the programs that best fit their career goals. Junior and Community Colleges offer 2-year technical engineering programs that award the Associate of Science (A.S.) and the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees. After completing an Associate degree, students are qualified to work as technicians or may continue to a four-year institution to earn a Bachelor s degree. The Bachelor s degree in engineering includes a series of general education courses during the first two years, such as humanities, literature, science and math courses. In the final two years students choose from courses that relate to their specific major. Most programs will combine mathematical and scientific theory with laboratory experience. Graduate Engineering Programs In order to be admitted to a graduate program in engineering, students are usually required to have an undergraduate degree in engineering, but a maths or science degree may be acceptable. Some programs will expect students to be familiarized with basic electric circuits and electromagnetic theory. For students who have pursued undergraduate studies outside the US, universities may require that the undergraduate program the student completed is substantially equivalent to an ABET-accredited institution. Portuguese students must prove that their undergraduate program is not only accredited by the Portuguese Ministry of Education but also by the Ordem dos Engenheiros. When choosing to which programs to apply, students must also verify if the program is accredited by the ABET, the board that reviews the quality of university programs and awards accreditation for those schools that meet the minimum standards. Other requirements for admittance in a graduate program will include an official transcript of undergraduate studies, letters of reference, a personal statement, the TOEFL and the GRE tests. Free copies of the TOEFL and GRE bulletins are available at the Fulbright Information Center

3 Master s programs in engineering usually award the Master s of Science (M.S.) or the Master s of Engineering (M.Eng.) degrees. The two highest graduate degrees are the Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, required for those who intend to pursue a career as researchers or teachers. Working as an Engineer in the US Licensing Procedures A license is required before an engineer may practice in the US. Each of the 50 states has a separate licensing board. The first step to earning an engineering license is contacting the licensing board of the state you wish to work. Contact details of all boards are available at Engineers that are licensed are called Professional Engineer (PE). In order to become a PE, engineers must graduate from an ABET-accredited engineering program and pass the state examination. All states have different testing criteria, but most states recognize PE licensure from other states. There are two stages to PE licensure. Engineering students must pass an initial exam, testing basic skills, to become Engineers in Training (ET). Engineers are expected to gain some work experience before the second stage of licensure, which is another exam, entitled the Principles and Practice of Engineering. When both stages are completed engineers have gained the PE license valid in their state. Foreign Graduates Licensing Procedures Foreign educated engineering students first must prove that their engineering program is substantially equivalent to ABET-accredited programs in order to begin the PE licensure process. There are recognized Accreditation Agencies for the assessment of engineers educated outside of the United States. Engineering Credential Evaluation International (ECEI) is an independent service that specializes in assessing the academic qualifications of foreign educated engineers. The 55 different state and territorial boards ensure that practicing engineers are qualified by examining three areas. 1. Academic credentials 2. Experience as a practicing engineer 3. Knowledge (by a series of examinations) To learn more about the procedure please visit Engineering Professional Associations Although the list is not exhaustive, the associations listed below are helpful for prospective students because they can provide insight into specific engineering fields, and have awards for undergraduate students, postgraduate students, and research scholars. These associations are also helpful to job applicants because there might be a professional willing to share his or her experience in a specific occupation or help you in your job search. Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology ( Aerospace Education Foundation ( American Association of Engineering Societies ( American Computer Scientists Association ( IEE Computer Society ( Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society ( At the Fulbright Information Center you can consult the Encyclopedia of Associations for a complete list

4 Additional Resources Education: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ECEI) American Society for Engineering Education - Distance Learning for Engineers - Employment: EngineerJobs.com - Engineering Central - Petroleum and Oil Careers - or petroleum-engineering-job.htm Summer Scholarship Programs - zeus.sequias.cc.ca.us /mesa/scholarship.htm This text was adapted from the information available at the US-UK Fulbright Commission s web site

5 Structure of a Bachelor s Program A typical course outline for a mechanical engineering student: Year First First Semester Credits English.4 Mathematics... 4 Chemistry 5 Eng Computing..3 Physics.4 Mathematics 4 Humanities..5 ME Statics 2 ME Graphics 2 Year Second First Semester Credits Mathematics Physics.4 ME Thermodynam..4 Princ Eng Mat..3 Mathematics ME Solid Mech 3 ME Intro Drawing 3 Humanities..3 Control of Mech Prop.3 Third First Semester Credits Fourth First Semester Credits Math Elective 3 Tech Comm.3 Electronics.3 Human / Soc Sci.3 Electronics (lab) 1 Automatic Control..4 Chem or Physics..3 Technical Elective..6 Fluid Mechanics 4 Mechanical Design 3 Social Science 3 Dyna or Mech Sys.4 Heat Transfer.4 Manufact Process..3 Technical Elective.3 Economics 4 Free Electives..2 Design..3 Technical Elective..6 In this program the student can choose from among four options (general, energy and power, manufacturing, systems/design), which can be completed by selecting appropriate technical electives

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