Online College Courses in Engineering
Engineering is an exceptionally broad field, with many applications across a variety of highly technical disciplines. Branches include biological, chemical, petroleum, process, mechanical, electrical, computer, biomedical, aeronautical, civil — just to name a few. As such, it is difficult to find courses in "engineering" as a category in and of itself. However, there are dozens of courses in the various engineering concentrations, most typically covering introductory-level concepts.
Probably the most popular online engineering courses are in mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. These courses familiarize students with the fundamental physical, electrical, and computational laws and relationships that define the basis of an engineer's professional tasks and responsibilities. Topics covered include dynamics, thermodynamics, circuitry, power, load capacity, tensile strength, deformation, and programming. Some online colleges offer complete degrees in engineering — mostly computer engineering, as the educational delivery platform itself is well-suited to the material — but generally students will only find introductory- and intermediate-level engineering classes, largely because as the concepts become more advanced, an engineering curriculum will become more project-based. Thus, students who are just beginning their engineering education will be ideal candidates for online courses in engineering.
As engineering is a practical field, and people's lives sometimes depend on the assiduous work of an engineer, an educational board — called the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) — reviews engineering programs and certifies that their curricula are high-caliber and meet the standards ABET has established for engineers. With this in mind, it is very important for students to investigate prospective online engineering programs and verify that they are ABET-accredited.
Engineering and Your Career
Pursuing a career in engineering without a degree in engineering to support it is next to impossible. Engineers are highly trained, highly skilled thinkers on whose shoulders rest the weight of projects such as bridges, pharmaceutical products, roads, commercial vehicles — in short, projects in which people's lives and livelihoods depend on the successful application of principles by a team of engineers. The beginning courses of an engineering degree are perhaps the most important because they provide the foundation for the rest of the knowledge that a student will learn. What is taught in an introductory class will be the launching pad for more advanced courses, which in turn will inform even more advanced projects and research. Students must have sufficient knowledge in the basics before moving on to become successful engineers, so enrollment and excellence in these classes is essential.
Free Online Engineering Courses:
- MIT OpenCourseWare: Mechanical Engineering
- MIT OpenCourseWare: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
- Saylor.org: Mechanical Engineering
- Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative