Engineering vs. Engineering Technology

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How are they different?

Engineering and engineering technology are separate but closely related professional areas. Here are some of the ways they differ:

Curricular Focus

Engineering programs often focus on theory and conceptual design, while engineering technology programs usually focus on application and implementation.

Also, engineering programs typically require additional, higher-level mathematics, including multiple semesters of calculus and calculus-based theoretical science courses. Engineering technology programs typically focus on algebra, trigonometry, applied calculus, and other courses that are more practical than theoretical in nature.

Career Paths

Graduates from engineering programs are called engineers. They often pursue entry-level work involving conceptual design or research and development. Many continue on to graduate-level work in engineering.

Graduates of four-year engineering technology programs are called technologists, while graduates of two-year engineering technology programs are called technicians. These professionals are most likely to enter positions in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, product design, testing, or technical services and sales. Those who pursue further study often consider engineering, or facilities management, or business administration.

Of course, there is much overlap between the fields. Engineers may pursue MBAs and open their own consulting firms, while technologists may spend their entire careers in design capacities.

Differences in ABET Accreditation

For ABET accreditation, engineering and engineering technology programs are reviewed and accredited by two separate accreditation commissions, using two separate sets of accreditation criteria: the Engineering Accreditation Commission and the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission.

ABET Facts

Accredited Programs at Women’s Colleges

Smith College was the first women's college to have an ABET-accredited program. Its engineering science program has been accredited since 2003.