Carnegie Mellon Engineering

What is Being an Engineer All About?

Engineers are ultimately problem-solvers. They're people who are able to identify a need and investigate its causes to develop a solution.

These solutions manifest in society as new products, like an artificial heart, biometric software, or a car that drives itself. Then there are new policies that improve standards and methods or shape industry and government. There are engineers who build better cities, promote green power, create stronger bridges, build hurricane-safe buildings, and even design the next wild roller coasters. It's up to you and other students like you to decide where the world will go next.

Forget pocket-protectors and slide rules; engineers have some of most exciting jobs in the world. From eco-friendly energy to environmentally sound policy, nano-particles that eat oil spills and cellphones that help the blind buy groceries, career opportunities in engineering are wide-ranging.


So what does it take to become an engineer?

Technical Excellence.  As a top-10 engineering school, it's a given that you will be challenged technically at the College of Engineering. First-years entering the college in Fall 2013 had average SAT scores of 740-800 in math, 670-760 in critical reading, and 680-780 in writing. They represent the top 3% of their high school graduating class, with an average GPA of 3.86. More than 9,300 students applied, with just over 5% enrolled.

Our students take engineering classes from day one, as well as calculus and other technical electives. Classes normally have a lecture, a lab, and a recitation. We offer undergraduate degrees in five traditional disciplines: Chemical Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Materials Science & Engineering, as well as double majors in Biomedical Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy. All of our programs are accredited.


Exploration and Innovation.  Our students must have the ability to think for themselves. Our students are passionate and focused and most come here with ideas of their own, such as projects they started in high school or summer college courses. Our students all have that drive—the need to investigate and ferret out solutions, to build, to invent, to design, to develop. Not only do we recognize it, we welcome you to bring it on!

We prioritize teaching students how to bring their ideas to fruition, not just by enhancing technical skills, but by teaching them how to foster innovation. We teach students to manage the process, to make sure that you have the skills to take your ideas to the highest possible level. We know you have the passion; we will teach you how to harness and apply it.

To learn more about innovation in the College of Engineering, check out our Innovation Brochure.


Intellectual Curiosity. Here, you should expect more than a course schedule and books. We want you to get your hands dirty. Over 60% of our students participate in research during their undergraduate years. You will be given opportunities to work with faculty and can even apply for financial support for your own research projects. Every year, the university hosts an undergraduate research symposium called Meeting of the Minds, where hundreds of students present their research findings. For juniors with a 3.5 GPA, we have an Honors Research program that allows undergraduate seniors the chance to participate in research at a graduate level.


Communication Skills. The stereotypes of engineers are a thing of the past. Students who graduate from the college must be capable of articulating their ideas, contributing successfully in teams, and working collaboratively with non-engineers, such as product designers or business managers. To manage projects, to solve problems, to partner on ideas, to successfully advance your career—these all rely on communication skills.

Verbal and written communication is also essential to innovation. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you can't articulate it, it probably isn't going very far. Our students are required to fulfill general education requirements that include writing classes and electives in humanities and social science.

We also highly encourage our students to take advantage of the other schools on campus. We offer a five-year master's/MBA program with the Tepper Business School, for example. Our students benefit from all kinds of classes, from filmmaking to music, public speaking to statistics, project management to product design.


Diversity of Thinking.  Engineers today work and live all over the globe, and they need to be comfortable in multicultural environments. You may be leading a team building an oil pipeline in United Arab Emirates or wind-resistant buildings in the Philippines, or maybe creating biometric smart cards for use in Brazil. Use your time at Carnegie Mellon to expand your understanding of the world by studying abroad, getting to know international students who are studying here, or learning a new language.

And don't forget, the ability to innovate comes from challenging the norm. When choosing project teams or study partners, don't limit yourself. Take a chance and open yourself and your work up to new ideas and new perspectives. You will surprise yourself with outcomes far greater than if you had worked alone.