Professional Engineering Classes and Courses

In addition to graduating with a degree in engineering, prospective professional engineers must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam (FE) during their final undergraduate year, followed by completion of the Professional Engineering exam (PE) after at least four years of field experience. The courses discussed in this article are part of a typical undergraduate degree program, which is required before either the FE or PE exam can be taken.

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Essential Information

Undergraduate courses leading to a bachelor's degree in engineering are offered through several universities. Students may specialize in several areas of engineering, including civil, mechanical and environmental. Regardless of specialization, individuals must earn their degree and pass both the FE and PE exams in order to become professional engineers.

List of Common Engineering Courses

The following course overviews describe the typical curriculum of some popular courses in engineering degree programs.

Thermodynamics Course

This course teaches the fundamental principles of thermodynamics and their applications for engineering design. Concepts covered include the first and second laws of thermodynamics, energy conversion, closed and open systems, and combustion. Thermodynamics may be taught over one or two semesters, depending on the specific program. Prerequisites may include chemistry, mathematics and physics courses.

Fluid Mechanics Course

Common to both civil and mechanical engineering programs, this course teaches the basic laws, mechanics and applications of fluids, as well as the principles of energy, conservation and momentum. Other topics may include flow and potential flow of both compressible and incompressible fluids, dynamic similarity, boundary layer theory and airfoil theory. Students may be required to have completed a course in thermodynamics as a prerequisite.

Heat Transfer Course

In this course, students learn the properties of heat transfer through a variety of methods, including radiation, convection and conduction. Both natural and forced conductive transfer is covered, along with steady state and transient conduction. Other topics usually include heat exchangers and a study of solar energy. A prerequisite may include a course in fluid mechanics that focuses on civil or mechanical engineering.

Mechanics of Materials Course

A mechanics of materials course is found in both the civil and mechanical engineering programs. This course examines the materials used by engineers and the ways in which they are affected by stress, strain and deformation. Subject matter includes a study of the reactions in load-bearing structures to tension, torsion, bending and compression, as well as mechanical concepts such as elasticity, plasticity, composites, and continuum and fracture mechanics.

In some programs, usually mechanical engineering, a lab course in this subject introduces students to specific engineering solutions to material problems. Students may be required to make mathematical predictions, collect and analyze data and measurements, and write formal engineering reports.

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    • Bachelor
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  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Math
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
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      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Geological Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Systems Engineering
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    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Engineering Physics
      • Math

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