Calling the Dreamers, Builders and Innovators: Get Your Career in Engineering Started
The numbers say it all: in the United States in 2018, Black students accounted for only 7% of bachelor’s degrees in STEM subjects, and only 5% of the engineering workforce. Clearly, African American students are severely underrepresented in engineering programs at our nation’s colleges and universities and, consequently, in the field of professional engineering. And like most career fields, improving diversity and representation starts with our educational systems.
If you’re great at math and science, and you thrive as part of a team, engineering might be an excellent job for you. Engineering provides a stimulating career for people who enjoy solving puzzles, have big ideas and who use challenges and setbacks as an opportunity to develop and improve.
You can tailor your abilities to a certain area of interest within the profession—which is quite broad—such as computer engineering, chemical engineering and electrical engineering, among others. Regardless of how you concentrate your studies, engineering jobs are in high demand, are a profession with stability, and generally provide a good salary.
Want to build the next Tesla? Patent wireless electricity? Land the next SpaceX rocket? In high school, getting involved in anything and everything STEM-related is a smart move. Take advanced math and science courses as they’re offered, and talk to your teachers to learn about extracurricular activities and other ways you can get involved.
Whatever their interest, students who plan to pursue careers in engineering will need to enroll in a degree program in this field. The five main types of engineering include civil engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and industrial engineering. Engineering programs include a wide range of related course subjects, such as:
- Structural analysis
- Mechanics of materials
- Topographic drawing and surveying
- Mathematics, including calculus and differential equations
- Science (varies depending on engineering specialization)
- Computer science
Careers in Engineering
Graduates in this field may pursue careers in a wide variety of capacities. Some of these include engineering roles in:
- Automotive products
- Civil infrastructure
- Drafting and design
- Electrical systems and products
Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in engineering? Looking for help with financing this degree?
How to Prepare for Success
In order to be successful, students in engineering should have excellent advanced math, science, and computer skills. They should also be good at problem-solving, attention to detail, teamwork and communication.
Schools to Consider
To enter the field of engineering, students must earn a bachelor’s degree; some roles require a master’s degree. As you start searching for a college, check to see which are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Make sure to thoroughly research each school’s engineering departments. Do students have to transfer to a different school to complete their degree? Do they have up-to-date technology in their classrooms? In such a quickly-changing field, gaining experience with the latest systems and technologies is key.
Several UNCF-member schools offer high-quality engineering programs that allow students to focus on their specific areas of interest:
- Claflin University
- Florida Memorial University
- Morehouse College
- Xavier University of Louisiana
- Stillman College
- Virginia Union University
- Wilberforce University
There are also many professional engineering organizations that can provide more insight into some of the specializations in this discipline:
- American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES)
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
- American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- Association of Energy Engineers (AEE)
There’s no better way to start on your path toward a successful career in engineering than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for engineering majors, like the UNCF STEM Scholars Program. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements.
Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study engineering.
As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in engineering. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!