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Engineering science

Juan R. González Álvarez
Juan R. González Álvarez
Engineering science is the discipline that synthesizes systems in an industrial environment, focusing on the general application of scientific principles to solve the complex problems posed by industry and society. Engineering science underpins all modern engineering practice.

The term “engineering” derives from the Latin “ingeniare” which means “to devise”. Traditional main branches of engineering science include industrial and engineering chemistry. Some recent branches are engineering biology [1] and nanoengineering.
The synthesis generally require a large number of steps, referred to as “unit operations” and “unit processes” in the engineering literature [2]. Many radical advances in modern engineering are only made possible by new materials designed by synthetic scientists to have the properties that engineers need. At the same time, engineering is fundamental to the design of new laboratory equipment.
Steel pipes in a plant - modified from a photograph by fanjianhua
Steel pipes in a plant - modified from a photograph by fanjianhua
Engineering scientists have the skills to conduct scientific research and use the results to develop and design new materials, devices, sensors, and processes for a diverse range of application in communication, transportation, energy production, health, security, environment, and other cutting-edge commercial applications. Engineering science covers a wide range of subjects, from microelectronics to offshore oil rigs.
Traditionally, engineering has been considered different from science, because the latter has traditionally been misunderstood by many engineers and philosophers of science. Some engineers quote Theodore von Kármán saying: “Scientists study the world as it is, engineers create the world that has never been” [3]. However, this is a gross mischaracterization of science that ignores traditional branches like inorganic chemical synthesis; as Marcelin Berthelot stated, “La chimie crée son object [chemistry creates its object]” [4].
It seems that those engineers and philosophers have missed the entire history of chemistry from the 16th century to recent times. The Chemical Abstract Service has been recording the phenomenal growth in patent filings over the last decade, with the number of chemistry-related patent publications increasing by more than five hundred percent, with the majority of patents registering new molecules that did not exist in nature before. Engineering chemistry is concerned with synthesizing new materials or recreating existing materials in industrial chemical plants.
Engineering science is closely related to synthetic science, with the main difference between the two being the scale. The industrial environment in which engineering science is practiced involves not only large scale synthesis but also series production.
  1. Foundations for engineering biology 2005: Nature 438, 449–453. Endy, D.
  2. For example, there are over a hundred unit operations/processes used in food processing: pasteurization, sterilization, freezing, chilling, drying, mixing, emulsifying, tumbling, pumping, conveying, packing, gelatinization, hydrolysis, oxidation, browning, protein denaturation, vitamin destruction, destruction and growth of micro-organisms, fruit ripening, etc.
  3. FAQ | Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences | West Virginia University Institute of Technology 2022 November 16 (access): Author not available.
  4. Some reflections on Chemistry – Molecular, Supramolecular and Beyond 2001: In Chemistry for the 21st Century; WILEY-VCH GmbH; Keinan, Ehud (Editor); Schechter, Israel (Editor). Lehn, Jean Marie.
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Juan R. González Álvarez
Juan R. González Álvarez @juanrga

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