Architectural engineers apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering principles to design structural systems, components, or processes for new or existing residential, commercial, and industrial construction. They generate a conceptual framework and bring building projects to fruition from planning to development to construction by integrating the economic, functional, safety, and aesthetic aspects of modern materials and building systems (such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, communications, lighting, air conditioning) into the general architectural design of a building. In sum, architectural engineers are responsible for ensuring the structural integrity of a building within the design boundaries normally defined by the architect. Some individuals choose to specialize in structural, mechanical, electrical, or acoustical systems, but must have aggregate knowledge of all the essential technical requirements of designing a building structure.
Architectural engineers work on multi-professional teams represented by architects, mechanical and electrical engineers, clients, contractors, lawyers, public officials, and financial specialists. They enter the scene once an architect secures a contract. Their work activities revolve around conducting tests and feasibility studies, performing structural analysis and physical needs assessments, furnishing seismic reviews, interpreting structural data, providing design, preparing detailed plans and drawings, estimating construction and maintenance cost, producing technical reports, and managing partial or complete building projects. Their primary job function is to recognize, articulate, and present solutions to engineering challenges. It’s expected that architectural engineers possess design experience with steel, masonry, wood, light gauge, framing, concrete, and tilt-up structures.
A typical Architectural Engineering curriculum consists of the traditional architectural design coursework coupled with engineering courses as well as the courses specifically related to architectural engineering. Architectural engineers may find employment in private professional consulting companies, architectural and engineering firms, building products sales outlets, government or private research groups and agencies. Academic positions normally require an advanced degree. As with most engineering professionals, architectural engineers must be licensed. Customarily, the groundwork toward licensure in engineering starts during the last semester of an engineering curriculum. Upon satisfying the eligibility criteria, candidates may take an examination to be granted a license as a Professional Engineer (PE).
Students interested in pursuing a Bachelor’s degree should consult with an academic and/or transfer counselor to discuss university transfer requirements.
Key Skills and Characteristics
- Expertise in structural design of buildings, steel, wood, or concrete structures, technical specifications, and building codes.
- Aesthetic appreciation and knowledge of architectural design principles.
- Competency in the use of Word, Excel, AutoCAD, and other architectural and graphics software.
- Comfortable with handling multiple projects simultaneously in a self-directed manner.
- Ability to write technical reports and give effective oral presentations.
- Strong supervisory and leadership track record.
Related Career Titles
*Structural or Mechanical or Civil or Acoustical Engineer *Project Manager *Building Materials and Products Marketing Associate *Mechanical or Electrical or Lighting or Acoustical Consultant or Designer
Please visit the GCC Career Center to research specific occupational information and learn more about your selected career path.