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How do you choose what type of engineering to study in college?

Each month we offer some advice from amazing engineers in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE)!

This month, the question is one that we hear a lot from high school students who are trying to decide what type of engineering to study in college. There are so many different types!  Read on for some advice, then check out the video on the SWENext YouTube Channel for more helpful insight!



Fiona Tranter headshotFiona Tranter, Chemical Engineer

Director of Environment, Health and Safety at AbbVie Inc.

It’s important to choose a field of study that interests you. An undergraduate degree with the possibility of going on to post-graduate studies can take several years to complete so choose something that will drive you through the experience…something you are passionate about and will enjoy studying!


Agnes Wozniak, B.S. in Mechanical Engineering; M.S. in Aerospace EngineeringAgnes Wozniak headshot

Lead Systems Engineer at The Boeing Co.

There are so many different types of engineering that I would suggest you focus on your strengths, preferred subjects and what fascinates you. Chemistry was always my weak subject so I knew I wouldn’t make a good Chemical Engineer. I’ve always been fascinated by “things that fly” so Aeronautical Engineering was a better choice. I ended up studying Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate and am now convinced that it really does give you the broadest exposure to many disciplines. From there, you can specialize by taking more classes in one area or another.  For example, I took all of the aerodynamics classes the school offered, including some graduate level ones. If you know you want to go into engineering but just aren’t sure what type, I highly recommend going into Mechanical Engineering which will expose you to Mechanics, Electrical, Aerodynamics and probably Material Sciences.


SWEet Wisdom March 2019Leah Sutton, B.S. Chemical Engineering

Project Engineer at Collins AerospaceSWEet Wisdom March 2019

For me personally I chose based on what courses I enjoyed in high school.  However the book “Is There an Engineer Inside You?” is a great resource to get a good idea of what different types of engineers do in the real world. You can also find information about what it takes to get the specific engineering degree.


And there’s more!

Check out this two-minute SWEet Wisdom video on the SWENext YouTube Channel,  to hear from more women engineers about how to choose which type of engineering to study. Some of them even chose more than one type!

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