April 18, 2022
Professor Jeff Beltramo instructs a student on how to use equipment in the engineering programs lab
Professor Jeff Beltramo instructs a student on how to use equipment in the NHTI machining lab.

 Have you ever noticed that all of NHTI’s engineering programs have the word “Technology” on the end? A quick look around other engineering programs at other institutions shows some have it and some do not. So, what is the difference, really?

Generally speaking, engineers are more theoretical, analytical, and design-oriented while engineering technologists are more hands-on and applications-oriented. In an “engineering” program, students are expected to use higher levels of math and science, thus solutions to a design problem can be developed in a more abstract method. 

In NHTI’s “engineering technology” programs, students are given hands-on lab opportunities where known technology is applied to the solution of design problems.

What are the differences between engineering and engineering technology?

Both types of programs will indeed provide you with the skills necessary to be an engineer, but history can explain it better: Through the 1950s and 60s, there was a push for engineering education programs to become more rigorous with the use and application of math and science to solve problems.

The great space race of the 1960s accelerated – quite literally skyrocketed – demand for scientists and engineers. It was quickly realized that there was a gap in the engineering workforce between the tradesman who made the parts and the engineer/scientist developing new technology to keep us ahead in the space race. The role of the engineering technologist was born to fill this gap.

So, the very thing engineering programs were trying to get away from in the 1950s became the new discipline of engineering technology.

So, which engineering program is right for me?

If the thought of 4 semesters of calculus makes you want to run the other way, engineering technology can be the starter path for you. If you are already thinking engineering graduate school is in your future, then straight engineering will serve you well.

Studies show that most employers who hire engineers of all types make little distinction between engineers and engineering technologists – and those that do are doing so knowingly for the type of engineer they are looking for.

My anecdotal evidence suggests that 5-10 years out of college, you will barely notice the difference between an engineer and an engineering technologist.

The engineering major will realize their shortcomings and inability to use hands-on equipment and take steps to learn those skills on the job, while the engineering technologist will find they want to tackle the harder, more analytical design work and will upgrade their analytical skills through professional development.

NHTI – Your Pathway to Engineering

Regardless of what path you take, upon completion of either, you can proudly wear the title of engineer. And at NHTI, we would love to support you in that journey.  If you have further questions or would like a tour of our labs to get a first-hand look at what it is all about, feel free to contact me at [email protected]or visit our special section where you can see all NHTI engineering programs