Major public works such as tunnels and dams generally meet all three criteria for being called an engineering project.
The phrase engineering projects is not a technical term. It can refer to any of three things. It can simply mean any project in which engineering plays a role, projects in which the engineering design process is employed, or work overseen by a design engineer.
With the first meaning, engineering projects are often used to apply to science fair projects or other projects that involve engineering in some way – that is, where something is built, a vague understanding of engineering – but they are not. created following the engineering design process. That this happens with science fair projects, for example, may be because scientific inquiry has long been taught in school, while the design process has not received as much attention. This can also happen because science fairs may require project entries to follow the steps of scientific investigation.
The second meaning of engineering projects refers to projects that are like the first in all respects, except that they make use of the engineering design process. To understand the difference between the first and second meanings of engineering design, it is necessary to understand the difference between scientific inquiry and the design process. That’s because while scientific inquiry and the engineering design process have similarities, they address different goals.
Scientific inquiry involves identifying questions that can be answered through inquiry; design and conduct an investigation; using appropriate tools and techniques to collect, analyze and interpret data; and using logical thinking about evidence to develop descriptions, models, explanations and predictions, which can then be shared. The engineering design process involves defining a need, doing background research, establishing design criteria, preparing preliminary designs or drafts, building and testing a prototype, testing and redesigning as appropriate, and presenting the results. Thus, scientific inquiry focuses on answering questions and engineering designs of the second type on meeting needs.
Third type engineering projects also use the engineering design process and focus on meeting needs. In addition, they are linked to the hierarchical system of engineering qualifications. Engineers must be licensed in the United States and elsewhere.
A new licensing model was recommended by a NCEES (National Council of Examiners of Engineering and Surveying) task force in 2003. In this model, a Graduate Engineer has completed his training, an Associate Engineer has also passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE ), a Registered Engineer is the first level of licensing and means that the Associate Engineer has had four years of experience and has agreed to their state board’s code of ethics, and a Professional Engineer is the second level of licensing, offered to registered engineers who have passed the Engineering Principles and Practices (EP) exam.
In this scheme, a graduate engineer does not have the privilege of practicing engineering. At the Associate Engineer level, he or she may be an Associate Project Engineer. Full responsibility for engineering designs cannot be assumed until the person reaches the level of Professional Engineer, at which point the person can legally assume responsibility for engineering documents, including designs.