What does an Engineering Professor do?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

An engineering professor may do many things and work at a variety of colleges. Some are most interested in teaching beginning classes at the junior college level, while others teach at four-year universities or those colleges that offer graduate programs. Their responsibilities most often include teaching, but may include other things too.

A master's degree in engineering is required to become an engineering professor.
A master's degree in engineering is required to become an engineering professor.

To become an engineering professor, people will need at minimum, a master’s degree in one of the different engineering disciplines. People often specialize in certain types of engineering (mechanical, electrical, civil, environmental, etc), and are likely to teach courses in their area of specialty. It should be noted that except at junior colleges, a doctorate in some form of engineering is usually required for employment. At a junior or community college it may be possible to be a professor with only a master’s degree.

At the community college level, the principal job of the engineering professor is to teach first and second year courses in the subject. These teachers could also work as academic advisors for those interested in majoring in the subject, and they’ll keep office hours to help students who are taking their classes. Many of these teachers who work full time teach five classes per term.

At universities, the jobs of the engineering professor could be differently constructed. These teachers may still teach three to four classes per term, but they may teach them in both beginning and more advanced subjects. Part of the job still means helping out students taking their classes, but they could be responsible for supervising graduate students and acting as advisors to them or supervising their graduate projects as thesis or doctorate advisors.

In a number of schools, emphasis is placed on publishing, and the engineering professor could thus be engaged in a variety of research projects that will lead to publication. In this context they may employ engineering students, particularly at the graduate level, who become research assistants. Some classes could be taught or partially taught by graduate students too, and an engineering professor might need to supervise students learning to teach or employ them as teaching assistants.

Work for the engineering professor doesn’t necessarily exist solely at a university. Professors may work with a variety of businesses needing their help and consult with them. Given the extra jobs that the professor in a full college might perform it is not surprising that they tend to teach fewer classes than professors do at the community college level.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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