We joke at work about how our parents can never remember what type of engineering we specialize in (or even that we’re engineers in some cases). As an architectural engineer (focused on Mechanical Building Systems), most people don’t get past the first word. I’m regularly introduced as an architect, which used to bother me but now I just nod and smile with strangers or people who I know could care less… unless I have the energy to give further clarification. A common question I get after telling people what I majored in is “what is an architectural engineer?”
The easiest way for me to describe a Mechanical Engineer with an Architectural Engineering (AE) background, is to say I work on the comfort systems for a building – such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing… the systems that make being inside more bearable. Other AE’s may work with structural systems (holding the building up), electrical (power and lighting systems) or even construction management.
Last week I found these handy images that explain the difference between architects and architectural engineers even better…
Another graphic from the Newschool of Architecture and Design lays it out in their own way.