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Professional art of applying science to the optimum conversion of the resources of nature to the uses of humankind. Engineering is based principally on physics, chemistry, and mathematics and their extensions into materials science, solid and fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, transfer and rate processes, and systems analysis. A great body of special knowledge is associated with engineering; preparation for professional practice involves extensive training in the application of that knowledge. Engineers employ two types of natural resources, materials and energy. Materials acquire uses that reflect their properties: their strength, ease of fabrication, lightness, or durability; their ability to insulate or conduct; and their chemical, electrical, or acoustical properties. Important sources of energy include fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, gas), wind, sunlight, falling water, and nuclear fission. See alsoaerospace engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering. genetic engineering, mechanical engineering, military engineering.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on engineering, visit Britannica.com.