What is the difference between engineering and engineering technology?

Admissions counselor Clayton Trette shares the difference between the two

There are a lot of similarities between engineering and engineering technology majors that can sometimes be hard to tell apart. University of Cincinnati admissions counselor Clayton Trette gives his advice on how to choose which is the right fit for you.

Main difference? Design vs. application

Engineering majors in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science will focus on designing the solution to a problem while engineering technology majors will focus on implementing a design to make it real. Both of these fields are essential and will work in similar areas but from differing perspectives. Do you prefer to work in a more hands-on environment as opposed to theoretical work? If so, you may want to lean towards the engineering technology fields. If you like creating novel solutions using theories and frameworks, you may enjoy engineering fields more.  

Do I still co-op as an engineering technology major?


What courses does each major take?

Engineering majors tend to learn higher-level math and physics courses along with fundamental engineering theories. Engineering technology majors will learn more applied math and science, will study established engineering methods and will take part in far more lab work by comparison.   

"Really the only big difference is that the technology program is more hands-on experience. We take roughly nine more labs than the electrical engineering program.

Kirstie Schneider, Electrical Engineering Technology ‘20

What Engineering Technology Programs does UC offer?

  • Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Electrical Engineering Technology

Pro Tip: Don't fall into the misconception that you should choose based on how strong you are in your high school math class. You could be a stellar math student and be a great fit for engineering technology and if you weren’t a straight A math student it doesn’t mean you can’t be an excellent engineer.  

Get involved to help make a decision

Get involved in school and community groups that sponsor teams for FIRST Robotics challenge or FIRST Tech challenge that can help you try out activities for both majors. Another way to get to know the field: contact some local companies and ask about doing an informational interview with one of their engineers or engineering technologists or shadow them for a day. 

Learn more about engineering

Want to know more about engineering? Take a look at the 'What is Engineering?' video series to better understand just what engineers do.