What is Architectural Engineering?
As the name implies, Architectural Engineering is related to both Architecture as well as Engineering. Architectural Engineers are constructors and designers of the various structural, mechanical and electrical systems which provide safety, durability, comfort and functional performance for building occupants. To accomplish this, the Architectural Engineer must have a basic knowledge of architecture and in-depth understanding of engineering design and construction.
The education of the architectural engineer therefore places emphasis on three main areas: natural science, engineering theory and architectural concepts. A basic understanding of the building as a multi-disciplinary system is the essence of Architectural Engineering. Buildings have historically reflected the culture of their time. They are physical examples of what is being considered aesthetically proper and most technologically advanced. These elements, aesthetics and building technology represent the fundamentals of architectural engineering.
An architectural engineer is able to convert architectural concepts into three dimensional realities through his expertise in construction, cost control and project management. The graduate program in Architectural Engineering also offers an excellent opportunity for specialization and research in areas related to Building Environmental Control Systems as well as Construction Maintenance and Management. There are opportunities for creative research and for further studies for PhD degrees in related areas.
● Architectural Engineers vs. Architects
Architects are usually the professionals who design the basic components and framework of a building including its aesthetics (beauty). They also try to ensure that the fundamental objectives of the building's owner or users are satisfied. Architectural engineers on the other hand, are the professionals who are responsible for providing the detail designs of the various building systems, which include structural, Mechanical (including HVAC and plumbing), electrical (including lighting) fire protection systems- using their knowledge and skills of of building engineering science as well as physics and mathematics.
So, while Architects are trained to think top down, to synthesize a global solution, which may be later refined or abandoned in light of emerging information; Engineers are trained to analyze available data and to solve problems bottom up, following a more systematic process toward a single, "best" solution.
● Architectural Engineers vs. Other Engineers
The most important difference between Architectural Engineering and other engineering disciplines (e.g. Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering), is the multi-disciplined approach to solving building engineering problems. This is because, Architectural Engineers have some fundamental training and appreciation of architecture in addition to the ability of its parishioners to integrate building systems in the overall building design. Architectural Engineers are able to design building systems such as:
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
- Fire Protection systems
- Electrical and lighting systems
- Vertical transportation systems
- Structural systems
- Acoustical Design
Certain universities which offer Architectural Engineering degrees require their students to specialize (concentrate) on one of the systems. In other universities, students can obtain a generalized Architectural or Building Engineering degree.