Ever wondered why every trip to the mall is so comfortable? – be it the lighting, the plumbing, the cooling or the acoustics. Why does nothing go wrong with the residential premises you live in? It is the architectural engineer who is responsible for the safety, feasibility and cost-effectiveness of buildings.

Architectural engineering can be defined as the application of engineering concepts to the design and construction of buildings and structures. Architectural engineering, referred to as building engineering makes, architectural designs come to life. It gives us buildings which match specifications and are completely functional and aesthetic.

An architectural engineering degree amalgamates architectural know-how with engineering principles and applies these toward systems design of buildings. The 5 year Bachelor of Science course follows a multi-pronged approach, integrating various aspects of electrical, mechanical and civil engineering. The course merges the systems critical to a building with its overall design and architectural plan. It emphasizes on the fundamentals of engineering and building construction, architectural history and design, mathematics, physics, computer programming and surveying. Architectural Engineering comprises of the following specialties in the design of building systems – heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (referred to as HVAC), plumbing, fire protection, electrical, lighting, transportation and structural systems. A student of architectural engineering can specialize in the structural, electrical, mechanical or construction aspects of building design or opt to be a generalist.

An architectural engineer works closely with an architect giving shape to his designs and amalgamating both technology and science with art. The building design process is not only imaginative but also very intricate; not giving any room for error. Hence although the architectural engineer need not be artistic, he has to necessarily be an organized and visual person with a keen eye on detail. An architectural engineer, working alongside architects and construction engineers, is involved right from the project initialization phase of a new building.

Architectural Engineers may be employed with architectural firms or they may start off on their own as independent contractors for builders. Many architectural engineers opt to work in firms doing structural, HVAC and electrical design with a few joining firms doing lighting or acoustical design. Some focus on the hurricane, snow or earthquake withstanding capacity of buildings. Other architectural engineers work on the air quality, energy efficiency, or the impact new construction has on the environment. Then there are some who join companies owning a lot of buildings as facilities managers. They could work with a manufacturer designing building system components or in sales. Although architectural engineering is mostly an office job it may include travel to the site location.

There are limited seats for architectural engineering and hence few graduates.
Combined with the steady increase in the construction and design of more efficient and environmental-friendly structures, we have a steady demand for architectural engineers. They work around 40 hours a week but have to meet deadlines strictly. Annual average salary of an architectural engineer with a work experience of 15 years is estimated at USD 90,000.

The next time we look up and marvel at the sheer brilliance of the new neighborhood mall we know whom to thank!

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