What Do Architectural Engineers Do? Could you get excited about designing new and dynamic spaces for people to live, work, and play?

Do you dream about planning and constructing houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures?

Would you enjoy contributing to an environmentally sustainable world by coming up with cutting-edge “green” designs?

The field of architectural engineering offers unique opportunities to make a real difference by applying engineering principles and technology to building design, construction, and more!

Architectural engineers

  • Apply engineering principles to the construction, planning, and design of buildings and other structures.
  • Work with other engineers and architects who focus on functional layout or aesthetics of building projects.
  • Are responsible for the different systems within a building, structure, or complex.
  • Plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.


  • Ensuring the structural and mechanical integrity of building in anticipation of earthquakes, vibrations, and wind loads.
  • Designing and analyzing heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems.
  • Evaluating efficiency and design of plumbing, fire protection, and electrical systems.
  • Planning acoustic and lighting properties for buildings.
  • Optimizing energy conservation and efficiency.

Famous Architectural Engineers 

  • Julia Morgan – designed 700 buildings throughout her career, including dozens of YWCA buildings and Hearst Castle
  • Ellen Biddle Shipman – called the Dean of American Landscape Architecture; best known for her formal gardens like the Henry W. Longfellow Place in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Alexandre Gustave Eiffel – the great mind behind the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the church of Notre Dame Des Champs
  • Richard Buckminster Fuller – invented the geodesic dome, a light and sturdy 3D structure made of self-bracing triangles
  • Robert Mills – responsible for the way Washington, D.C. looks today, including: the Washington Monument, the Treasury, the Patent Office, and the General Post Office
  • Peter Rice – global projects including: the Lloyds of London Building, le Centre Pompidou, and the Sydney Opera House

Areas of Employment

  • Architectural services
  • Engineering services
  • Scientific research and development services
  • Industrial production/manufacturing plants
  • Construction sites
  • Self-employed consulting
  • Government institutions including:
    • Military service

Career Guidance Suggestions for Pre-University Students 

Coursework to consider
  • Pre-algebra
  • Geometry
  • Advanced algebra
  • Engineering fundamentals
  • Chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Statistics
  • Physics
  • Robotics
  • Programming
  • Structural design
  • Patterns of architecture
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Soil mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Electrical circuits
  • Heat transfer
  • Construction management
  • Technical writing
  • Law and government
Suggested extracurricular activities
  • Competitions
  • Summer programs
  • Afterschool programs
  • Clubs
  • Internships
  • Online puzzles and games
  • Online courses
  • Maker Faires
  • Design projects
Local programs offered by
  • Science centers and museums 
  • Professional societies like IEEE
  • Universities
Important Skills
  • Analytical skills: understand the content of designs and the context in which they are created, such as the location of mechanical systems and how those systems affect building operations.
  • Communication skills: share ideas, both in oral presentation and in writing, with clients, architects and engineers, and workers who help prepare drawings.
  • Design skills: design the overall look of houses, buildings, and other structures, ensuring the final product is attractive and functional.
  • Organizational skills: keep records related to the details of the project, including total costs, materials used, and progress.
  • Technical skills: use computer-aided design and drafting technology to create plans as part of building information modeling.
  • Visualization skills: see how the parts of a structure relate to each other and visualize how the overall building will look once completed. 

Links and Resources

  • American Institute of Architects: sets design and construction industry standards, provides web based resources, and provides continuing education experiences.
  • Architectural Engineering Institute: the premier organization for architectural engineering, providing members timely technical information, professional advocacy, continuing education, and opportunities to excel in their careers.