Engineering - High School

Learn these terms and build a solid engineering vocabulary. This comprehensive list covers simple machines, electricity, force and momentum, building materials and structural elements, and much more. This list is sure to cement your understanding of engineering.
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  1. abutment
    a masonry support that touches and directly receives thrust or pressure of an arch or bridge
  2. accuracy
    the quality of being near to the true value
  3. aerodynamics
    the branch of mechanics that deals with the motion of gases
  4. aerospace
    the atmosphere and outer space considered as a whole
  5. algorithm
    a precise rule specifying how to solve some problem
  6. alloy
    a mixture containing two or more metallic elements
  7. alternative energy
    energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment
  8. aluminum
    a silvery ductile metallic element
  9. ampere
    the basic unit of electric current adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites
  10. analog
    having an output that is proportional to the input
  11. anchorage
    the condition of being secured to a base
  12. angle
    the space between two lines or planes that intersect
  13. application
    a program that gives a computer instructions
  14. aqueduct
    a conduit that carries water over a valley
  15. arch
    a curved masonry construction for spanning an opening
  16. architect
    someone who creates plans to be used in making something
  17. assembly
    the act of constructing something, as a piece of machinery
  18. atmospheric pressure
    the pressure exerted by the atmosphere
  19. automation
    the act of implementing the control of equipment
  20. automaton
    a mechanism that can move independently of external control
  21. Bayes' theorem
    (statistics) a theorem describing how the conditional probability of a set of possible causes for a given observed event can be computed from knowledge of the probability of each cause and the conditional probability of the outcome of each cause
  22. beam
    a long thick piece of material used in construction
  23. bedrock
    solid unweathered stone beneath surface deposits of soil
  24. belt
    loop of flexible material between rotating shafts or pulleys
  25. bend
    cause (a plastic object) to assume a crooked or angular form
  26. bends
    pain resulting from rapid change in pressure
  27. biomass
    plant materials and animal waste used as fuel
  28. brace
    a structural member used to stiffen a framework
  29. brainstorm
    try to solve a problem by thinking intensely about it
  30. bridge
    structure allowing passage across a river or other obstacle
  31. brittle
    having little elasticity
  32. buckle
    bend out of shape, as under pressure or from heat
  33. buttress
    a support usually of stone or brick
  34. cable
    a very strong thick rope made of twisted hemp or steel wire
  35. caisson
    large watertight chamber used for construction under water
  36. caisson disease
    pain resulting from rapid change in pressure
  37. cantilever
    a projecting horizontal beam fixed at one end only
  38. cast iron
    an alloy of iron containing so much carbon that it is brittle and so cannot be wrought but must be shaped by casting
  39. catenary
    the curve theoretically assumed by a perfectly flexible and inextensible cord of uniform density and cross section hanging freely from two fixed points
  40. cement
    a building material that is a powder made of a mixture of calcined limestone and clay; used with water and sand or gravel to make concrete and mortar
  41. centroid
    the center of mass of an object of uniform density
  42. chemical engineering
    the branch of engineering that is concerned with the design and construction and operation of the plants and machinery used in industrial chemical processes
  43. circuit
    an electrical device providing a path for current to flow
  44. cistern
    an artificial reservoir for storing liquids
  45. civil engineer
    an engineer trained to design and construct and maintain public works (roads or bridges or harbors etc.)
  46. civil engineering
    the branch of engineering concerned with the design and construction of such public works as dams or bridges
  47. cofferdam
    large watertight chamber used for construction under water
  48. collaborate
    work together on a common enterprise or project
  49. column
    a tall vertical cylindrical structure standing upright
  50. combustion
    a reaction of a substance with oxygen to give heat and light
  51. component
    one of the individual parts making up a larger entity
  52. composite
    consisting of separate interconnected parts
  53. compression
    the process of becoming smaller or pressed together
  54. compressor
    a mechanical device that compresses gasses
  55. computer science
    the branch of engineering science that studies (with the aid of computers) computable processes and structures
  56. concrete
    a strong hard building material made with gravel and cement
  57. conduction
    the transmission of heat or electricity or sound
  58. conductor
    a substance that readily serves as a medium for transmission
  59. configuration
    an arrangement of parts or elements
  60. consensus
    agreement in the judgment reached by a group as a whole
  61. constraint
    a limitation or restriction
  62. construction
    the act of building something
  63. contractor
    someone who is hired to build things
  64. control
    a mechanism that directs the operation of a machine
  65. convection
    transfer of heat caused by molecular motion in liquid or gas
  66. crank
    a hand tool consisting of a rotating shaft with parallel handle
  67. criterion
    the ideal in terms of which something can be judged
  68. current
    a flow of electricity through a conductor
  69. cylinder
    a chamber within which a piston moves
  70. dam
    a barrier constructed to contain the flow of water
  71. data
    a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn
  72. decompose
    separate into constituent elements or parts
  73. define
    decide upon or fix with certainty
  74. deform
    alter the shape of (something) by stress
  75. deformation
    alteration in the shape or dimensions of an object as a result of the application of stress to it
  76. delimit
    determine the essential quality of
  77. design
    the act of working out the form of something
  78. designer
    someone who creates plans to be used in making something
  79. digital
    using or characteristic of computerized technology
  80. dimension
    the magnitude of something in a particular direction
  81. dome
    a hemispherical roof
  82. dynamics
    mechanics concerned with forces that cause motions of bodies
  83. dynamite
    an explosive that contains nitroglycerin
  84. efficiency
    the ratio of the output to the input of any system
  85. efficient
    being effective without wasting time, effort, or expense
  86. elasticity
    the tendency of a body to return to its original shape
  87. electrical energy
    energy made available by the flow of electric charge through a conductor
  88. electrical engineering
    the branch of engineering science that studies the uses of electricity and the equipment for power generation and distribution and the control of machines and communication
  89. electricity
    a physical phenomenon that can produce light, heat and power
  90. electrolysis
    (chemistry) a chemical decomposition reaction produced by passing an electric current through a solution containing ions
  91. electromagnet
    a temporary magnet made by coiling wire around an iron core
  92. electronic
    relating to or operating by a controlled current
  93. elongation
    the act of lengthening something
  94. energy
    any source of usable power
  95. engine
    motor that converts energy into work or motion
  96. engineering
    applying scientific knowledge to practical problems
  97. entropy
    energy in a system no longer available for mechanical work
  98. experiment
    the act of conducting a controlled test or investigation
  99. factor of safety
    the ratio of the breaking stress of a structure to the estimated maximum stress in ordinary use
  100. fatigue
    a weakened state caused by long stress on a material
  101. feedback
    the process in which output of a system is returned to input
  102. filter
    device that removes something from what passes through it
  103. finishing
    a decorative texture or appearance of a surface
  104. first law of thermodynamics
    the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes
  105. flange
    a projection used for strength or for attaching to another object
  106. flowchart
    a diagram showing a sequence of operations or a progression
  107. flow rate
    the amount of fluid that flows in a given time
  108. force
    influence that results in motion, stress, etc. when applied
  109. fossil fuel
    energy-producing substance derived from preserved organisms
  110. friction
    the resistance when a body is moved in contact with another
  111. fuel
    a substance that can be consumed to produce energy
  112. fuel cell
    cell that produces electricity by oxidation of fuel
  113. fulcrum
    the pivot about which a lever turns
  114. gear
    a toothed wheel that engages another toothed mechanism
  115. generator
    engine that converts mechanical energy into electricity
  116. geodesic dome
    a lightweight dome constructed of interlocking polygons
  117. geothermal energy
    energy derived from the heat in the interior of the earth
  118. girder
    a beam used as a main support in a structure
  119. grinder
    machinery that processes materials by grinding or crushing
  120. gunpowder
    a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur in a 75:15:10 ratio which is used in gunnery, time fuses, and fireworks
  121. gusset
    a metal plate used to strengthen a joist
  122. heat
    a form of energy transferred by a difference in temperature
  123. hydraulics
    the study of the mechanics of fluids
  124. impact
    a forceful consequence; a strong effect
  125. implement
    a piece of equipment or a tool used for a specific purpose
  126. inclined plane
    a simple machine for elevating objects
  127. induction
    an electrical phenomenon generating an electromotive force
  128. inelastic
    not able to resume shape after stretching or compression
  129. inertia
    the tendency of something to stay in rest or motion
  130. infrastructure
    basic facilities needed for the functioning of a country
  131. input
    signal going into an electronic system
  132. inspection
    a formal or official examination
  133. insulator
    a material with little electrical or thermal conductivity
  134. integrated circuit
    a microelectronic computer circuit incorporated into a chip or semiconductor; a whole system rather than a single component
  135. interface
    circuit consisting of hardware linking a device with another
  136. internal combustion
    the combustion of fuel inside a cylinder
  137. interpretation
    an explanation that results from making sense of something
  138. invention
    a creation resulting from study and experimentation
  139. iron
    a heavy ductile magnetic metallic element
  140. iterative
    marked by repetition
  141. joint
    junction by which parts or objects are linked together
  142. joule
    a unit of electrical energy
  143. Kelvin scale
    a temperature scale that defines absolute zero as 0 degrees
  144. kinetic energy
    the mechanical energy that a body has by virtue of motion
  145. lamina
    a thin plate or layer (especially of bone or mineral)
  146. lathe
    a machine tool for shaping a piece of rotating wood or metal
  147. lever
    a simple machine giving a mechanical advantage on a fulcrum
  148. load
    weight to be borne or conveyed
  149. load-bearing
    capable of bearing a structural load
  150. logic gate
    a computer circuit with several inputs but only one output that can be activated by particular combinations of inputs
  151. lubricator
    a substance capable of reducing friction by making surfaces smooth or slippery
  152. machine
    a device for overcoming resistance by applying force
  153. machinery
    mechanical or electrical devices collectively
  154. magnitude
    the property of relative size or extent
  155. manufacture
    put together out of artificial or natural components
  156. manufacturing
    the act of making something (a product) from raw materials
  157. masonry
    structure built of stone or brick
  158. material
    the substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object
  159. mechanical advantage
    the ratio of the force exerted by a machine to the force applied to it
  160. mechanical engineering
    the branch of engineering that deals with the design and construction and operation of machinery
  161. mechanics
    the branch of physics concerned with the motion of bodies
  162. mechanism
    device consisting of a piece of machinery
  163. microchip
    a tiny piece of material used to make an integrated circuit
  164. microelectronics
    the branch of electronics that deals with miniature components
  165. microprocessor
    integrated circuit semiconductor chip that performs the bulk of the processing and controls the parts of a system
  166. milling machine
    machine tool in which metal that is secured to a carriage is fed against rotating cutters that shape it
  167. mitigation
    the action of lessening in severity or intensity
  168. model
    a hypothetical description of a complex entity or process
  169. modeling
    the act of representing something
  170. modulus of elasticity
    (physics) the ratio of the applied stress to the change in shape of an elastic body
  171. moment
    a turning force produced by an object acting at a distance
  172. moment of inertia
    the tendency of a body to resist angular acceleration
  173. momentum
    the product of a body's mass and its velocity
  174. motion
    a change of position not entailing a change of location
  175. nanotechnology
    engineering that involves manipulating atoms and molecules
  176. nitroglycerin
    a heavy yellow poisonous oily explosive liquid obtained by nitrating glycerol; used in making explosives and medically as a vasodilator (trade names Nitrospan and Nitrostat)
  177. ohm
    a unit of electrical resistance
  178. Ohm's law
    electric current is directly proportional to voltage and inversely proportional to resistance; I = E/R
  179. open-ended
    without fixed limits or restrictions
  180. optimize
    make optimal; get the most out of; use best
  181. output
    signal that comes out of an electronic system
  182. parallel circuit
    a closed circuit in which the current divides into two or more paths before recombining to complete the circuit
  183. patent
    a document granting an inventor sole rights to an invention
  184. perimeter
    the size of something as given by the distance around it
  185. photocell
    a transducer used to detect and measure light and other radiations
  186. photovoltaic
    producing a voltage when exposed to radiant energy
  187. pier
    a support for two adjacent bridge spans
  188. pile
    a column that is driven into the ground to provide support
  189. pile driver
    a machine that drives piling into the ground
  190. piston
    mechanical device that has a plunging or thrusting motion
  191. plastic
    synthetic material that can be molded into objects
  192. plate
    structural member consisting of a horizontal beam that provides bearing and anchorage
  193. plywood
    a laminate made of thin layers of wood
  194. pneumatics
    the branch of mechanics that deals with the mechanical properties of gases
  195. polarity
    the state of having an indicated electrical charge
  196. pollution
    contamination of the natural environment
  197. potable
    suitable for drinking
  198. potential energy
    energy stored by a body or system by virtue of its position
  199. potentiometer
    a measuring instrument for measuring direct current electromotive forces
  200. power
    (physics) the rate of doing work
  201. precision
    the quality of being exact
  202. pressure
    the act of putting pressure on something
  203. probability
    a measure of how likely it is that some event will occur
  204. problem
    a question raised for consideration or solution
  205. projectile
    impelling or impelled forward
  206. proposal
    something suggested, as a plan or assumption
  207. propulsion
    the act of moving forward
  208. pulley
    a wheel with a groove in which a rope can run
  209. pump
    a device that moves fluid or gas by pressure or suction
  210. purpose
    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
  211. qualitative
    involving distinguishing attributes
  212. quality control
    maintenance of standards of quality of manufactured goods
  213. quantitative
    expressible as an amount that can be measured
  214. radiation
    energy transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles
  215. raw material
    material suitable for manufacture or use or finishing
  216. recycling
    the act of processing used or abandoned materials for use in creating new products
  217. reinforced concrete
    concrete with metal and/or mesh added to provide extra support against stresses
  218. reliability
    the quality of being dependable
  219. renewable resource
    any natural resource (as wood or solar energy) that can be replenished naturally with the passage of time
  220. reproducible
    capable of being reproduced
  221. reservoir
    tank used for collecting and storing a liquid
  222. resilience
    ability of a material to return to its original shape
  223. resistance
    any mechanical force that tends to slow or oppose motion
  224. resistor
    an electrical device that resists the flow of electrical current
  225. Richter scale
    a logarithmic scale of 1 to 10 formerly used to express the magnitude of an earthquake on the basis of the size of seismograph oscillations
  226. rigid
    incapable of or resistant to bending
  227. robot
    a mechanism that can move automatically
  228. screw
    a simple machine with a threaded cylindrical rod and hole
  229. second law of thermodynamics
    a law stating that mechanical work can be derived from a body only when that body interacts with another at a lower temperature; any spontaneous process results in an increase of entropy
  230. semiconductor
    a substance as germanium or silicon whose electrical conductivity is intermediate between that of a metal and an insulator; its conductivity increases with temperature and in the presence of impurities
  231. sensor
    a device that responds to a signal or stimulus
  232. series circuit
    a circuit having its parts connected serially
  233. shear
    a deformation of an object in which parallel planes shift
  234. shell
    a metal sheathing of uniform thickness
  235. silt
    mud or clay or small rocks deposited by a river or lake
  236. simple machine
    a device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point
  237. simulation
    representing the real world by a computer program
  238. sketch
    preliminary drawing for later elaboration
  239. slab
    block consisting of a thick piece of something
  240. software
    written programs operating on a computer system
  241. solar cell
    a cell that converts solar energy into electrical energy
  242. solar energy
    energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy
  243. solenoid
    a coil of wire around an iron core
  244. solution
    a method for solving a problem
  245. span
    a bridge
  246. speed
    a rate at which something happens
  247. spire
    a tall tower that forms the superstructure of a building
  248. sprocket
    tooth on the rim of gear wheel
  249. stable
    resistant to change of position or condition
  250. stainless steel
    steel containing chromium that makes it resistant to corrosion
  251. standard deviation
    the square root of the variance
  252. statics
    the branch of mechanics concerned with forces in equilibrium
  253. steel
    an alloy of iron with small amounts of carbon
  254. stiff
    incapable of or resistant to bending
  255. story
    a part of a building with rooms on the same level
  256. strain
    deformation of a body under the action of applied forces
  257. stress
    (physics) force that produces strain on a physical body
  258. strong
    having strength or power greater than average or expected
  259. structure
    a complex entity made of many parts
  260. strut
    brace consisting of a bar or rod used to resist compression
  261. subroutine
    a set sequence of steps, part of larger computer program
  262. suspension bridge
    a bridge that has a roadway supported by cables that are anchored at both ends
  263. sustainability
    the capacity of being prolonged
  264. sustainable
    capable of being prolonged
  265. switch
    device for making or breaking the connections in a circuit
  266. synthetic
    not of natural origin; prepared or made artificially
  267. system
    a group of independent elements comprising a unified whole
  268. technology
    the practical application of science to commerce or industry
  269. tensile strength
    the strength of material expressed as the greatest longitudinal stress it can bear without tearing apart
  270. tension
    a stress that produces an elongation of a physical body
  271. thermodynamics
    physics concerned with heat and other forms of energy
  272. tie
    horizontal beam to prevent structural members from spreading
  273. timber
    the wood of trees prepared for use as building material
  274. torque
    a twisting force
  275. torsion
    a twisting force
  276. toughness
    the elasticity and hardness of a metal object
  277. tower
    a structure taller than its diameter
  278. tradeoff
    an exchange that occurs as a compromise
  279. transistor
    a semiconductor device capable of amplification
  280. transmission line
    a conductor for transmitting electrical or optical signals or electric power
  281. trial
    the act of testing something
  282. truss
    a rigid framework of beams that supports a structure
  283. unstable
    lacking fixity or firmness
  284. valve
    a mechanical device for controlling the flow of a fluid
  285. variable
    a quantity that can assume any of a set of values
  286. variance
    the second moment around the mean
  287. velocity
    distance traveled per unit time in one direction
  288. viable
    capable of being done with means at hand
  289. viscosity
    resistance of a liquid to flowing
  290. volt
    a unit for measuring the force of an electric current
  291. voltage
    the rate at which energy is drawn from a source
  292. voltmeter
    meter that measures the potential difference between two points
  293. volume
    the amount of 3-dimensional space occupied by an object
  294. watt
    a unit of power equal to 1 joule per second
  295. wedge
    something solid that can be pushed between two things
  296. work
    a manifestation of energy
  297. wrought iron
    iron having a low carbon content that is tough and malleable and so can be forged and welded
  298. zeroth law of thermodynamics
    the law that if two bodies are in thermal equilibrium with a third body then the first two bodies are in thermal equilibrium with each other
Created on March 2, 2017 (updated April 20, 2017)

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