Engineering societies are an essential part of the engineering discipline and professional sector. In addition to the numerous benefits that these professional associations provide to members, many of the leading engineering societies also play a direct role in granting accreditation to degree programs and awarding licenses to professional engineers. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the engineering societies, professional associations, and student-run groups that represent the engineering field. This can be especially appealing if you’re working toward an online engineering degree. In the absence of a campus community, membership in an engineering society can help make you part of a dynamic and global professional community.
What Do Engineering Societies Do?
Engineering societies can cover a wide range of functions within both the sphere of education and in the professional sector. First and foremost, a professional society is exactly what it sounds like—a group of people with shared and overlapping interests who work together to advance the collective goals of the engineering field. Efforts to this end can include:
- Publication of scholarly journals
- Sponsorship of conferences
- Announcements about major innovations in the field
Some engineering societies provide direct educational and professional support for those seeking to begin or advance careers in the field. This can include provision of:
- Access to study resources
- Support on the path to licensure
- Review and editorial services
Engineering societies also perform an array of absolutely critical oversight duties within the broader field including:
- Accreditation of educational institutions
- Regulation of professional practices
- Codification of professional ethics
- Safety standards for practice
- Regulation relating to the assembly, usage, maintenance and repair of an extremely wide range of technologies
These are only a few of the functions served by the array of professional engineering societies. As you become more familiar with, or even join, various professional associations, you’ll get a first-hand look at just how extensively engineering societies impact the profession and just how valuable your involvement in such societies can be.
What Are the Benefits of Membership in an Engineering Society?
Generally speaking, professional associations are a tremendous way to become a part of a network of other students and professionals in your field. Because apprenticeship and licensing are a central part of building toward a career in engineering, engineering societies are particularly important. In fact, you don’t need to be a licensed professional engineer (PE) to become a member of some of these associations. You can begin to reap the benefits while still working toward an engineering degree.
These benefits can include access to scholarly journals, invitations to seminars and networking events, and myriad opportunities to make contact and build relationships with fellow students as well as educators, professionals and leaders in the field. Engineering students and aspiring professional engineers can also gain access to important career development resources including exam preparation, licensure support, and access to apprenticeship opportunities.
This last benefit underscores the primary reason it’s so important to familiarize yourself with the professional society landscape, and to join the organizations that are the best fit for your educational needs and professional goals. There is no way to put a dollar value on the access that you’ll gain to others with shared interests, as well as with real working experience and meaningful professional connections.
What Are The Leading Professional Engineering Societies?
If your goal is to become an engineering professional, get to know the leading professional societies, as each plays its own key role in your industry
Engineering Education Societies
Earning a bachelor’s degree is an essential step on the path to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). For this reason, engineering education is overseen by a number of professional societies which help to shape standards, inform curriculum, and ensure quality. The following are some of the leading engineering societies which take part in molding education and degree programs for aspiring engineering professionals:
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET)
- As the name suggests, ABET is the leading accreditation agency in the field of engineering education. This means ABET is the primary organization responsible for ensuring that engineering degree programs are meeting established standards of quality, credibility, and currency. Most critically, in order to become a licensed PE, it is necessary to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree from a program which has ABET accreditation. ABET also provides direct consultation to educational institutions in order to support improvement and innovation.
- American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
- This organization is primarily focused on promoting research and instruction in engineering. The non-profit is dedicated to continuous improvement in both the quality and accessibility of engineering education, serving as a
clearinghouse of information about engineering education and an important tool in shaping the future of the field.
- Order of the Engineer
- Not technically a membership organization, this group pledges to
foster a spirit of pride and responsibility in the engineering professionand
bridge the gap between training and experience.Primarily geared toward graduate engineering students, the Order is particularly focused on promoting safe, ethical and consistent practice throughout the profession.
General Engineering Societies
Some engineering societies are designed to serve as far-reaching professional networks serving the field as a whole. These national organizations foster collegial support, recognize major contributors to the field, highlight innovations in various areas of specialization and generally help to bring together the many interwoven strands of this diverse industry:
- National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
- The NSPE is a group formed by engineering professionals with the stated goal of supporting the non-technical needs of licensed PEs. These needs include codification of ethics and accountability in the field, identification of qualifications for professional practice, support to professionals working toward licensure or continuous professional growth, and the facilitation of collaboration, diversity and inclusion across the field.
- Society of Women Engineers
- Identifying itself as
the world’s largest advocate for women in engineering and technology,the Society of Women engineers serves as a premier resource for females in the field. Its advocacy work includes the development of education resources targeting women engineers and technologists, as well as direct support to those advancing their education and careers.
Engineering Societies for Specialized Fields
Because engineering is such a diverse field composed of an enormous array of specializations, most of these specific concentrations are also represented by highly-regarded professional associations. Joining a professional association with a focus on your area of specialization can be a particularly good way to make connections within what are sometimes very close-knit professional communities. These inroads can pay dividends with apprenticeships, career opportunities and friendships once you’ve earned a degree.
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- The ASCE is the oldest engineering organization in the U.S. Representing more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide, the ASCE refers to itself as
a leading provider of technical and professional conferences and continuing education, the world’s largest publisher of civil engineering content, and an authoritative source for codes and standards that protect the public.
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- This group performs an extremely important and direct role in defining safety regulations and technical standards in mechanical engineering. This means that the ASME plays an active part in protecting the public through its oversight. According to the ASME, its organization
enables collaboration, knowledge sharing, career enrichment, and skills development across all engineering disciplines, toward a goal of helping the global engineering community develop solutions to benefit lives and livelihoods.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- The largest international organization focused on
advancing technology for the benefit of humanity,the IEEE supports innovation in the field through highly regarded scholarly publications, well-attended conferences, and the establishment of pervasive technical standards in numerous areas of computing, engineering and other technology.
List of More Engineering Societies
A more complete list of engineering societies includes an even wider range of student- and university-run organizations as well as a host of U.S. associations that focus on areas of specialization within the engineering and architecture fields. The more extensive list below is taken from Wikipedia’s catalogue of American engineering societies:
- Alpha Omega Epsilon
- Alpha Pi Mu
- American Academy of Environmental Engineers
- American Association of Engineering Societies
- American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers
- American Indian Science and Engineering Society
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers
- American Nuclear Society
- American Railway Engineering Association
- American Society for Engineering Education
- American Society for Engineering Management
- American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
- American Society of Naval Engineers
- American Society of Plumbing Engineers
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- American Society for Nondestructive Testing
- American Welding Society
- Architectural Engineering Institute
- ASM International
- Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Audio Engineering Society
- Biomedical Engineering Society
- Chi Epsilon
- Engineering Society of Buffalo
- Eta Kappa Nu
- Institute of Biological Engineering
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
- Institute of Transportation Engineers
- National Academy of Engineering
- National Society of Black Engineers
- National Society of Professional Engineers
- Order of the Engineer
- Pi Tau Sigma
- Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering
- Society of American Military Engineers
- Society of Automotive Engineers
- Society of Broadcast Engineers
- Society of Fire Protection Engineers
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
- Society of Manufacturing Engineers
- Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Plastics Engineers
- Society of Women Engineers
- Tau Beta Pi
- Theta Tau
- Tire Society
- Vertical Flight Society