This internet browser is outdated and does not support all features of this site. Please switch or upgrade to a different browser to display this site properly.

Your guide to choosing the right engineering major

Copy Link
Woman wearing hard hat and high vis

If you’re passionate about problem-solving, innovation and making a positive impact on society, you might be considering a career as an engineer. But with so many exciting majors to choose from, which one is right for you? 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the majors available within Curtin’s Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) course, helping you understand what sets them apart and potential career paths. Whether you’re drawn to chemical processes, fascinated by computer systems, or passionate about sustainable energy solutions, you’ll gain valuable insights to steer you towards the right fit. 

What does Curtin’s Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) offer? 

Our four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) course helps you develop the key skills required for a wide range of engineering areas. You’ll study our award-winning Engineering First Year program, delving into theory and simulated projects in real computing, electrical, and mechanics laboratories.  

At the end of your first year, you’ll choose a major from the following options: 

In your final year, you’ll undertake an honours-level, independent research project in your chosen major.   

Which engineering major is right for me? 

You’ll learn more about each major through our Engineering First Year program but it can be handy to have all the key information in one spot! Find out what you can expect to learn in each discipline and the exciting career paths on offer. 

What is chemical engineering? 

Chemical engineers combine chemistry, physics and mathematics to transform raw materials into useful products like medicines, plastics and fuels.  

With a chemical engineering degree, you could pursue a career as a chemical or process engineer, production and operations engineer or even risk and safety manager. Chemical engineers are in demand across a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, food and beverage, environmental management, and energy production. 

In our chemical engineering major, you’ll choose from our general chemical engineering stream, or specialise in oil and gas: 

Chemical Engineering 

In this general stream, you’ll explore chemical reactions, thermodynamics, mass transfer, and fluid dynamics. These concepts form the basis for understanding how chemical processes work and how to improve their efficiency and sustainability. With a broad skillset, you could find yourself working in diverse areas like hazard management, industrial hygiene or renewable energy.  

Oil and Gas 

If you see yourself working in the resources sector, this stream is a great choice.  In addition to learning the basics of chemical engineering, you’ll explore the behaviour of hydrocarbon reservoirs, offshore drilling and production, the refining of crude oil, and processing of natural gas. 

Did you know? 

Chemical engineers make food taste better! 👩‍🔬🍔 Next time you enjoy extra crunchy chips, or the perfect amount of fizz in your soft drink, you can thank a chemical engineer! 🥤🍟 

Ever since I was young, I’ve been curious about how things are made. My dad introduced me to his friend who was a metallurgist, which cemented my love for process/chemical engineering. Majoring in chemical engineering at Curtin has given me a practical understanding of the fundamental forces of nature, and how to use them to humanity’s advantage. The breadth of knowledge that we learn is incredible. We learn small pieces of wisdom from wide-ranging fields like economics, finance, management, construction, chemistry, physics, and even other engineering disciplines. When I graduate, I would love a role in operations, similar to the work I’m doing at the Kwinana Nickel Refinery, or to work in the pilot-plant space, building small-scale plants. As long as it’s a hands-on position, I would love it.” 

Ben Leavy 

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Chemical Engineering) 

What is civil and construction engineering? 

Civil and construction engineers shape the infrastructure that supports our modern society. With a degree majoring in civil and construction engineering, you could find yourself designing bridges, roads, buildings or water supply systems. You might find yourself working in consulting firms, government agencies, construction companies, or involved in infrastructure development projects.  

As a civil engineering student, you’ll develop your scientific, mathematical and practical skills to solve engineering problems. You’ll learn to apply these skills to structural analysis and design, geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, hydraulics and construction. Through a combination of theory and practical projects, you’ll learn how to design safe and efficient structures, manage construction projects, and address environmental challenges. 

Did you know? 

Construction engineers work on eco-friendly buildings that use less energy and reduce environmental impact. From solar panels to rainwater harvesting systems, they incorporate sustainable features to make our world greener 🌱 

As part of my degree, I worked on the remediation of a culvert at a Rio Tinto port in Karratha. The experience taught me how to communicate technical engineering expertise to non-technical stakeholders, which is a skill that can be applied to any professional engineering project. In the future, I’d like to work as a structural or geotechnical engineer and complete a PhD.” 

Ali Ahmad Salem 

Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Construction Engineering), Bachelor of Science (Mining) 

What is electrical and computer engineering? 

Electrical and computer engineers lie at the forefront of technological innovation, driving advancements in telecommunications, electronics, computing, and automation. Whether you’re passionate about renewable energy, robotics, or artificial intelligence, a degree in electrical and computer engineering from Curtin opens doors to exciting career opportunities in Australia and around the world. 

In this major, you’ll explore the concepts that underpin electrical and computer engineering in depth, before choosing one of the specialisations below: 

Power Systems 

Learn to address the challenges in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. In this stream, you’ll explore alternative energy sources like solar and wind, and look at smart grids, distribution systems and the integration of renewable energy. 

Electronics and Communications 

With increasing demand for intelligent transportation systems, mobile broadband access, remote operations, IoT and tactile internet (an internet you can ‘touch’), this stream will help you tackle issues facing telecommunication systems, to enable fast and reliable communication anywhere and anytime. 

Embedded Systems 

Explore the specialised computing systems that power the devices we rely on daily. In this stream, you’ll learn the theoretical and practical aspects of embedded systems, sensors and electronic design. 

Did you know? 

From smartwatches to fitness trackers, electrical and computing engineers miniaturise components and optimise algorithms to fit powerful features into compact devices that we wear every day! ⌚️ 

What is energy engineering? 

Energy engineering is a vital field that focuses on the sustainable generation, distribution, and use of energy resources. If you want to help address global energy challenges, including climate change, resource depletion and energy security, a career in energy engineering could be a great fit.  

This unique engineering major is the first of its kind to offer the in-depth knowledge required for a cleaner energy future. You’ll learn how to design and optimise energy systems, conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects, and develop strategies for reducing carbon emissions.  

You’ll choose four specialisation units to complete, in areas such as power systems engineering, low carbon transition, subsurface energy engineering and energy conversion technologies. 

Did you know? 

Iceland generates nearly 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, with three-quarters coming from hydropower and the rest from geothermal power.1 🌊🌋 

What is industrial and systems engineering? 

Industrial and systems engineers focus on optimising complex systems and processes to improve efficiency, productivity, and quality. With a degree in industrial and systems engineering, you could pursue a career as an operations manager, process engineer, supply chain analyst or even management consultant.  

As an industrial engineering student, you’ll learn how to apply engineering principles, mathematical models, and data analysis techniques to solve real-world problems in areas such as production planning, supply chain management, and quality control. You’ll gain hands-on experience with simulation software, optimisation tools, and statistical methods, and study units from engineering, sustainability, management and industrial mathematics. 

Did you know? 

🚀🏰 Industrial engineers work in diverse industries, from aerospace to entertainment! Whether you’re designing space missions for NASA, optimising theme park operations, or revolutionising manufacturing processes, the possibilities are endless. 

I’ve really enjoyed the connections I’ve made and opportunities I’ve gained while studying industrial and systems engineering at Curtin. As part of my course, I completed a 14-week internship with SLB, learning about the equipment and tools used in the oil and gas industry. I developed apps in Powerapps for the technicians in the tool maintenance workshop to use. I’ve since been lucky enough to be offered a job with SLB as a field engineer.” 

Luke Scott 

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Industrial and Systems Engineering) 

What is mechanical engineering? 

Discover how to design, build and improve machines and mechanical systems that make things work, from cars to robots to aeroplanes. As a mechanical engineer you could find yourself designing fuel-efficient engines, developing robotic arms to speed up manufacturing processes, or even creating prosthetic limbs. 

In this major, you’ll delve into thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, materials science, and mechanical design, preparing you for diverse career opportunities in automotive, aerospace, renewable energy, and manufacturing industries. You’ll learn how to improve mechanical systems for performance, reliability and sustainability, and gain hands-on experience with computer-aided design (CAD) software, tools, and techniques in our laboratories and workshops. 

Did you know? 

Mechanical engineers are vital to space exploration, designing spacecraft, robots and gadgets that can handle harsh and extreme conditions. 🚀 

What is mechatronic engineering? 

Self-driving cars, autonomous drones and 3D printers are just some of the intelligent systems and products designed by mechatronic engineers. Blending mechanical, electrical and computer engineering, choosing this major could prepare you for exciting career opportunities in robotics, automation, biomedical engineering and advanced manufacturing.  

As a mechatronic engineering student, you’ll learn how to design, build and control complex mechatronic systems using sensors, actuators, microcontrollers, and embedded software. You’ll gain hands-on experience with robotics platforms, automation systems, and 3D printing technologies in our state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities. 

Did you know? 

🤖 From robot pets to high-tech drones, mechatronic engineers are the brains behind the bots that entertain, assist, and even save lives! ⚙️ 

My mechanics internship at Woodside helped me learn about how a large-scale engineering firm operates and gave me my first look at the oil and gas industry. As part of my internship, I was given the opportunity to obtain my Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training to travel and live on a Floating Production Storage and Offloading ship (FPSO) for a week.  

I also participated in the first-year mining camp to Kalgoorlie, and an international study tour to Thailand to learn more about energy transition.” 

Georgia Farquhar-Smith

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechatronic Engineering), Bachelor of Computer Science

What is metallurgical engineering? 

Metallurgical engineering focuses on the extraction, processing, and refining of metals and materials. With a degree in metallurgical engineering, you could find yourself working in mining, metals production, materials science or engineering research, developing new alloys for aerospace applications, improving extraction processes for mineral resources, or optimising materials performance in extreme environments. 

In this major, you’ll learn about the physical and chemical properties of metals, the principles of extractive metallurgy, and the techniques for processing ores and industrial minerals. You’ll gain hands-on experience with laboratory experiments, pilot-scale tests, and computational modeling in our facilities and research centres. You’ll also gain management skills. 

And if you choose Curtin, your studies will take you to the historic town of Kalgoorlie to learn at our globally renowned WA School of Mines: Mineral, Energy and Chemical Engineering. 

Did you know? 

🔩 Steel is one of the world’s most recycled materials, 1000 times stronger than iron and more elastic than rubber! 🌟 

What is mining engineering? 

Mining engineering involves the extraction, processing, and management of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the Earth. If you’re interested in open-pit mining, underground operations, or sustainable mining practices, our mining engineering major will prepare you for a global career in the mining and resources industry. 

In this major, you’ll learn about the principles of rock mechanics, the techniques for ore extraction and processing, and the strategies for mine design and optimisation. You’ll explore emerging mining technology such as robotics, data analytics and additive manufacturing. You’ll delve into mining economics and discover how to make a positive contribution to sustainable development. You’ll also learn strategies for engaging with the community, particularly in relation to Indigenous communities in Australia and internationally. 

At the WA School of Mines, you’ll benefit from field trips, mine site visits, and industry placements, giving you valuable insights into real-world mining operations and challenges. 

Did you know? 

🏅 Curtin is ranked second in the world, 🌍 and first in Australia, for Mineral and Mining Engineering!1 ⛏️ 

1QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 

It was a foundation year camp with BHP to Kalgoorlie that made me fall in love with mining, its culture and people. I love the support and opportunity that students are given in mining, whether from teachers or industry professionals.  I really enjoyed living in Kalgoorlie for three years of my degree and would highly recommend the experience to other aspiring engineers. In the future, I’d like to secure a role in mining engineering and specialise in drill and blast.”  

Siti Khadijah Yusni 

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mining Engineering) 

What is software systems engineering? 

If you’re interested in developing mobile applications, improving software systems, or working on smart devices, a degree in software systems engineering prepares you for fast-paced careers in software development, cybersecurity and technology consulting. 

In this major, you’ll learn about the principles of software design, the techniques for software testing and quality assurance, and the strategies for project management and software maintenance. You’ll gain hands-on experience with programming languages, development tools, and software frameworks in our laboratories and computing facilities. 

Did you know? 

English mathematician and author Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, was the world’s first computer programmer. 💻🌟 In the early 1800s, she wrote the first computer program, a century before the first computers were built. 

Career ready 

Now you’ve explored the different majors on offer, have a think about which ones resonate with you, and what kind of career appeals.  

Rest assured that whichever major you choose, you’ll be immersed in hands-on learning to prepare you for your chosen career. All our majors are designed in collaboration with industry, offering you unique and practical opportunities to hone your skills.  

You’ll learn from valued experts in the field and have access to internships, industry projects and professional development programs with leading engineering companies and organisations.  

Ask us a question 

If you want to know more about our majors, or want to discuss your options further, we’re here to help! You can call us during business hours on 1300 222 888 or ask us your question online and we’ll get back to you soon.    

Copy Link