Engineering Definitions You Should Know

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There are some words and concepts that are crucial to practicing as an engineer. Instead of Googling the definition of these words quickly on the phone, why not take some time and study this list? You might know many of these definitions – or very few – but SSTC is here to help with the one’s you don’t.

Efficiency – The ability for a given design or solution to avoid wasting materials, energy, time, and money in the execution of a planned result. Keeping this in mind is important for engineers as they weigh input effort to output result.

Tolerance – The allowable limits of variation of a physical part’s dimension or a measured value within manufacturing processes. It can also be used to describe the precision capabilities of machines.

Quality – A direct measure of how well a component or design meets the needs of the project scope and desired outcome or the measure of how well something performs to the industry norm.

Cost – The measure of how much money or time a design or solution requires to complete. The term can sometimes be applied in reference to tradeoffs in the design process.

Variance –  A difference between the standard measurements and the actual measurements, typically in the form of maximum and minimum. Variance can also refer to the quality of parts as well as the tolerance of parts.

Consultant – An engineering consultant is typically one that offers independent expertise in a given area.

Specifications – Records that document the exact design of a part, building, or assembly along with the necessary details of manufacturing and loading.

BOQ – A bill of quantities (BOQ) is a formal document that is used to tender the necessary supplies and components for a project.

Drawing – Usually a reference to a computer aided design drawing that is used to design and set specifications for a component or assembly. Engineering drawing in CAD has an output of formal engineering drawings.

Material – The desired makeup of a part or design, usually specified in the bill of material (BOM), BOQ, or directly in an engineering drawing or specification document. Materials are selected based on their physical performance, aesthetics, and overall capability to suit the needs of a particular design.

Approval – Usually written consent from a client or job leader allowing the design process to move forward in a manner that works toward the end goal. Approval in the engineering world can be synonymous with certification, licensing, or authorization.

Profile photo of Trevor English
Trevor is a civil engineer by trade and an accomplished internet blogger with a passion for inspiring everyone with new and exciting technologies. He is also a published children’s book author whose most recent book, ZOOM Go the Vehicles, is aimed at inspiring young kids to have an interest in engineering.


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