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Science or Engineering? What’s the difference anyway?

Hi everyone!

For those who don’t know me, I am Morenike, one of the founders here at Afro-Tech Girls. Recently I was having a meeting with Adeola and Yvonne, the other founders and we each shared our story on how we ended up studying engineering. You can read more about each of us here

For me, I had always loved the sciences, especially chemistry, I was very good at it and it came naturally to me. One of my favourite memories from school is making a red dye from hibiscus flowers with my friend for a science fair. At the end of school when I decided to study chemical engineering at university, I thought my love for chemistry could continue and I would love every moment. But it was quite different from what I expected but why, what is the difference between science and engineering?

Science is about creation, engineering is about making that creation accessible

Often scientists will come up with a creative solution to a problem the world is facing but on a smaller scale, for example finding the cure to a deadly virus in a lab through research and experiments. However, they would probably need the help of engineers to produce it on a mass scale for everyone to access it!

Engineering can often be a blend of two or more sciences

For example, in chemical engineering I expected to study a lot of chemistry, especially organic chemistry… Imagine my shock when chemistry was only a small part of the course and physics or ‘physical chemistry’ was taught much more! Another example is in medicine and biomedical engineering. Medicine involves the study of how the body works while biomedical engineering takes that knowledge of the body and adds in physics and engineering principles to it too

Engineering looks for practical solutions while science looks for perfect solutions

Scientists' work relies on them being precise in everything, you cannot prove something is true or false if your methodology is flawed or has mistakes, it is important to be sure. However, engineers get comfortable with safe margins of errors and often think that as long as something is practical, it doesn’t need to be perfect

Ultimately, science and engineering work together and provide solutions to some of the most complex and interesting problems and both are equally important. Do I regret studying chemical engineering instead of chemistry? Never! I learnt so much at university and there is no knowledge lost.

Did you know these differences between science and engineering? What are some of the other differences you can think of? Drop a comment below, let’s chat!

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