Students at construction site

What is architectural engineering?

Architectural engineering (AE) is the application of practice and theory to the engineering design of building systems. The field is interdisciplinary, uniting scientific principles from structural, mechanical, electrical, lighting, acoustical, and construction engineering in order to conceptualize, design, construct, operate, and maintain buildings and building systems.

Architectural engineers apply their discipline-specific expertise in interdisciplinary team environments to conceptualize, design, construct, operate, and maintain built infrastructure. This interdisciplinary approach is necessary to respond to the most urgent societal and environmental challenges emerging from urbanization across the globe.

Architectural engineers add value to society by engineering buildings and communities that are sustainable, resilient, economically viable, and high performance, while ensuring the safety, health, comfort, and productivity of building occupants. Their work complements the architectural design.

You might like architectural engineering if …

  • You have aptitude in math and science.
  • You appreciate the artistic and emotive aspects of buildings and architecture.
  • You are fascinated by the design and construction of buildings and building systems.
  • You are passionate about sustainability and energy conservation.
  • You are concerned about climate change.
  • You are concerned about building environment-related illnesses like asthma or allergies.
  • You like to organize parts of a system or process.
  • You enjoy solving problems and helping others.

“I loved the practical experience we got while studying in the AE program. The focus we had on buildings versus civil programs was broader, broad in the sense that we looked at all systems of buildings, not just the structure. We looked at how it’s built, including the mechanical components, which really helped us as designers to be able to relate to the whole design package that is involved.”
Mark Taylor, Nitterhouse Concrete Products
BAE 1992, Structural Option

“The unique thing about this program is the emphasis on building systems. You collaborate with a lot of other disciplines, so you learn why a lot of what you do structurally depends on mechanical applications. You get the foundation of understanding of the full scope of a building from the architectural standpoint, so when you graduate you come into a company with eyes wide open because you have a fuller understanding of what goes together.”
Jamison Morse, PVE Engineering
BAE/MAE 2009, Structural Option

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Widely acknowledged as one of the top Architectural Engineering programs in the world, the Penn State AE Department is dedicated to providing outstanding academic excellence to all of our students. The AE program is focused on preparing students and conducting research in the design, engineering, and construction of building projects.

Department of Architectural Engineering

104 Engineering Unit A

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-6394