Architectural engineers focus on the engineering aspects of buildings; they design the structural systems, the mechanical systems, and the lighting and electrical systems of buildings, while tackling the challenges related to managing the construction process. This makes architectural engineering an ideal profession for individuals with strong math and science skills who are interested in the built environment in general and buildings in particular. While architectural engineers work with architects, they are engineers and not architects.
Architectural engineers design and build facilities that improve our standard of living and quality of life. They are creative problem solvers meeting the challenges of energy needs, building systems, urban development, and community planning. As an architectural engineer, you can design functional and aesthetic lighting solutions create buildings prepared to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters, or invent affordable green technology to heat, cool, and power homes, offices, and large facilities with energy from the sun.
Curious about the classes you'll take as an architectural engineering major? Have a look at the sample undergraduate curriculum.
CU architectural engineering students learn their trade through hands-on work starting in their very first year. Hands-on design projects courses, extra-curricular opportunities such as Engineers Without Borders, and exciting co-op and internship experiences prepare our students with the technical, professional, and team skills that make them competitive for jobs after graduation. Students also have the opportunity to gain professional exposure through student societies on campus, which include the Architectural Engineering Institute and the Illuminating Engineering Society.
Architectural engineering tracks are available in construction management, electrical/lighting systems, mechanical systems, and structural systems. There also is an option to pursue a track in engineering science.
The department has a wide variety of laboratory facilities, including a state-of-the-art building energy facility, an illumination laboratory, and one of the largest structural laboratories in the Rocky Mountain region, all of which offer opportunities for independent study as well as undergraduate and graduate research. Students can participate in research on building efficiency and often work with the University of Colorado facilities management department and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Other research opportunities include construction safety, energy-efficient lighting, and a host of structural testing projects on sustainable and energy-efficient materials.
Undergraduate students are encouraged to pursue research opportunities through independent study, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship program, or research assistantships with faculty.
CU graduates in architectural engineering are working at such companies as Accenture, Whiting-Turner Contracting, Elkhorn Construction, Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction, The Shaw Group, Sage Associates, Design West Architecture, and at lighting firms such as Cooper Lighting, LiteControl, and MCLA, to name only a few.
About 20 percent of CU-Boulder engineering bachelor’s graduates (college-wide) continue onto graduate school, gaining admittance to top schools such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Employment for architectural engineers is estimated to show average growth of between 7 and 13 percent through 2016. Significant growth is expected for jobs in energy efficiency and renewable technologies of building energy systems. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The average starting salary nationally for an architectural engineer in 2010 was $55,265. CU-Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering reported an average starting offer of $50,923.