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Glossary of engineering

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This glossary of engineering terms is a list of definitions about the major concepts of engineering. Please see the bottom of the page for glossaries of specific fields of engineering.


AEdit

Absolute electrode potential
.
Absolute motion
.
Absolute pressure
Pressure measured in reference to a vacuum
Absolute zero
The coldest possible temperature, at which all molecular vibration stops; −273.15° Celsius, or −459.67° Fahrenheit.
Absorbance
.
AC power
Electric power delivered by alternating current; common household power is AC. .
Acceleration
The rate at which the velocity of a body changes with time, and the direction in which that change is acting.
Acid
.
Acid-base reaction
.
Acid strength
In strong acids, most of the molecules give up a hydrogen ion and become ionized.
Acoustics
The scientific study of sound.
Activated sludge
.
Activated sludge model
.
Active transport
Transportation of people by walking, cycling, or other human=-powered methods.
Actuator
The final element of a control loop, that translates control signals into a physical output movement.
Adenosine triphosphate
.
Adhesion
.
Adiabatic process
A process where no heat energy is lost to outside space.
Adiabatic wall
A barrier through which heat energy cannot pass.
Aerobic digestion
.
Aerodynamics
.
Aerospace engineering
.
Afocal system
.
Agricultural engineering
The profession of designing machinery, processes and systems for use in agriculture.
Albedo
A measure of the fraction of light reflected from an astronomical body or other object.
Alkane
.
Alkene
.
Alkyne
.
Alloy
.
Alpha particle
.
Alternating current
Electrical current that regularly reverses direction.
Alternative hypothesis
.
Ammeter
An instrument that measures current.
Amino acid
.
Amorphous solid
.
Ampere
The SI unit of current flow, one coulomb per second.
Amphoterism
.
Amplifier
A device that replicates a signal with increased power.
Amplitude
.
Anaerobic digestion
.
Angular acceleration
.
Angular momentum
.
Angular velocity
.
Anion
.
Annealing (metallurgy)
A heat treatment process that relieves internal stresses.
Annihilation
.
Anode
The electrode at which current enters a device such as an electrochemical cell or vacuum tube.
ANSI
American National Standards Institute.
Antigravity
.
Applied engineering
.
Applied mathematics
Mathematics used for solutions of practical problems, as opposed to pure mathematics.
Arc length
.
Archimedes' principle
.
Area moment of inertia
.
Arithmetic mean
.
Arithmetic sequence
.
Aromatic hydrocarbon
.
Arrhenius equation
.
Artificial intelligence
The intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it..
Assembly language
A computer programming language where most statements correspond to one or a few machine op-codes.
Atomic packing factor
The percentage of the volume filled with atomic mass in a crystal formation.
Audio frequency
.
Austenitization
.
Automation
.
Automaton
An early self-operating robot, performing exactly the same actions, over and over..
Autonomous vehicle
A vehicle capable of driving from one point to another without input from a human operator.
Azimuthal quantum number
.

BEdit

Barometer
A device for measuring pressure.
Battery
Electrochemical cells that transform chemical energy into electricity..
Base
.
Baud
Rate at which data is transferred in symbols/second; a symbol may represent one or more bits.
Beam
A structural element whose length is significantly greater than its width or height.
Beer–Lambert law
.
Belt
A closed loop of flexible material used to transmit mechancial power from one pulley to another.
Belt friction
.
Bending
.
Benefit–cost analysis
.
Bending moment
The product of bending force and distance, measured in units of length * distance..
Bernoulli differential equation
.
Bernoulli's equation
An equation for relating several measurements within a fluid flow, such as velocity, pressure, and potential energy.
Bernoulli's principle
.
Beta particle
.
Binomial random variable
.
Biocatalysis
.
Biomedical engineering
.
Biomimetic
.
Bionics
The application of biological methods to engineering systems.
Biophysics
.
Biot number
.
Block and tackle
A system of pulleys and a rope threaded between them, used to lift or pull heavy loads.
Body force
.
Boiler
A device whose purpose is to add heat to a working fluid in order to vaporize it..
Boiler (power generation)
A boiler used in a power plant for electricity or propulsion.
Boiling point
The state at which a substance becomes gaseous.
Boiling-point elevation
.
Boltzmann constant
.
Boson
.
Boyle's law
.
Bravais lattice
.
Brayton cycle
A thermdynamic cycle model for an ideal heat engine, in which heat is added or removed at constant pressure; approximated by a gas turbine.
Break-even analysis
.
Brewster's angle
.
Brittle
.
Bromide
Any chemical substance made up of Bromine, along with other elements.
Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory
.
Brownian motion
.
Buckingham π theorem
A method for determining ∏ groups, or dimensionless descriptors of physical phenomena.
Buffer solution
.
Bulk modulus
.
Buoyancy
A force caused by displacement in a fluid by an object of different density than the fluid.

CEdit

Calculus
The mathematics of change.
Capacitance
The ability of a body to store electrical charge.
Capacitive reactance
The impedance of a capacitor in an alternating current circuit, the opposition to current flow.
Capacitor
An electrical component that stores energy in an electric field.
Capillarity
.
Carbonate
Any mineral with bound carbon dioxide.
Carnot cycle
A hypothetical thermodynamic cycle for a heat engine; no thermodynamic cycle can be more efficient than a Carnot cycle operating between the same two temperature limits.
Cartesian coordinates
Coordinates within a rectangular Cartesian plane.
Castigliano's method
.
Casting
Forming of an object by pouring molten metal (or other substances) into a mold.
Cathode
The terminal of a device by which current exits.
Cathode ray
The stream of electrons emitted from a heated negative electrode and attracted to a positive electrode.
Cell membrane
.
Cell nucleus
.
Cell theory
.
Center of gravity
The center of mas of an object, its balance point.
Center of mass
The weighted center of an object; a force applied through the center of mass will not cause rotation of the object.
Center of pressure
.
Central force motion
.
Central limit theorem
.
Central processing unit
.
Centripetal acceleration
.
Centripetal force
A force acting against rotational acceleration.
Centroid
The average point of volume for an object.
Centrosome
.
Chain reaction
.
Change of base rule
.
Charles's law
.
Chemical bond
.
Chemical compound
.
Chemical equilibrium
.
Chemical kinetics
.
Chemical reaction
.
Chemistry
.
Chloride
Any chemical compound containing the element chlorine.
Chromate
.
Circular motion
.
Civil engineering
The profession that deals with the design and construction of structures, or other fixed works.
Clausius–Clapeyron relation
.
Clausius inequality
.
Clausius theorem
.
Coefficient of performance
.
Coefficient of variation
.
Coherence
.
Cohesion
.
Combustion
.
Compensation
.
Compiler
A computer program that translates a high-level language into machine language.
Compressive strength
.
Computational fluid dynamics
The numerical solution of flow equations in practical problems such as aircraft design or hydraulic structures.
Computer
.
Computer-aided design
.
Computer-aided engineering
.
Computer-aided manufacturing
.
Computer engineering
.
Computer science
.
Concave lens
.
Condensed matter physics
.
Confidence interval
.
Conjugate acid
.
Conjugate base
.
Conservation of energy
.
Conservation of mass
.
Continuity equation
.
Continuum mechanics
.
Control systems engineering
.
Convex lens
.
Corrosion
.
Cosmic rays
.
Coulomb
.
Coulomb's law
.
Covalent bond
.
Crookes tube
A type of vacuum tube that demonstrates cathode rays.
Cryogenics
The science of low temperatures.
Crystallization
.
Crystallography
The study of crystals.
Curvilinear motion
.
Cyclotron
A subatomic particle accelerator using fixed magnets to direct particles into a spiral path.

DEdit

Dalton's law
.
Damped vibration
Any vibration with a force acting against it in order to lessen the vibration over time.
Darcy–Weisbach equation
An equation used in fluid mechanics to find the pressure change cause by friction within a pipe or conduit.
DC motor
An electrical motor driven by direct current.
Decibel
A logarithmic unit of ratios.
Definite integral
.
Deflection
.
Deformation (engineering)
.
Deformation (mechanics)
.
Degrees of freedom
The number of parameters required to define the motion of a dynamical system.
Delta robot
A tripod linkage, used to construct fast-acting manipulators with a wide range of movement.
Delta-wye transformer
A type of transformer used in three-phase power systems.
De Moivre–Laplace theorem
.
Density
The amount of mass in a given unit of volume.
Derivative
.
Design engineering
.
Dew point
The pressure and temperature at which air is holding the maximum possible humidity.
Dielectric
An insulator, a material that does not permit free flow of electricty.
Differential pressure
.
Differential pulley
.
Differential signaling
.
Diffusion
.
Dimensional analysis
.
Direct integration of a beam
.
Dispersion
.
Displacement (fluid)
.
Displacement (vector)
.
Distance
.
Doppler effect
.
Drag
.
Drift current
.
Ductility
.
Dynamics
.
Dyne
The CGS unit of force.

EEdit

FEdit

Factor of safety
.
Falling bodies
.
Farad
The SI unit of capacitance.
Faraday
.
Faraday constant
.
Fermat's principle
.
Fick's laws of diffusion
.
Finite element method
.
FIRST
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – is an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 in order to develop ways to inspire students in engineering and technology fields.
Fission
.
Fixed capacitor
.
Fixed inductor
.
Fixed resistor
.
Flow velocity
.
Fluid
.
Fluid dynamics
.
Fluid mechanics
.
Fluid physics
.
Fluid statics
.
Flywheel
.
Focus
.
Foot-pound
In the systems that use feet, the unit of work.
Fracture toughness
.
Fraunhofer lines
.
Free fall
.
Frequency modulation
.
Freezing point
.
Friction
.
Function
.
Fundamental frequency
.
Fundamental interaction
.
Fundamental theorem of calculus
.
Fundamentals of Engineering Examination
.
Fusion
.

GEdit

HEdit

Half-life
The period at which one-half of a quantity of an unstable isotope has decayed into other elements; the time at which half of a substance has diffused out of or otherwise reacted in a system.
Haptic
Tactile feedback technology using the operator's sense of touch. Also sometimes applied to robot manipulators with their own touch sensitivity.
Hardness
.
Harmonic mean
.
Heat
The energy of molecular vibration.
Heat transfer
.
Helmholtz free energy
.
Henderson–Hasselbalch equation
.
Henry's law
.
Hertz
The SI unit of frequency, one cycle per second.
Hexapod
(platform) – a movable platform using six linear actuators. Often used in flight simulators they also have applications as a robotic manipulator.
Hexapod
(walker) – a six-legged walking robot, using a simple insect-like locomotion.
Hoist
.
Horsepower
In measurement systems that use feet, the unit of power.
Huygens–Fresnel principle
.
Hydraulics
The study of fluid flow, or the generation of mechanical force and movement by liquid under pressure.
Hydrocarbon
A compound containing hydrogen and carbon atoms only; petroleum is made of hydrocarbons.

IEdit

Ice point
.
Ideal gas
A model for gases that ignores inter-molecular forces. Most gases are approximately ideal at some high temperature and low pressure.
Ideal gas constant
The constant in the gas law that relates pressure, volume and temperature.
Ideal gas law
An equation defining behavior of an ideal gas.
Indefinite integral
.
Identity
.
Impedance (electrical)
.
Inertia
.
Infrasound
.
Integral
.
Integral transform
.
International System of Units
.
Interval estimation
.
Ion
.
Ionic bond
.
Ionization
.
Impedance
The measure of the opposition that a circuit presents to the passage of a current when a voltage is applied.
Inclined plane
.
Inductance
.
Inductor
.
Industrial engineering
.
Inorganic chemistry
.
Isotope
.

JEdit

Joule
The SI unit of energy.
Joule heating
.

KEdit

Kalman filter
A mathematical technique to estimate the value of a sensor measurement, from a series of intermittent and noisy values.
Kelvin
The SI scale for temperature relative to absolute zero.
Kelvin–Planck statement
.
Kinematics
.

LEdit

Laminar flow
.
Laplace transform
.
LC circuit
A circuit consisting entirely of inductors (L) and capacitors (C).
Le Chatelier's principle
.
Lenz's law
.
Lepton
.
Lever
.
L'Hôpital's rule
.
Light
.
Linear actuator
A form of motor that generates a linear movement directly.
Linear algebra
The mathematics of equations where the unknowns are only in the first power.
Linear elasticity
.
Liquid
.
Logarithm
.
Logarithmic identities
.
Logarithmic mean temperature difference
.
Lumped capacitance model
.
Lumped element model
.

MEdit

NEdit

Nanoengineering
.
Nanotechnology
The technology of systems built with moving parts on the order of a nanometre in size.
Navier–Stokes equations
.
Neutrino
A neutral particle.
Newtonian fluid
.
Norton's theorem
.
Nozzle
.
nth root
To put a number of function to the exponential power of 1/n.
Nuclear binding energy
Teh difference between the total mass energy of a nucleus and the mass energy of the isolated nucleons.
Nuclear engineering
The profession that deals with nuclear power.
Nuclear physics
The science that describes the components of atoms.
Nuclear potential energy
The energy that is given up in decay of an unstable nucleus.
Nuclear power
The use of energy derived from nuclear chain reactions for electricity production or ship propulsion.

OEdit

Ohm
The SI unit of electrical resistance.
Ohm's law
A law describing the relationship between resistance, current, and voltage.
Optics
The study of light.
Organic chemistry
The study of carbon compounds.
Osmosis
The spontaneous movement of molecules or ions through a semi-permable membrane, tending to equalize concentration on both sides.

PEdit

Parallel circuit
A circuit that begins and ends at the same node as another circuit.
Parity (mathematics)
.
Parity (physics)
.
Paraffin
A hydrocarbon compound, solid at room temperature.
Paramagnetism
.
Particle accelerator
.
Particle displacement
.
Particle physics
.
Pascal's Law
.
Pendulum
.
Petroleum engineering
.
pH
A logarithmic measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions in an acid or base solution.
Phase (matter)
.
Phase (waves)
.
Phase equilibrium
.
Photon
A particle with no rest mass that carries electromagnetic energy.
Physical chemistry
.
Physical quantity
.
Physics
.
Planck constant
.
Plasma physics
.
Plasticity
.
Pneumatics
The control of mechanical force and movement, generated by the application of compressed gas.
Point estimation
.
Polyphase system
An electrical system that uses a set of alternating currents at different phases.
Power (electric)
.
Power (physics)
.
Power factor
.
Pressure
The force per unit area .
Probability
.
Probability distribution
.
Probability theory
.
Psi particle
.
Pulley
.
Pump
.

QEdit

REdit

Regelation
The phenomena of melting under pressure, then freezing when the pressure is reduced.
Relative density
.
Relative velocity
.
Reliability engineering
.
Resistivity
.
Resistor
.
Reynolds number
.
Rheology
.
Rigid body
.
Robonaut
A development project conducted by NASA to create humanoid robots capable of using space tools and working in similar environments to suited astronauts..
Robotics
.
Root-mean-square
.
Root-mean-square speed
.
Rotational energy
.
Rotational speed
.

SEdit

Safety data sheet
.
Sanitary engineering
.
Saturation (chemistry)
.
Saturated compound
.
Scalar (mathematics)
.
Scalar (physics)
.
Scalar multiplication
.
Screw
.
Series circuit
An electrical circuit in which the same current passes through each component, with only one path.
Servo
A motor that moves to and maintains a set position under command, rather than continuously moving.
Servomechanism
An automatic device that uses error-sensing negative feedback to correct the performance of a mechanism.
Shadow matter
.
Shear flow
.
Shear strength
.
Shear stress
.
Shortwave radiation
.
SI units
.
Signal processing
.
Simple machine
A mechanical device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force.
Siphon
A closed tube that conveys liquids between two levels without pumping.
Solid mechanics
.
Solid-state physics
.
Solid solution strengthening
.
Solubility
.
Sound
.
Special relativity
.
Specific heat
The amount of energy required to change the temperature of a unit mass of substance by one degree.
Specific gravity
The ratio between the mass density of a substance to that of water.
Specific volume
The volume of a unit mass of a substance.
Specific weight
The weight of a substance per unit volume.
Spontaneous combustion
.
Stagnation pressure
.
Standard electrode potential
.
State of matter
.
Statics
The study of forces in a non-moving, rigid body.
Statistics
.
Steam table
.
Stefan–Boltzmann law
.
Stewart platform
a movable platform using six linear actuators, hence also known as a Hexapod.
Stiffness
.
Stoichiometry
.
Strain
.
Strain hardening
.
Strength of materials
.
Stress
.
Stress-strain analysis
.
Stress-strain curve
.
Structural analysis
.
Structural load
.
Sublimation
.
Subsumption architecture
a robot architecture that uses a modular, bottom-up design beginning with the least complex behavioral tasks.
Surface tension
.
Superconductor
.
Superhard material
.
Supersaturation
.
Surgical robot
a remote manipulator used for keyhole surgery.

TEdit

Tangential acceleration
.
Technical standard
.
Temperature
The measure of heat energy in an object or fluid.
Tempering (metallurgy)
Heat treatment to alter the crystal structure of a metal such as steel.
Tensile force
Pulling force, tending to lengthen an object.
Tensile modulus
.
Tensile strength
.
Tensile testing
.
Tension member
.
Thermal conduction
.
Thermal equilibrium
.
Thermal radiation
.
Thermodynamics
The science of the flow of heat.
Theory of relativity
.
Thévenin's theorem
.
Three-phase
Electric power using three alternating currents, displaced in time.
Torque
Twisting force.
Torsional vibration
.
Toughness
.
Trajectory
.
Transducer
.
Transformer
.
Trigonometric functions
.
Trigonometry
.
Trimean
.
Triple point
.
Trouton's rule
.
Truncated mean
.
Truss
.
Turbine
.
Turbomachinery
.
Turbulence
.

UEdit

VEdit

WEdit

Watt
The SI unit of power, rate of doing work.
Wave
.
Wavelength
.
Wedge
.
Weighted mean
.
Wet-bulb temperature
The temperature of a wetted thermometer with an air current across it. Used in psychrometry. .
Wheel and axle
.
Winsorized mean
.

XEdit

YEdit

Y-coordinate
.
Yield
The point of maximum elastic deformation of a material; above yield the material is permanently deformed.
Young's modulus
A measure of the stiffness of a material; the amount of force per unit area require to produce a unit strain.

ZEdit

Zero Defects
A quality assurance philosophy that aims to reduce the need for inspection of components by improving their quality.
Zeroth law of thermodynamics
The equivalence principle applied to temperature; two systems in thermal equiplbirum with a third are also in thermal equilibrium with each other.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit