Proposal: Engineering

As most engineering concepts are related to physics (Thermodynamics/Fluid dynamics/Heat transfer/Statics/Dynamics etc), how would this site differentiate itself from the Physics SE?


After reading the link above, I am inclined to believe (perhaps mistakenly) that the most likely outcome of Engineering SE is to host questions which pertain to the specific application of Engineering, such as Design.

Could we still ask conceptual questions in Engineering SE? Since it would most likely result in a duplicate over at the Physics SE, or that the answer could already been found there.

6 Answers 6


Not very many traffic engineering questions (for example) would be answerable on the Physics site. While the question might at some level involve friction, power, combustion and so on, these are likely just details of a more complicated question.

Even in disciplines like mechanical and aerospace engineering, which might appear to be more strictly subsets of physics, providing a good answer to a true engineering question will still require things like professional experience, public data, design codes, etc. Social, political and economic considerations that are irrelevant to purely physical problems are very relevant to engineering problems.

Some questions could be answered on both sites, but they would likely be answered in different ways. For example, a physics answer to a question about the strength of a material might discuss bonding geometries, where an engineering answer is more likely to reference common practice, structural codes, availability and cost of materials, etc.


Isn't physics theoretical (what happens if) and engineering taking the theory and applying it (knowing that x happens if..., how do I do y)?

  • It depends if the audience of the site consists solely of engineering practitioners, or that it includes engineering students.
    – t.c
    Oct 2, 2014 at 15:05
  • A lot of users on Physics are staunch supporters of experimental physics (and make it known!). Most questions are theoretical, but a fair amount are experimental.
    – HDE 226868
    Jan 23, 2015 at 2:53

Physics specifically has engineering questions as off-topic. The ones I've seen closed for this reason tend to be along the lines of, "How made a device to do X?".

Inevitably there will be some overlap, particularly towards the the more theoretical/mathematical end of engineering. This does not necessarily have to be a problem any more than the overlap with EE or other specific engineering discipline sites would be.

I think inevitably Engineering questions would be more application focused than Physics questions but that is the nature of engineering. There are also many other aspects of an application than just design, such as manufacture and metrology, which would not be well suited to a physics question.

  • 1
    Here is the meta discussion on physics.SE that defines off-topic engineering questions.
    – Air
    Oct 10, 2014 at 22:22
  • 4
    In practice, he physics SE takes a pretty hard line against engineering. This site will probably catch a lot of stuff that might seem like "experimental-physics." Let's be nice to those poor souls.
    – Dan
    Nov 11, 2014 at 6:30

Typically when answering a question, physics attempts to be as exact as possible. Engineering attempts to be appropriately conservative in the interest of safety and reliability while still being sensitive to costs. So even where a question might be appropriate to both forums, the type of answer being sought will be different.

The engineering answer includes some notion of physics, but it mostly based on models that are established in codes and standard practice.


Physics is not only single subject of engineering. There are lot other things that can come under engineering like chemistry, mathematics, Computer Knowledge, Artificial Intelligence, That all things comes under it

  • Don't forget about the procedural side of engineering ... like Systems Engineering ... Dec 11, 2014 at 9:06

Engineering isn't all about the theory. It's about practicality and creativity. You may have heard the quote: "Scientists study the world as it is, But engineers creates a world which has never been"

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