Engineering the application of science to the design, construction and maintenance of works, machinery, roads, railways, bridges, harbour installations, engines, ships, aircraft and airports, spacecraft and space stations, and the generation, transmission and use of electrical power. The main divisions of engineering are civil, mechanical, structural, electrical, electronic, materials, mining, gas, marine, production, communication, etc. The root of engineering can be traced to the dawn of civilisation and to some extent the history of engineering is the history of humanity's progress in using tools and observations on the nature of matter to overcome physical limitations and to modify, harness and control the natural environment. Highly organised, complex engineering works were a prominent feature of many of the civilisations of antiquity, where abundant technical skills were employed in the design and construction of fortifications, monuments, roads, aqueducts, irrigation networks and other installations, some of which are still in use. The modern engineering profession is the result of two important developments in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries: the Industrial Revolution and the increasing reliability of science. Institutions for engineering education were founded around the world during this time; specialised engineering disciplines began to develop and the stage was set for an explosion of technical knowledge in the 20th century.

There were only two kinds of engineers until the Industrial Revolution. The military engineer built such things as fortifications, catapults and, later, cannons. The civil engineer built bridges, harbours, aqueducts, buildings, and other structures. During the early 19th century in England mechanical engineering developed as a separate field to provide manufacturing machines and the engines to power them. The first British professional society of civil engineers was formed in 1818; that for mechanical engineers followed in 1847. In the United States, the order of growth of the different branches of engineering, measured by the date a professional society was formed, is civil engineering (1852), mining and metallurgical engineering (1871), mechanical engineering (1880) and chemical engineering (1908), etc. Aeronautical engineering, industrial engineering, and genetic engineering, etc are more modern developments. In Bangladesh the Institution of Engineers, the professional society of engineers, was formed on 5 May 1948.

The early history of engineering in the subcontinent, including Bengal, is largely that of construction of houses, buildings and roads, and embankments for flood mitigation. Indigenous engineering still in use includes techniques of building boats and dwellings, making carts, irrigation and agricultural equipment, household tools, etc. Relics of ancient civilisations including those at mahasthangarh in Bogra, paharpur in Naogaon, mainamati in Comilla bear testimony to the construction skills that existed in those days. An irrigation canal system is known to have existed in the ancient period (before 1213 A.D.) from Vedic literature and epics. Temples and places of worship were also constructed. Many monuments, mausoleums, palaces, forts and mosques were constructed during the Sultani Period and the Mughal Period. The Tajmahal at Agra in India, the legendary mausoleum built by Emperor Shajahan over the tomb of his wife Empress Noorjahan, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

In his Memoir of a Map of Hindustan or the Mughal Empire published in 1788, Major james rennell gave an account of roads and canals used for transportation in the bengal basin before the advent of British colonial rule. Roads were built connecting military fortifications and townships. During the later part of Mughal rule and with the arrival of European traders, as commerce grew, river navigation also grew in importance. The entire development of riverside commercial modes in the Bengal region during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries was related to the prosperity of inland waterways. In the early days of colonial rule (1757-1947) improvement of road communication was largely to facilitate military movement and postal communication. About the middle of the colonial period, British engineers undertook the work of surveying and mapping, improvement of road and water transport and building of railroads. Rennell completed the first ever survey of Bengal and published maps on a 12 miles to an inch scale in his 'Bengal Atlas' in 1781. In Rennell's map of 'Navigation in Bengal' published in 1792, all the principal navigation routes were included. In his 'Map of Hindustan', Rennell noted six major roads linking calcutta with the outlying regions, of which two land routes extended into the region of today's Bangladesh.

River steamer services in the bengal delta started on the initiative of James Johnston. In 1829 Johnston was placed in temporary command of all steamers on the Bengal rivers under the Marine Board and in 1830 he was sent to Britain to advise on the design and construction of steamers suitable for navigation on Indian rivers. By the 1860s east indian railways had been established as a quicker and more reliable mode of transport. The Eastern Bengal State Railway line was opened for traffic in 1862 with a line stretching from Calcutta to kushtia. Within the first two decades of the beginning of railways in India, the construction of basic trunk routes was complete and then began a growth of feeders, and the construction of minor lines on a narrow gauge and at a cheaper cost. The construction of the hardinge bridge across the ganges near Sara, Paksey in 1915 led to the extension of the broad gauge up to Santahar.

After the end of colonial rule, the need for a better infrastructure was felt and development was initiated for power generation, flood control, drainage works, and irrigation. The construction of new roads, bridges and, manufacturing industries, and improvement of existing ones, were undertaken, along with the exploration of gas and mineral resources. Following the flood havoc in 1954 and 1955 some flood embankments and drainage works were constructed and some major schemes were initiated. The implementation of the ganges-kobadak irrigation project (G-K Project) was initiated in 1954 and the construction of a pumping station with an initial phase of the canal system was completed in 1962. About the same time karnafuli hydro power station with a dam on the karnafuli river was completed in 1962, with a generation capacity of 80 MW.

To provide protection against floods a 217-km embankment was constructed during 1963-1968 on the right bank of the Brahmaputra-Jamuna river from Kaunia to Sirajganj. During 1961-1968, a complex network of embankments was constructed in the coastal regions of Bangladesh under the Coastal Embankment Project to prevent saline water intrusion as well as tidal and upland river floods. The coastal embankment project extending over 1.4 million ha (14,000 sq km) ranks high on the list of earth moving projects in the world. It comprises some 4,037 km of embankment forming 104 polders (areas enclosed by embankments) and 1,039 drainage sluices.

A number of other major flood control drainage and irrigation projects, such as the Karnafuli Irrigation Project, Chandpur Irrigation Project, Meghna-Dhonagoda Irrigation Project, Muhuri Irrigation Project, Pabna Irrigation Project were constructed between the 1960s and the 1980s. A barrage over the tista river at Duani in rangpur was constructed during 1980-90 to provide irrigation by gravity distribution through a canal system over a target area of 540,000 ha in the greater districts of Rangpur, dinajpur and Bogra. Other prominent engineering works include the national assembly building constructed in the 1970s in Dhaka, the East-West interconnector for transmission of power across the jamuna river and the national martyrs' memorial built at savar in 1980s and the bangabandhu jamuna multipurpose bridge constructed over the Jamuna river in 1998. Flyovers are now being constructed in Dhaka city.

Manufacturing and process industries started to grow gradually in the 1950s and 1960s, first starting with jute mills. Then sugar, textile, ceramic and fertiliser factories followed. Gas fields were developed in sylhet and Comilla, pipelines constructed and gas supply began in the 1970s in the eastern and southern region of Bangladesh for domestic and industrial use. Since the 1980s there has been substantial improvement in the construction industry both in terms of capability and quality. Multistoried buildings constructed since the last decade has changed the skyline of metropolitan Dhaka, but at the cost of severe shortage of power and water supply and inadequate sewage disposal and storm water drainage facilities. Industrialisation and growth of the urban population and motor vehicles intensified the problems of pollution, disease, fire and earthquake hazards in cities.

Engineering fields of specialization as a diverse discipline, engineering includes a number of major branches or fields of specialisation. These branches were created in response to an ever-expanding base of technological knowledge. Principal branches of engineering in Bangladesh are: agricultural engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, surveying and geodetic engineering, transportation engineering, water resources engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, metallurgical and materials engineering, naval architecture and marine engineering, industrial engineering, petroleum and mineral resources engineering, and textile engineering.

Engineering education The history of engineering education in Bangladesh dates back to 1876 when the Dhaka Survey School was founded at Nalgola in a rented building to train surveyors for the government of Bengal in British India. In order to facilitate and promote education of the Muslims, Nawab Khwaja Ahsanullah donated 1.12 lac Rupees in 1905 for the upgrading, development and expansion of this institution. In 1906 the school building was constructed at government initiative near the present Shahidullah Hall of dhaka university. Even a few years ago a tall chimney that existed at this location used to bear testimony to this institution. The school was renamed as the Ahsanullah Engineering School in 1908 in recognition of the Nawab's donation. In 1920 the school was shifted to the site where the bangladesh university of engineering and technology (BUET) is located. Initially the school was affiliated with dhaka college and later it was brought under the Director of Public Instruction.

After World War II the government took up large-scale plans for industrial development in Bengal, but there was acute shortage of skilled manpower. A government appointed committee made recommendations for establishing an Engineering College at Dhaka with an enrolment capacity of 120 to offer a 4-year bachelor's degree programme in mechanical, electrical, chemical and agricultural engineering. They also recommended that the Ahsanullah Engineering School should be shifted to the site of the Plasssey Barracks and for admission of 480 students in the 3-year diploma courses in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering.

In August 1947 the Ahsanullah Engineering School was upgraded to the Ahsanullah Engineering College (now BUET) as a Faculty of Engineering under the University of Dhaka, offering four-year bachelor's courses in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering with a view to meeting the increasing demand for engineers in the country and to expanding the facilities for the advancement of engineering education. Hakim Ali was appointed the first Principal of the college. In 1948 the Government of East Pakistan gave recognition to the Engineering College and approved a degree programme in civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, agricultural and textile engineering and a diploma programme in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. Later, metallurgical engineering was started instead of textile and agricultural engineering. In 1951 TH Mathewman was appointed principal and was succeeded in 1954 by ma rashid. In 1956 a new course-curricula and the semester system were introduced at the Ahsanullah Engineering College. In 1957 the enrolment capacity for the bachelor's degree was increased from 120 to 240 and the diploma course was withdrawn from 1958.

In order to create facilities for postgraduate studies and research, the Ahsanullah Engineering College was upgraded and the East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology established on 1st June 1962. MA Rashid was appointed the first Vice Chancellor. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, it was renamed as the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. At present the university has sixteen teaching departments under five faculties. All departments, with the exception of the Department of Humanities, offer degree programmes; however, some of them offer postgraduate degrees only.

To increase opportunities for engineering education Engineering Colleges were established in other regions of the country. Two engineering colleges (now called Institutes of Technology), one at Rajshahi and the other at Chittagong, were started in the early sixties offering a 4-year bachelor's degree programme in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. In the Rajshahi Engineering College the first batch of students entered in 1964 and graduated in 1968. In the mid-seventies the Khulna Engineering College was established. Another Engineering College was started at Gazipur to offer a three-and-a-half-year degree programme only for students who have completed 3-year diploma from Polytechnic Institutes. Engineering Colleges were affiliated to different universities. In the early eighties all four Engineering Colleges were converted to degree awarding institutions and named as the Bangladesh Institute of Technology, Rajshahi; Bangladesh Institute of Technology, Chittagong; Bangladesh Institute of Technology, Khulna; and Bangladesh Institute of Technology, Dhaka. The Council of BITs (Bangladesh Institute of Technology) located in Dhaka coordinates the activities of the four BITs.

Recently master's degree programmes have been started in each of the four BITs. The growth of engineering education in Bangladesh has been slow. In the 1990s private universities started to grow in Bangladesh and a few of these universities are offering some engineering degrees.

Technical and vocational education Several levels of technical and vocational education are offered in Bangladesh. The Directorate of Technical Education regulates and oversees these educational programmes. Four-year bachelor's degrees in textile engineering and leather technology are offered by the College of Textile Technology and the College of Leather Technology situated in Dhaka. A three-year diploma in engineering and architecture is offered in 20 Polytechnic Institutes spread over Bangladesh. This 3-year post-secondary education leads to a diploma in different subjects such as automobile engineering, architecture, refrigeration and air-conditioning, power, and civil, mechanical, and electrical. There is one Technical Teachers College for the training of teachers of Polytechnic Institutes. Programmes are also offered by various institutes leading to a diploma in commerce (secretarial science and accounting), textile, survey and in graphic arts. There are 16 commercial institutes in different places, one Institute of Graphic Arts and one of Glass and Ceramic in Dhaka, one Survey Institute in Rajshahi. Various trade courses are also offered in 51 vocational institutes. These include automotive, electrical, drafting (civil and mechanical), radio, TV, refrigeration and air-conditioning, welding, farm machinery, civil construction, carpentry, plumbing and pipe fitting, weaving, and building maintenance.

Professional societies The first professional society of engineers, the institution of engineers, bangladesh (IEB), was formed in May 1948. It is involved in promotional activities of the engineering profession and facilitates, exchange of knowledge, ideas and experience among engineers in the country and in other countries. It administers an Associate Membership examination Part A and B and after qualifying in these examinations one becomes an Associate Member of Institution Engineers (AMIE). With an AMIE one can get the same type of job as the engineers holding bachelor's degrees. IEB also arranges various training courses for engineers and technicians. The institution also publishes professional journals and newsletters regularly. Other engineering associations and societies formed in recent years include the Association of Consulting Engineers, Association of Self-employed Engineers, Society of Mechanical Engineers, Society of Geotechnical Engineers. [M Fazlul Bari]