Psychiatric Engineering

By: Leela Hudnall, Reporter, Manager

Engineering is a wide and wondrous field, full of tons of different specialties. That is to say, there is something for everyone. People who go into engineering often start off with the idea that they are going to build rockets or bridges, because that is “about all an engineer does.” However, that assumption is actually very misleading because once you learn a little bit more about engineering, one can deduce that there is a whole lot more to the field than bridges and rockets. Although yes, you can be a civil engineer, who builds bridges, or an aerospace engineer, who builds rockets, thousands of more engineering types exist, ranging from mechanical to electrical to environmental, and many more. One of the lesser known types of engineering is called precision psychiatric engineering, or psychological engineering. Similar to biotechnological engineers, psychiatric engineering focuses on creating technology to help solve problems that facilities face during psychiatric care or research. 

Creating technology such as devices, diagnostic tools, new robotics, and software, can significantly change the way psychiatrists go about treatment and research to improve mental health and knowledge of the brain. Studying and treating different illnesses of the brain requires a lot of knowledge and research, and by combining psychiatry and engineering, that knowledge and research can be done much faster and with much higher quality. When you combine biotechnology and electrical engineering, you can create things that work very efficiently with the brain, as it essentially is just a complex biological circuit. There are endless possibilities for creating better systems for therapies, treatments, and imaging systems, all throughout engineering. Psychiatry is a growing field, which means a growing demand for newer and more advanced technologies. 

Engineering psychologists work a little bit on the inverse, using psychology to solve real world problems. Psychological rules apply to most of the population, and by knowing and using that knowledge, psychological engineers can make technology and the world a safer, more efficient place. By focusing on people and their interactions with technology, these engineers use their problem solving skills to make things easily accessible, and safe to use. Jobs like these range from deciding where to put the blinker switch on your car, to making sure your safety features are simple and understandable, in case you actually are in danger. They not only study how to do things right, but study how others have done things wrong, all in an attempt to do them better the next time. The job of a psychological engineer is never ending, attempting to minimize human error and make the world a better, safer place. 

If you are ever thinking of learning more about engineering, or maybe even going into the field, make sure you do your research on all the amazing options that are available to you. Things like psychiatric based engineering are not commonly talked about, but are a great source for learning, and can create a very interesting field for someone with diverse interests. Engineering has synergy with many other fields, and many people don’t realize how opportunity-rich the field is. Going into engineering is often seen as just a way to provide a substantial paycheck, but it is also an extremely gratifying field. For anyone who enjoys problem solving and lifelong learning, Engineering can be more than just a job, it can be an amazing, lifelong career. 

Engineering Psychiatry Research Program (EPRP). Engineering Psychiatry Research Program (EPRP) | Electrical and Computer Engineering. (n.d.).

Precision psychiatry: Engineering therapies for better mental health. Stanford School of Engineering. (2017, August 30). 

Cherry, K. (n.d.). Why Engineering Psychology Is One of the Highest Paid Psychology Jobs. Verywell Mind.,traffic%20systems%2C%20and%20motor%20vehicles. 

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