Distance learning degree programs have become increasingly popular because of the internet, but some disciplines like those in engineering have traditionally had limited online programs because of their inherent lab requirements. The internet has proven to be the educational platform of the future, and many universities have adopted the philosophy of "where there is a will there is a way" when it comes to providing web based science and technical instruction. Curricula developers have generated innovative programs that allow aspiring engineers to complete the majority of their programs via the internet and to make limited visits to main campuses or satellite facilities for lab work. Other programs actually do not require that students visit physical labs to complete their assignments. Cloud based computing in the field of higher education gives students access to numerous applications that can be used anywhere regardless of the students' computer hardware and software configurations. Here are a few examples of how civil engineer, computer engineer and electrical engineer candidates acquire the skills that they need in web based environments.

Resource: 30 Most Affordable Top Online Master's Degree Programs in Engineering

Civil Engineer Degree Programs

Civil engineer students learn about the structural design of roads, bridges, tunnels, subways and airports. They take courses in areas like physics, geology, thermodynamics, calculus, hydraulics, soil mechanics and construction. Even though labs for subjects like hydraulics and soil mechanics are needed, some schools use computer modeling and simulation software to mimic common environments in which these engineer candidates will likely work in the future. Subsequently, there are many schools that offer 100 percent web based degree programs for civil engineers at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.

Computer Engineer Degree Programs

Computer engineers are credited with the design and deployment of today's numerous computing devices and accessories. Their skills are used for the generation of hardware devices, software products and network infrastructure. Some of the course topics that are usually incorporated into their degree programs include computer architecture, programming languages, circuit design and analysis as well as embedded microprocessor design. Third party industry associations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers recognize the critical role that labs play in helping undergraduate students to synthesize theoretical knowledge through experimental applications. However, they also highlight research that relates to Virtual Electronic Laboratory environments which promise to enhance the curricula of distance learning programs for engineers.

Electrical Engineer Degree Programs

Besides the heavy course load requirements in advanced mathematics and science that are typical of most engineering programs, electrical engineer candidates must also take courses in areas like electromagnetism and electronics circuitry. Many of the courses for electrical engineers are the same ones that are taken by computer engineers. While there are some web based undergraduate programs in this specialization, most universities offer distance learning options for electrical engineers at the graduate level because of the frequent need for hands on work during undergraduate programs.

Participating in web based degree programs is often the most cost effective and convenient route to degree completion even for aspiring engineers. These students should verify that their chosen distance learning programs are accredited by ABET prior to enrollment. Choosing programs that incorporate optional internships or supervised field work assignments can also give online students an extra boost of confidence that they can actually apply learned theoretical knowledge to real world situations. However, most engineer candidates and instructors find that a hybrid program that combines web based learning with limited onsite meetings is the ideal educational format for online engineering degree programs that have lab requirements.