Studies & Degrees in Textile Engineering

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Textile engineering combines elements of scientific, engineering, and creative fields and brings them to bear on the textiles industry (i.e. the manufacture of cloth and other woven fabrics). It is a highly specialized field that feeds directly into the relevant industries, particularly the apparel industry. Despite its narrowness as a discipline, however, textile engineering is exciting because it enables students to draw on a wide range of areas within engineering – such as materials, manufacturing, and human factors – and integrate them all into the work of a specific industry.
While the technology of textiles may not seem cutting-edge, this is only because the innovative and exciting aspects of textile engineering are subtle, and may be invisible to the untrained eye. Experts in textile engineering, however, understand the complexity of even the most everyday fabrics. If, for example, you are wearing a pair of blue jeans, there is a good chance that some of the materials in those jeans were created by modern textile engineers.
Personal Qualities
  • Genuine fascination with textiles, fabrics, and woven goods
  • Attention to detail and good analytic skills
  • Strengths in math, quantitative reasoning, and logic
  • Patience, diligence, and willingness to work on small details of a project for long periods of time without growing bored
Study Options
Because it is such a specialized area of study, programs in textile engineering generally must adhere to a fairly rigid course structure. The advantage of this is that it provides an education that is extremely acutely targeted to a specific line of work. Often, textile engineering programs will include work requirements such as internships that will provide you with real-world experience to complement your in-class studies.
One popular option for people who want to study textile engineering in order to work in the private sector is to do a combined engineering/business degree. Several schools in the United States and other countries offer programs of this kind, and they are particularly common in fields like textile engineering. Because the applications of textile engineering in business are so immediate, they can be a good idea for students to learn both about the engineering side of textile manufacturing and about the business/management side. This enormously broadens their career options and enables them to achieve success in various positions.
Career Options
The textiles industry is a massive global network of researchers, manufacturers, retailers, and users. As such, there is a surprisingly broad range of possibilities for careers. A person with a degree in textile engineering might work on designing innovative fabrics for a clothing company, for example, or might help create medical fabrics for use in a hospital. Quality control, management, and other positions in manufacturing are available as well.