Thermal engineering is a panoptic field of engineering that encompasses technologies dealing with heating and cooling systems, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics. Instruments that control temperature are essential in many areas, including the electric power industry, the automobile industry, and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. The principles of thermal engineering are also crucial to the operation of vehicles and other machines.
Heat transfer is a major concern within the field of thermal engineering. The heating and cooling of liquids is important in many industrial settings, and constitutes another branch of thermal engineering. An engineer in this field must also understand fluid dynamics. Thermal engineers may be called upon to work in a number of different industries including the design of heating/cooling equipment, power management and optimization for power companies (gas, electric, nuclear etc) and also the development of renewable energies.
Energy conservation is a big issue in the modern world and thermal engineers are much sought after to work in a number of major industries from petrochemicals through to renewable energies, so this is a solid career prospect for anyone with an interest in engineering and environmental issues.