Specifications that use this resource:

Subject specific vocabulary

The following subject specific vocabulary provides definitions of key engineering terms used in our GCSE Engineering 8852 specification.

Your students should be familiar with, and gain understanding from all these terms.


The process of adjusting or changing the position of components or parts to achieve correct spatial distance or intended functionality.

Alternating Current

An electric current that intermittently changes direction, usually found in electrical power systems.

Analog Signals

Continuous electrical signals that vary in magnitude which take any value within a range, however; they are used to represent continuous quantities.


A treatment process that involves heating a metal to a specific temperature and then slowly cooling it to make it softer and more ductile.


The measurement of a surface or two dimensional space which is usually conveyed in square units for example.


The process of placing various parts or components together to complete a product or system.


The use of machinery, technology or computer based systems to operate and control processes or systems with minimal or no human intervention.


Mechanical devices that support and facilitate the smooth rotation or movement of parts of a machine by reducing friction between surfaces and controlling motion.


The deformation of a material, usually a metal or a beam, caused by the application of a force, resulting in curvature or a change in shape.


A machining process that involves enlarging or refining an existing hole using a cutting tool, usually performed on a lathe or milling machine.


A joining process that uses a filler metal, which has a lower melting point than the base materials, to bond two or more metal components together.


The tendency of a material to fracture or break without significant deformation when subjected to stress or impact.

CAD (Computer Aided Design)

The use of computer software and systems to create, modify, analyse and visualise designs or technical/orthographic drawings for products or systems.


Distinctive features or qualities of a product, system, or material that define its behaviour, performance or properties.

Chemical Etching

A process of selectively removing material from a surface using chemical reactions to create patterns, shapes, or designs.

Chemical Treatment

The application of chemicals to modify the properties or characteristics of a material, such as improving corrosion resistance or altering surface properties.


The process of categorising or organising items, systems, or materials into groups based on shared characteristics, properties or criteria.

CNC (Computer Numerical Control)

The automation of machine tools or manufacturing processes using computer programs to control and guide the movement and operation of tools or machines using numerical coordinates.


Adjusting or correcting for variations or errors to ensure accuracy, precision, or desired performance in a system, process or measurement Properties that refer to the actual matter that forms the material (eg insulation, conductivity, fusibility).


Individual parts or elements that make up a larger system, device or structure.


A material composed of two or more distinct materials, often with different physical or chemical properties, combined to achieve specific performance characteristics.

Compressive Strength

The ability of a material to withstand or resist compressive forces without undergoing significant deformation or failure.


Accepted or standardised practices followed within a specific discipline, often for the purpose of consistency and clarity.

Conversion of Motion

The transformation or conversion of one type of motion, for example, rotary to linear, or one energy form to another within a mechanical system.


The flow of electric charge or the rate at which electric charges move through a conductor, typically measured in amperes/ amps.


The measure of mass per unit volume of a substance, often expressed in kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m³) or grams per cubic centimetre (g/cm³).

Destructive Testing

Testing methods or techniques that involve subjecting a material, component, or structure to extreme conditions or loads to assess its strength, durability or failure behaviour.

Dip Coating

A coating process in which an object is immersed or dipped into a liquid coating material to achieve a uniform coating for aesthetic and/or functional purposes.

Direct Current (DC)

An electric current that flows in one direction, typically produced by batteries and found in a wide range of electronic products.


The resistance encountered by an object moving through a fluid, this can be liquid or gas; caused by the interaction between the object and the fluid, leading to a force opposing its motion.

Dynamic Loads

Forces or loads that vary or change over time, often resulting from moving or vibrating.


The ratio of useful output or work obtained from a system or process to the input or energy expended.


The process of depositing a thin layer of metal onto a conductive surface through electrochemical reactions, used for aesthetic or protective purposes.

End of Life

The stage in the life cycle of a product or system when it is no longer functional, economically viable, or environmentally sustainable, leading to disposal or recycling.


The process of selectively removing material from a surface using chemical or physical methods to create patterns, textures, or designs.


The systematic process of assessing, examining, or analysing the performance, quality, effectiveness, or suitability of a product, process, or system.


The act or process of elongating or stretching a material, often used to refer to the movement or expansion of a mechanical component or system.


The process of joining or securing components or parts together to create a stable and rigid structure or assembly, often using methods such as screws, bolts, or adhesives.

Ferrous Metals

Metals that contain iron, including materials such as steel, and cast iron.


The final stage of manufacturing or processing operations that involves enhancing the surface properties, appearance, or functionality of a product or component.


A visual representation of a process or system using various symbols and arrows to show the flow and sequence of activities, decisions, or information.


The process of bending or creasing a material, to create folds or desired shapes.


A push or pull exerted on an object, resulting from the interaction between two objects or due to gravity, leading to acceleration, deformation or motion.


The shape, configuration, or physical structure of an object or component.

Fossil Fuels

Carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals and used as a source of energy.


The purpose, role, or intended action of a component, device, or system within a larger context or operation.

Fused Deposition

A 3D printing technique that involves the extrusion of molten material, typically plastic, in a layer-by-layer process to build a three-dimensional object.


The process of applying a protective zinc coating to the surface of a metal, typically steel or iron, to prevent rusting.


The process of increasing the hardness or strength of a material through heat treatment, cold working, or chemical processes.


The ability of a materials surface to withstand abrasion and corrosion.

Heat Treatment

A controlled heating and cooling process applied to a material to alter its physical or mechanical properties, such as hardness or toughness.


A sector or branch of economic activity that involves the production, manufacturing, or processing of goods or the provision of services.

Injection Moulding

A manufacturing process in which molten material, typically plastic or metal, is injected into a mould cavity under high pressure to produce complex-shaped components.


Specialised tools or devices used to hold, guide, or support a work piece during machining, assembly, or other manufacturing processes.


The process of combining or connecting separate components, parts, or materials to create a completed structure or assembly, often through welding, soldering, or adhesive bonding.


The length of time that a product, system, or component is expected to function or remain operational before it becomes obsolete or needs replacement.


Mechanical devices or systems composed of interconnected rods, levers, or other elements that transmit or control motion or force.


The external force, weight, or demand placed on a structure, component, or system, which can be static or dynamic.


The application of a lubricant, such as oil, grease, or a solid film, to reduce friction, wear, and heat generation between moving surfaces.


The process of shaping, cutting, or removing material from a work piece using various tools, such as lathes, milling machines, or drills.


The planned activities, inspections, repairs, and upkeep performed to ensure the continued function, reliability, and longevity of equipment, systems, or machinery.


The property of a material to undergo deformation or change in shape under compression without fracturing or breaking, typically by metals.

Mechanical Advantage

The ratio of the output force or effort to the input force or effort in a mechanical system, indicating the amplification or advantage gained in force or motion.


A machining process that involves removing material from a work piece using rotary cutters, typically performed on a milling machine.

Non-destructive Testing

Testing methods or techniques that evaluate the properties, integrity, or quality of a material, component, or system without causing damage or permanent alteration.

Non-ferrous Metals

Metals that do not contain iron as the primary constituent, for example materials such as aluminium, copper or titanium.


A heat treatment process used to refine the microstructure of a material, usually steel, by heating it above the critical temperature and then cooling it in still air.


The functioning, performance, or execution of a system, process, or machine to achieve its intended purpose or outcome.


A type of technical drawing or representation that shows a three-dimensional object in two-dimensional views, using the 3rd angle projection in the UK.


Measurable or adjustable variables, factors, or characteristics that define or influence the behaviour, performance, or operation of a system, process or component.

PCB (Printed Circuit Board)

A board made of insulating material with conductive pathways or tracks etched or printed onto its surface, used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components.

Permanent Assembly

The joining or fastening of components or parts in a manner that is intended to be permanent and not easily disassembled or separated.

PICs (Peripheral Interface Controller)

Microcontroller units (MCUs) or integrated circuits (ICs) that combine a microprocessor, memory, and peripheral devices on a single chip for embedded control applications.

Planned Obsolescence

The practice of designing and producing products with limited lifespans or intentionally outdated features, with the aim of products or systems failing after a set period of time.


The process of smoothing or refining a surface through abrasion or mechanical action to achieve a glossy, reflective or smooth finish.

Press Forming

A manufacturing process that involves shaping or forming materials, typically sheet metal or plastic, by applying pressure using a press or hydraulic equipment.

Pressure Die Casting

A casting process in which molten metal is forced into a metal mould or die under high pressure, often used for mass production of complex-shaped components.


A series of actions, operations, or steps undertaken or performed in a defined sequence to achieve a desired result or outcome.


The manufacturing or creation of goods or services through various processes, including fabrication, assembly, or processing, to meet specific requirements or demand.

Production Plan

A detailed strategy or document that outlines the objectives, resources, schedules, and processes for the efficient and effective production of goods or services.


The characteristic attributes, qualities, or behaviours exhibited by a material, component, or system.


A preliminary or initial version of a product, component, or system that is developed and tested to evaluate its design, functionality, or performance before mass production or implementation.


Wheel-like devices with a grooved rim or flanges used to change the direction or transmit power between rotating shafts by means of a flexible belt or rope.


A fabrication process that involves creating holes, slots, or shapes in sheet metal or other materials using a punch and die set or press.

Quality Control

The systematic activities, inspections, and measures taken to ensure that products, processes, or services meet specified quality standards or requirements.


A rapid cooling process applied to a material, typically metal, by immersing it in a quenching medium, such as oil or water, to achieve specific properties or hardness.

Rapid Prototyping

The process of quickly creating physical models or prototypes using additive manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, to analyse and evaluate designs or concepts.


Strengthened or enhanced by the addition of reinforcing materials, such as fibres, particles, or structural elements, to improve mechanical or structural properties.


The ability of a system, process, or measurement to consistently produce the same results or outputs under identical or similar conditions.


The opposition or hindrance to a flow of electric current through a conductor, often measured in ohms (Ω), indicating the material's ability to manage current flow.

Sand Casting

A casting process that involves pouring molten metal into a mould cavity formed in compacted sand, commonly used for the production of large or complex-shaped metal parts.


The proportionate representation or measurement of an object, component, or system in relation to its actual size or dimensions, often used in technical drawings or models.

Schematic Drawings

Diagrams or drawings that represent the electrical or functional connections, relationships, or components within a system or circuit using symbols and lines.

Section View

A drawing or representation that shows a specific internal or sectional view of a three-dimensional object, revealing its internal features or structures.


A joining process that involves melting a filler metal (solder) and using it to join or bond two or more metal components together, usually using a soldering iron.


A manufacturing process that involves shaping or forming sheet metal or other materials by pressing or stamping them between dies to create desired shapes or features.


The resistance of a material, component, or structure to deformation or deflection under the influence of an applied force, indicating its rigidity or ability to maintain its shape.


The measure of deformation experienced by a material or structure in response to applied stress, often expressed as the ratio of change in length to the original length.


The ability of a material, component, or structure to resist or withstand applied forces, loads, or stresses without failure or permanent deformation.


The internal force or load experienced by a material or structure per unit area, resulting from applied external forces, loads, or thermal effects.

Structural Behaviour

The response, performance, or characteristics exhibited by a structure or component under various loads, forces, or environmental conditions.


Components or systems that are part of a larger system, typically performing specific functions or tasks within the overall system's operation.


A collection of components, parts, elements or sub-systems that are interconnected or work together to perform a specific function, achieve a common purpose, or produce a desired output.

Temporary Joining

The joining or fastening of components or parts in a manner that allows for easy disassembly or separation, typically using temporary fasteners, clamps, or adhesives.

Tensile Strength

The maximum stress or load a material can withstand before it undergoes failure or fracture under tension, indicating its resistance to pulling or stretching forces.


A type of polymer or plastic material that can be repeatedly melted, reformed, and solidified by the application of heat and pressure without undergoing significant degradation.

Thermosetting Polymers

A type of polymer or plastic material that, once cured or hardened, cannot be reformed, retaining its shape and structure even under high temperatures.


The force or pressure exerted in a specific direction, typically resulting from the reaction to the expulsion or movement of a fluid or gas, often used in propulsion systems.


The allowable or acceptable limits of variation, deviation, or error in dimensions, measurements, or specifications of a product, component or process.


The ability of a material to absorb energy or withstand sudden impacts or loads without fracturing or breaking.


Factors, quantities, or elements that can vary or change within a system, process, or equation, often influencing or affecting the outcome or behaviour.


The electrical potential difference or electromotive force between two points in an electrical circuit, often measured in volts (V), representing the energy per unit charge.


The amount of space occupied by an object or substance, typically measured in cubic units, indicating the capacity or three-dimensional size of the material or component.


A joining process that involves the fusion or bonding of two or more materials, usually metals, by heating them to a molten state and allowing them to fuse and solidify together.

Working Properties

The specific characteristics, behaviour, or performance exhibited by a material, component, or system during the process of fabrication, assembly, or operation in reaction to external forces.